Saturday, June 23, 2001

Ed board gives state
librarian positive

By Crystal Kua

State Librarian Virginia Lowell has received a "more than satisfactory" evaluation by the Board of Education.

"It means I get to stay, I guess," Lowell said chuckling. "This evaluation says, 'We agree you're going in the right direction, Virginia, and appreciate what you've done so far, so keep doing it.'"

The board met behind closed doors for about an hour Thursday night before returning to public session to announce that members were happy with her performance and cooperation with the board.

"The board appreciates the excellent job that she has done," board Chairman Herbert Watanabe said.

"Despite the budgetary constraints, the librarian has managed to keep the ship ... afloat."

Lowell, who is evaluated annually, said budget cuts and shortages continue to stifle plans to move ahead.

"I told (the board) with the budget constraints that it becomes more a maintenance of effort than forward progress or sustainability," Lowell said. "But it still means we're hanging in there, and we'll just continue strengthening the infrastructure doing things timely, effectively and efficiently."

Lowell has just come off a legislative session during which no money was appropriated to pay for staff positions, furniture and books needed to open the Kapolei Library, which will be completed in December.

The governor may ask the Legislature for a supplemental budget request to fund the library opening.

"Kapolei is out of our hands at this point. It's going to be building out there," she said. "It's there; we'll work with it. We've worked with it for three years."

But Lowell also pointed to good things that came out of the legislative session. They include establishing a continued source of funding through enhanced fees, allowing Friends of the Library to conduct for-profit sales at libraries and giving the school board the authority to set her salary up to $120,000.

"I'm evaluated by a board that hires me, and they tie compensation to it," Lowell said.

Watanabe indicated to her that the board would take up the issue of pay at a later date, she said.

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