Frustration grows over delay in state takeover of Hawaii's only volunteer-run public library

Updated: Jan. 7, 2018 at 4:43 PM HST
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(Image:Hawaii News Now)
(Image:Hawaii News Now)

MAKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's growing frustration over the delay in the state takeover of Hawaii's only volunteer-run public library.

The nonprofit, Friends of Makiki Community Library, has kept the facility off Keeaumoku Street afloat since the 1990s after the City failed to keep operations going.

"Since then it's just been community support," said president Wendy Maxwell. "We don't get any funding from any government agency."

Maxwell hopes that changes soon because the nonprofit only has enough funds to keep library door's open through the end of 2018.

"After that, we don't know whats going to happen," said Maxwell. "We got a lot of different people that donate to us, friends and family."

There have been discussions to have the state take over operations, but Maxwell says the city, which owns the library property, is dragging its feet to draw up a memorandum of agreement for the state to sign.

"The state has done everything they need to do, we are just waiting for the city," Maxwell said. "We could offer so many more services to the community if we were state-run."

The library has a collection of about 18,000 books, all of which are donated.

Workers also donate their time and energy to run the library.

Al Lanier, who visits the library often, says it would be a huge loss to the community if it's forced to close.

"There is no other library like this," he said. "There are books here that you won't find in collections in other libraries."

Currently, the library is only open on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays for 12 hours a week.

The City wouldn't give us a timeline, but said in an email:

"The City and the State are in ongoing negotiations to turn over the community library at Makiki District Park over to the State Library System. The City and the State agree that the property would better serve the community as an official public library in the State Library system, and we are fine-tuning the details with the various organizations involved as to how this transition will take place. This will include the construction of additional parking spaces to serve the additional traffic at the library in a way that will not impact the play and practice areas at the park."

"I just hope the city hurries up and get this this going," said Maxwell.

The Hawaii State Librarian was not available for an interview Sunday.

If you would like to donate to Friends of Makiki Community Library, click here.

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