In the midst of bustling Fourth Street, Sarah Rafael Garcia stands out on her own. She converses with curious bystanders, engaged in each conversation. Behind her lay rows of books, neatly arranged on wooden shelves and crates. She wears a beaming smile as she describes her vision for LibroMobile, her solution for downtown Santa Ana’s missing Latino-focused bookstore.
Starting off as a small “bookmobile” project, Garcia is bringing back what was once a part of the community – a local mobile bookstore carrying art, zines and literature celebrating Mexican and Mexican-American culture. LibroMobile offers local authors, bilingual literature and art, rooting itself in the heart of its readers.
“My goal is to be able to offer relevant role models off and on the page for the community,” Garcia said, who believes reading a book is a reflection of one’s self. “I’m hopefully doing that by focusing on writers of color, LGBTQ and mental health.”
Garcia was inspired to start Libromobile when she learned that the well-known Latino bookstore, Librería Martinez, closed its storefront in 2012. Believing in both providing and maintaining a local bookstore in Santa Ana, Garcia fills her shelves with books that resonate with the city and its Latino residents.
“I want it to continue. I want it to exist, so one of the ways I’m combining that is by not being a big place,” Garcia said, mentioning her literary project’s pursuits around Orange County.
She teamed up with Orange County United Way, a nonprofit organization that focus on health, education, income, and housing. For their grand re-opening in February, Libromobile participated in a “Read Aloud Family Day” event, which hosted special readings by authors, literary games provided by the Santa Ana Public Library and book giveaways.
In the future, Garcia plans to collaborate with local cafe Cafe Calacas to provide their coffee at reading events. Garcia also plans to create a reading corner inside the LibroMobile bookstore, with recommendations from the coffee shop.
LibroMobile will continue to sell used and donated books at a lower price and set up Little Free Libraries, posts where people can pick up and exchange books, throughout Santa Ana.
“I’m hoping I’m still around. It’s going to have to come naturally,” Garcia said, as she looks to expand her business.
LibroMobile is currently located off 4th Street and Spurgeon (back alley area) in Downtown Santa Ana. Hours are Tues.-Sat. 12-6 p.m. and during 1st Saturday Artwalk 6-9 p.m. For more info, visit libromobile.com
Additional reporting by Josie Morales