Friday, October 3, 2003

Isle libraries back
on path to full schedule


Saturday, Oct. 4, 2003

>> The public library system is working to restore some of its hours and fill some of its 86 vacancies. A headline and story on Page A6 yesterday incorrectly stated that the system was filling all 86 positions and was returning to a full schedule.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin strives to make its news report fair and accurate. If you have a question or comment about news coverage, call Editor Frank Bridgewater at 529-4791 or email him at

With its budget restored, the state public library system is filling 86 jobs so libraries can return to a full schedule.

"We've started the recruiting process in a number of critical positions," said Keith Fujio, state Public Library System administrative services director.

In March, the library system cut library hours to five days a week when Gov. Linda Lingle imposed statewide budget cuts and a hiring freeze. Thanks to an upturn in projected state tax revenues, two weeks ago Lingle released to all state departments $450 million in previously allocated money.

"We might start to gradually go back to try to open maybe a six-day schedule first," Fujio said. "It's all dependent on which positions get hired first and how we can work with the staff to maintain those hours. We don't want to open a six-day library with what we got now."

At least 75 percent of vacancies are for library staffing, Fujio said. But filling all vacancies won't happen this year, since recruitment is a lengthy process and many vacancies are being filled in-house, which creates another opening on the 500-person staff, he said.

Libraries have maintained their hours by stretching their staff, and had temporary workers fill in the gaps.

"Most libraries were stretched so thin, they welcomed the restriction in hours," said Waimanalo Library temporary branch head Nina O'Donnell.

Waimanalo Library received an exemption allowing it to use grants from Verizon to stay open Saturdays.

O'Donnell, the half-time children's librarian, is filling the shoes of Richard Burns, who transferred to head the new Kapolei Library, while the library looks for a new branch manager.

Neighboring Kailua and Kaneohe libraries have coordinated their limited hours with Waimanalo.

"In that way, we get seven-day-a-week service," said Kailua branch manager Sandy Akana.

Kapolei is No. 1 on the library system's list, Fujio said.

The facility, completed last year, has filled three of five staff positions, but cannot fill 19 other positions to fully staff the library until next fiscal year.

Fujio said the library system is looking at possibly opening Kapolei sooner.

"I wouldn't want to promise anything, but maybe on a limited basis we could probably look at it at the earliest maybe in January," Fujio said. "But we don't want to strap the staff."

That decision would have to be made by the interim state librarian and requires state Board of Education approval.


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