Makiki rite will mark library’s overdue returnSTORY SUMMARY »
Makiki Community Library turns a new page in its 30-year history when the long-closed facility is rededicated tomorrow.
The city-funded library closed for repairs in 2005, but the closure lasted longer than expected thanks to an abundance of structural problems and a lack of funding.
While it was closed, the 1527 Keeaumoku St. building often fell prey to vandals. Now library boosters say it is getting some much-needed respect.
"This is a library that serves a significant immigrant population, and people that are trying to build a better life for themselves by becoming literate," said former state Rep. Brian Schatz.
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After about 30 years of trouble and little funding, Makiki Community Library finally gets some respect as it reopens tomorrow after a face lift.
"It's always been a challenge," said Brian Schatz, a former state lawmaker who fought for funding in 2005. "Despite how critical it is for the community, it's always been a shoestring operation. This investment in the library from the city is crucial."
Leaders will rededicate the library at 2 p.m. tomorrow for a soft opening. The library is expected to officially open in the summer, but patrons will be able to check out books after tomorrow's ceremony.
"This is something that the community has been looking forward to for a long time," Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday. "We've been trying to do what we can to get it open again, and I'm pleased that after months and months of dealing with this, we're ready to move forward."
The former Hawaiian Sugar Planters Association experiment station at 1527 Keeaumoku St. fell into despair after years of failing to receive sufficient funding from the city and state.
After Gov. Linda Lingle refused to release $4.5 million that the Legislature appropriated for the dilapidated library because it is a city facility, the building was closed in 2005 for badly needed repairs.
The library opened in 1978 with the support of then-Mayor Frank Fasi after a grass-roots effort by several community residents who wanted a library in their community when the state would not provide one. A group of volunteers operates the library, which does not fall under the state public-library system because it is owned by the city.
Since 2005 the city spent nearly $2 million to renovate and repair the library. After construction started, however, crews found that more work needed to be done, and work temporarily stopped while the city secured additional funding.
During that time, vandals trashed the facility, spray-painting the walls with graffiti and throwing trash around. The crews have since completed their work, and in time the city plans to turn the building into a sustainability center to help the environment.
The library, near three public schools, is surrounded by residents living in apartment complexes. Many of the residents who would go to the library were immigrants, Schatz said.
"It was a tough period when it was closed," Schatz said. "This is a library that serves a significant immigrant population and people that are trying to build a better life for themselves by becoming literate."
Chapters of history
1978: The Makiki Community Library is founded by community members with support from Mayor Frank Fasi. The library does not fall under the state library system and does not receive state funding.
1995: The city withdraws funding for the library. A volunteer group, Friends of the Makiki Community Library, begins operating the library, primarily from donations and book sales.
2004: The Legislature appropriates $4.5 million to help create a community center at the library that will include a computer learning center.
2005: Gov. Linda Lingle refuses to release the funds for the library, saying it is not that state's responsibility because it is not a state facility. The dilapidated facility is shut down while city crews make necessary renovations, including installing an elevator and fire sprinkler system. During construction, crews determine there will be additional work needed, and work is temporarily suspended until new funds are authorized.
2008: The library will have its soft opening tomorrow with local leaders present to rededicate the facility. The library is expected to officially reopen this summer.