New state librarian has right credentials
NEWLY appointed state Librarian Richard Burns
The Board of Education has chosen a 24-year veteran to direct Hawaii's library system.
is no stranger to adversity and appears to have the persistence he will need to pull one of Hawaii's most valuable education assets into the 21st century.
Burns, a 24-year library veteran who received the Board of Education's approval to succeed retiring Jo Ann Schindler, has shepherded the Kapolei Public Library through its initial stutter steps as funding ebbed after it was built, and made it the second busiest to the main library downtown.
His goal in managing a statewide system of 51 branches when he begins the new job at year's end will be to upgrade the libraries' laggard Internet connection that frustrates patrons and discourages use of the wealth of material available.
Burns displayed his resourcefulness when as librarian in Waimanalo he successfully petitioned the board to exempt the library from a cost-saving order that had branches closing on weekends. With a grant from a foundation, he had started an adult literacy program on Saturdays, and argued that the grant covered expenses.
The weekend closings had been ordered by then-Librarian Virginia Lowell, who played funding hard ball with state lawmakers and ran into a wall of political opposition which eventually ended her tenure.
Burns will have to use more finesse to remain out of the line of fire, but should press for more money, which the library system clearly needs for maximum usage. Meanwhile, he may be able to use his experience in winning grants to get free or discounted services for Internet improvements that are key to research and information. Or maybe one of Hawaii's providers will voluntarily step up with an offer.
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