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BOE delays decision on whether to close 5 libraries


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POSTED: Friday, July 10, 2009

Nancy Ashley, 79, said she would picket in protest if the state tries to save money by closing the Ewa Beach Public and School Library.

“;That would be horrifying,”; said the retired University of Hawaii teacher and author, who is writing her sixth book. “;I use a book a day.

“;I get withdrawal symptoms if I run out of books. ... It's like an addiction,”; she said, calling the closure “;cruel.”;

The state Board of Education heard a proposal yesterday by the state librarian to close five branches to cut the budget.

The board deferred a decision until Thursday to hear more testimony. If the state agrees, the libraries will close at the end of the year.

State Librarian Richard Burns said in his report that the Hawaii State Public Library System will run out of money this fall if it maintains the same service hours for all 51 branches. The library system has to consolidate staff to maintain quality at the remaining sites and preserve the rest of the system, the report said.

The five branches were chosen by comparing staff vacancies, circulation of books, proximity to neighboring libraries, repair and maintenance costs and rising operating costs.

Burns said three library buildings would be turned over to the respective schools, and some books would remain at the schools.

Board member Mary Cochran disagreed with closing the library in Hana, Maui, where the closest library is about 40 miles away, in Makawao.

“;They're going to close down over my dead body,”; she said.

On Oahu, Ewa Beach is the only library slated for closure.

At Ewa Beach yesterday, several people were stunned by the news. They said the growing community needs the library, which is also Campbell High School's only library.

Lisa Shimabukuro found her job and applied to the University of Hawaii at Manoa using the computers at Ewa Beach library.

“;I got a job, I got into school, I got so many things”; at this library, she said. “;It's just unbelievable. Other than my home, this is the second place where I stay the most.”;

David Park, 11, goes to the Ewa Beach library whenever he wants to know more about a subject, which is about once a week. The library allows him to check out eight books at a time, whereas at his school's library he can borrow only three books at a time.

“;I can read some more, I can borrow books in my grade (level), then I can get a head start in my class,”; he said.

If the branch closes, “;I'd feel bored,”; he said. “;That would be horrible.”;

Kimberly Dela Cruz, a 2008 Campbell alumnus who was the school's student body president for three years, said Campbell students use the library to do research and meet for projects.

“;It's pretty important to education, if you want to do research,”; she said. “;It's really a poor decision to make.”;

 

POSSIBLE CLOSURES

The Hawaii State Public Library System is proposing to close these libraries:

BIG ISLAND

» Holualoa Public Library

» Kealakekua Public Library

» Pahala Public and School Library

MAUI

» Hana Public and School Library

OAHU

» Ewa Beach Public and School Library

Source: State Board of Education   ———

Star-Bulletin reporter Gary T. Kubota contributed to this report.