Our Community Spotlights feature all the wonderful food, nightlife, and local businesses found within Douglass Park, home to Riot Fest. Join us throughout the year as the Riot Fest staff recommends their favorite spots in the neighborhood on a continuing basis—in hopes that you’ll make a stop in Douglass Park before, during, and well after the fest concludes.
Editor’s Note: On October 9th, Liberia Giròn announced via social media that after 66 years it will close its doors on December 31st, 2023.
Located in the vibrant neighborhood of Little Village in Chicago, Libreria Girón stands as a testament to the power of knowledge and the indomitable spirit of its founder, Ada Alicia Girón. Established in 1957 by Ada Alicia and her husband, Julio Girón, this beloved bookstore has become a cornerstone of the community, providing a haven for literature enthusiasts and serving as a cultural hub for generations.
With a heavy heart, after 66 years of unwavering community support, Libreria Girón is announcing the closure of its doors and will truly be missed.
Ada Alicia Girón was born on May 10th, 1936, in Guatemala City, with a deep-rooted desire to become a teacher and uplift those around her through education. Recognizing the transformative power of knowledge, she embarked on a journey to the United States, aiming to expand her own horizons and create a better life for herself. It was there that fate intervened, leading her to Julio Girón, her true love, and partner in both life and business.
What initially began as a modest mom-and-pop electronic shop swiftly transformed into an enterprise that would redefine the Latino presence in the United States. Ada Alicia and Julio Girón envisioned Libreria Girón as more than just a bookstore. They sought to give voice to the Latino community, which, at the time, faced significant challenges in being heard and represented.
Tragedy struck the Girón family when Julio Girón was tragically killed in an automobile accident while returning from his native Guatemala. Left with six children and another on the way, Ada Alicia found the strength and determination to turn adversity into opportunity. With unwavering resilience and the support of her children, she nurtured and expanded the business, forging a legacy that would forever leave an indelible mark on the Pilsen and Little Village communities. Over the years they had a total of 9 nine bookstores throughout the Pilsen and Little Village.
Throughout its remarkable history, Libreria Girón has welcomed literary figures and esteemed Latino celebrities, who have graced its doors and shared their stories with the community. From renowned journalists such as Jorge Ramos to esteemed authors like Roger Patron Lujan and Maria Antonietta Collins, even beloved television personality Don Francisco, Libreria Girón has been a platform for the exchange of ideas and culture.
For over six decades, the Girón family has remained dedicated to providing best-sellers and independent books catering to the Spanish-speaking community. Libreria Girón’s commitment to serving its customers with passion and offering a rich selection of literature has made it a beloved institution in the neighborhood.
During my visit of the librerìa, there is colorful papel picado (perforated paper of Frida Kahlo silhouette) in the entrance, along with the many crystals and Nazar (evil eye), variety sizes of Virgin de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) figurines, catrinas and alebrijes firgurines. Alebrijes and catrinas are used in ofredas during Dìa de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).They even have a large San Simòn, is a Mayan deity and folk saint represented in various forms by the Maya people in several towns in Guatemala. I love the bilingual children’s book options to choose from.
They have a small section of crystals, sage, tarot cards and colorful azar ( evil eye) amulets and bracelets to choose from. The Librerìa also has a section of Frida Kahlo, kitchen towels, coin bags, pencil bags, hats and headbands. The category of books vary from self help, autobiographies, novels, religion, Angels, manifestation, history, languages, English-Spanish dictionaries. They also have many religious reading materials and special occasion birthday/I Love You cards, for your special moments. If you cannot find a book you’re looking for, you can also special order if they do not have a book you are looking for.
On August 28th, 2019, Ada Alicia Girón passed away, leaving behind a profound legacy as a strong, passionate woman and avid lover of books. Her unwavering dedication to education and her belief in the transformative power of knowledge continue to inspire generations to come.
Today, the current owner, Patty Girón-Garcia, who is Ada’s daughter, leads the Girón family in proudly upholding her mother’s memory and continuing her visionary legacy. This closure marks the end of an enduring 66-year journey, a testament to the remarkable determination of one woman and the transformative impact a community-centered bookstore can have.
Throughout its rich history, Libreria Girón has nurtured a love for literature, enriching the lives of countless individuals and weaving itself into the vibrant tapestry of Little Village. It has been an inspiration for the pursuit of knowledge and cultural understanding for all who have crossed its threshold. The location will remain open until the end of the year, December 31st, 2023, allowing visitors to experience this incredible gem one last time and purchase their bilingual children’s books, books, and various items from Libreria Girón.
Dìa de Los Muertos is around the corner (November 1st/2nd), Liberia Giròn sells papel picado, catrinas, and artesanias for ofrendas.
3547 West 26th St.
Chicago, IL 60623