Rolling with bargains


POSTED: Friday, June 19, 2009

A block away from Restaurant Row, where business offices bustle and restaurants offer fine dining experiences, there sits a humble trailer, decorated with drawings of exuberant children and the word, “;Bookmobile,”; amid asphalt, weeds and a large community of stray cats.





        By the Friends of the Library of Hawaii

» Where: McKinley High School cafeteria, 1039 S. King St.


» When: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. tomorrow and June 27; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 26; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 28


» Cost: Free


» Call: 536-4174


» Note: All books 50 percent off June 27; all books 50 cents June 28





        » Where: 690 Pohukaina St.

» When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and the first Saturday of each month


» Call: 536-4174




It's a place where the unwavering commitment of a large group of people comes to fruition everyday.

“;Bill's Bookmobile grew out of the fact that we receive so many books—too many for our annual booksale,”; said Byrde Cestare, executive director of the Friends of the Library of Hawaii. “;It houses the overflow of fabulous books that come in daily (and) volunteers run it.”;

Honolulu resident Bill Harper, an avid reader and lover of books, died in April 2006. His family set aside $6,000 to donate to the Friends in his name, and it wasn't long after that the Kaneohe Public Library's bookmobile broke down for good.

So the Friends had it towed to their site on Pohukaina Street. After refurbishing its shelves, the bookmobile-turned-used-bookstore opened its doors to the public on Jan. 13, 2007.

Today Bill's Bookmobile is open 4 hours per day during the week and on the first Saturday of each month. It houses nearly 3,000 books and receives about 100 visitors each week. Volunteer librarians say the shelves constantly need replenishing.

“;I'm real pleased with the public response,”; said Sally Harper, Bill's widow. “;It's a great testimonial to Bill and to our love of reading.”;

Harper, who serves as a Friends board member, said an added plus is that after customers read the books, they often donate them back again.

“;This is a wonderful recycling operation,”; she said.

Cestare said Bill's Bookmobile embodies the loving dedication of the Friends' volunteers, who work year-round cleaning donated books, organizing them and pricing and selling them in the bookmobile.

“;Many volunteers on the weekly schedule are retired librarians,”; she said. “;They love books and want to get them into the hands of the public.”;

Cestare added that they're so committed to that goal, they often keep prices as low as possible, despite discouragement from Friends staffers.

THE FRIENDS of the Library of Hawaii is more than 100 years old, founded in 1879 for the expressed purpose of building a library for Hawaii.




Friends of the Library of Hawaii



The Hawaii State Library opened in 1911, funded by monies generated by the Friends. Today the organization works on behalf of all 51 state libraries.

In 1947 the Friends held their first book sale on the front lawn of then-Gov. Ingram Stainback's home (now the site of the Arcadia retirement home). That first sale generated $400. Last year the event raised $217,000.

“;We have two goals: to raise funds and promote literacy,”; said Stephanie Rezentes, who co-chairs this year's sale with Nobu Kiwada. “;We accomplish this through the book sale.”;

This year's sale will offer some 100,000 used books for the perusal of an eager public. Crowds can reach 30,000 in a good year, said Rezentes, who attributes the event's popularity partially to its extensive categories of books.

“;Our books are usually donated by the public and culled from the library system,”; she said. “;This year, we've received new books from Bess Press, including a hardcover coffee-table book of Iz that's going for $8.”;

Other Bess Press contributions include paperbacks of Robert Louis Stevenson in Hawaii, Jack London and “;Pidgin to da Max.”; Categories include cooking, art and architecture, textbooks, children's books, fiction, Hawaiiana and books in foreign languages. There are also first-edition collectibles and out-of-print books.

Space is limited in the cafeteria, and crowds can be stifling, but the beauty of the sale is that volunteers continue to restock shelves as the sale commences.

“;It's the luck of the draw, because not all the good books are coming out first, so the public can come out throughout the sale and see books that have not even been looked at,”; Rezentes said. “;People come in from the mainland, the neighbor islands and even some foreign countries for this sale.”;

For the attorney and six-year Friends board member, working with the organization reflects the importance books have had in her life.

“;This starts with me,”; said Rezentes. “;My father took us to the library to borrow books each week. It instilled that love of books and made me want to own my own books.

“;It's wonderful to see children come through, and things are 5 cents and 10 cents, so they can acquire their own books. It opens up the opportunity for a child to spend quiet time and read and reread a book.

“;The booksale is a really happy time for all of us. It's an event that the community loves,”; she said.