Librería Martínez, the longtime Latino bookstore in Santa Ana, Calif., that grew out of the barber shop run by founder Rueben Martínez, is becoming a community cultural and educational center and will no longer sell books, the Orange County Register reported. The store, officially called Librería Martínez de Chapman University, will be renamed Centro Comunitario de Educación.
In 2012, after some financial difficulty, Chapman in nearby Orange took over operation of the bookstore. Last year the store created more space for reading and learning areas. Martínez's book collection will remain.
Because of online competition, the bookstore is "not a viable economic proposition," said Margaret Grogan, dean of the College of Educational Studies at Chapman. "While you can certainly generate some funds through sales of books, when you stay focused on the commercial aspect, you are not able to continue to develop the cultural and educational side of it as much."
According to Chapman's Happenings blog, the new Centro Comunitario de Educación is offering "a wide range of programs for community residents of all ages, partnering with such organizations as Padres Unidos, El Sol Science and Arts Academy, the Santa Ana Unified School District, Santa Ana College and other local community colleges." The center offers a Reading Starts Early program for preschool students that aims to instill a love books and a Teen Mentoring Program, in collaboration with Chapman's Student Civic Engagement initiatives, "to support mentees in career and college exploration and to engage them in their community, as well as adult education classes, hosting book clubs, poetry workshops and much more." The center also presents literary and arts events that are open to the community.
Martínez said that he was "a little bit sad, but I'm over it now because it's still educational and there's still going to be books. It's not like it's a complete failure.... You know, good things do come to an end and others start."
Martínez, 75, is a presidential fellow at Chapman, where he has sought to encourage diversity. In 2004, he received a MacArthur Foundation genius grant.