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Wednesday, May 22, 2002



New library with no
books hits sour note

A drive is under way to get funds
for books for the Kapolei library


By Lisa Asato
lasato@starbulletin.com

Kapolei Library will not be getting as much money as officials wanted for books and other essentials in time for a July 2003 opening.

But the new library will be getting five staff positions, enough money to pay for limited utilities and a small allotment to start buying books.

"It takes five people to run an empty library?" asked Maeda Timson, a member of the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale neighborhood board.

Timson said the situation was somewhat silly, but neighborhood board members are not treating it as a joke.

She said community leaders are eager to see the library open and are working with state Librarian Virginia Lowell to tap area businesses to raise money in the Books for Kapolei Library campaign.

The library system had asked for $1.7 million to pay for books, supplies and 24 full-time positions at Kapolei Library. It also asked for $1 million to buy computers and desks, for a total of $2.7 million. But lawmakers funded 10 percent of that -- $266,900 -- for five positions and utilities.

Construction on the library is nearly finished, but officials can't open it until they get enough funding. Library officials wanted to open it in July 2003, but it has been pushed back to December 2003 or January 2004.

The library may open for limited uses in December this year. Although the public will not be able to borrow books, the facility may be open for children's reading programs, meeting space for civic groups and computer classes, Lowell said.

"It's just discouraging," Lowell said. "We've tried this for four years now. We can't erase this disconnect, this funding that goes to building buildings and (the) funding that's necessary to sustain them."

Sen. Brian Kanno (D, Ewa Beach-Makakilo) said the funding was a compromise between the Senate, which supported granting the full $2.7 million, and the House, which wanted no funding.

"I think maybe the thought was ... if the library system had any extra funding in its operating budget that they would be able to shift it to building their collection at Kapolei," he said. "I don't think that the appropriation for positions only was unwise."

Kanno said the struggle with Kapolei is that as the state's second-largest library it demands a lot in resources. Although the money didn't come through this session, he said he was hopeful it would come through next year. He added that a lot of state funding this year went into developing the Kapolei area, including $20 million for Kapolei High School and $1 million to design a new school in Royal Kunia.

Kanno also said he has been talking to area businesses about funding a $1 million no-interest loan to the state for buying books or other things for the library. Kanno also said Gov. Ben Cayetano has agreed to help, releasing $212,000, which was restricted in the library's budget for the current fiscal year, for Kapolei Library to build its collection.

Lowell said it was wonderful that Kanno and Cayetano worked together to get the extra money, but that it was "nowhere near that amount we need to build a collection to a size to open the building next July."

"What we need ... is closer to $800,000," she said. The 35,000-square-foot library is aiming to open with 60,000 volumes and 6,000 videos and other nonprint materials.

How the building can be used in the meantime will be discussed at a Board of Education committee meeting next Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., when people will be given a chance to walk through the library at 1015 Haumea St.



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