Checking out our libraries during this recession

Thomas Churma
Thomas Churma
Leanne Nakayama
Leanne Nakayama
Mari Jo Tam
Mari Jo Tam

By Paul Drewes - bio | email

KANEOHE (KHNL) - Island libraries are facing a double edged sword. More use with less money. Because of the recession, more residents are turning to free services while libraries are facing funding cuts.

Tuesday is another busy day at the Kaneohe library.

Activity there has been up even since the economy went down.

"If you're struggling you don't go to the movies and spend 50 bucks, you come here and rent videos for $2 and get free books," said Branch Manager, Thomas Churma.

6 year old Trenton Kaahu is checking out books on tadpoles, after discovering a small pond of them nearby. But his family comes to the library for other free services, like the kids activities and free internet.

"For people who can't afford to have email at home, they can come here , check email and keep in touch with others who are far away," said Leanne Nakayama.

Libraries not only give residents a way to relax and escape the daily grind - through pages of a book,

They also provide tools for those looking for work.

Mari Jo Tam has seen many patrons studying at the library.

"Looking up job resources, because they are losing jobs. They're looking for new venues, job opportunities, maybe going back to school," said the Kailua resident.

And yet, the Kaneohe library has had to cut its budget by ten percent because of lower state revenue.

Their new book shelves are not only a little emptier because of the recession, but budget cuts have also cut out important tools for the community. Wi-fi was supposed to be funded by the state but was cut.

The Friends of the Kaneohe library had to step in to get that service going. And the threat of more cuts is always on the horizon as this recession drags on.

"Any more cuts, we could lose staff. We're vulnerable like any public library across the state," added Churma.

Along with providing resources for those looking for work, librarians also supervise exams and even offer classes on using the internet.