Hekab Be Biblioteca de Akumal – Akumal’s Free Library

A little history about the library

Hekab Be was started over 10 years ago by Brenda Detering, an American who lived in Akumal. When she started teaching English classes she realized that a majority of her students couldn’t read or write well enough in Spanish to have a sufficient basis for learning another language. Brenda saw the need to bring tools for literacy and learning to Akumal.

Hekab Be, meaning “Open Road” in the Mayan language, was born. The library was created to help open new roads of learning and discovery for the area’s local residents. Thanks to the generosity and bigheartedness of library friends, many of whom are loco gringo forum members, the dream to keep the road to learning open remains alive.

In June 2008, Hekab Be became a U.S. non-profit organization. The library provides the majority of its programming for free, and none of its services generate any profits. Hekab Be does not receive any government funding, the library is sustained entirely by private donations. Over 90% of its modest budget is dedicated to paying our committed staff.

Loco Gringos help the Akumal Library

Loco Gringos have played a pivotal role in keeping the library open. The Loco Gringo forum provides a highly visible space for Akumal visitors and locals to stay abreast of current library programs and needs. Loco Gringos have done many things for Hekab Be, a primary contribution being their fund raising for a multitude of structural repairs to Hekab Be’s old buildings including a new roof, doors, windows, paint, and electrical repairs.

After two hurricanes hit Akumal in 2005, the Library had no electricity for almost six months but managed to remain open due to the commitment of its donors, especially Loco Gringos, to keep it in operation. Loco Gringos raised money for a generator, and helped raise money for a new roof on the library’s annex buildings.


Education programs at the library


Today the library continues its strong presence as a supporter for education in the Akumal community and surrounding areas. Continuous programming includes the following:

For Children:

  • A daily after-school program and tutoring.
  • Special Saturday classes – Mathematics (all ages), Arts & Crafts, Kite/Beach Hour.
  • Reading programs with the Kindergarten and Primary Schools to help spark an early interest in reading among young children.
  • Annual Summer School Program for ages 5 -15, where many of Akumal’s children have learned to read!
  • For Adults:
  • English classes
  • Spanish classes and private tutoring
  • Mayan classes
  • Alcoholics Anonymous Meetings
  • Clothing bazaars that help provide local families with affordable attire
  • Extensive health and parenting information

Other Services available:

  • Books and Magazines in English, Spanish, Mayan, German, French, and Italian
  • DVD and VHS rentals
  • Rainy day entertainment – board games and jigsaw puzzles
  • Local resource information

The library’s most important role is as a center for literacy and learning for all people, and continuous promotion of the importance of education. Hekab Be provides ongoing support (in the form of materials and extracurricular academic programs) to all of the five schools in Akumal, from preschool to secondary level.

As an organization dedicated to the idea of grass-roots organizing, the library provides many donations to other, smaller libraries in the region, in an effort to promote literacy in more remote areas of Quintana Roo. Over the years, Hekab Be has supported almost all of the other libraries in the surrounding region, including Puerto Aventuras, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Coba, Muyil, Majahual and Xcalak, by sharing resources such as books, school supplies, and disaster relief (clothing and toys).

The road ahead – Future needs

With all the great work the library does, Hekab Be still faces many challenges ahead to maintain the high caliber of its services and programs.

The library’s greatest current needs are structural/building upgrades:

  • A new water connection
    • The old water line was lost with the construction of the new bridge in Akumal. The library has been without running water for the past three months.
  • Construction of a bathroom
    • The existing bathroom was never restored after hurricane damage and over time has become dangerously unstable.
  • Roof repair on the main building
    • Time and hurricanes have taken their toll on our main building, and it is now becoming evident that it will also need some repairs in the near future.
  • Repairs on the front patio
    • The backs of some of the concrete benches have fallen down and need to be replaced.
  • Furniture
    • The library needs more bookshelves, as well as tables and chairs.

Check out the Hekab Be’s blog at: http:/hekabbe.blogspot.com for updates about library programs and needs.

Hekab Be has served the Akumal community for more than 10 years and is an important organization which unites our community. Thanks to all the participation and support of Loco Gringo members (one of the library’s main sources of donations), the future of this little institution is more secure. Muchas gracias a los Gringos Locos!




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