Firefighters doused a blaze Tuesday that destroyed the Kupahu Street annex used by the Waialua Library. It was once known as the Old Waialua Meeting Hall.

Friends help turn page
on Waialua library fire

The North Shore community
helps after a damaging blaze

The North Shore community is determined to see the only library between Kahuku and Wahiawa rise from the ashes of its fund-raising sales.

A fire Tuesday evening in the annex of an old plantation building destroyed 2,000 books, videos and music to be sold at monthly fund-raisers. The sales provide $4,000 annually to the small library.

Even before fire officials finished their investigation, individuals and businesses came forward, donating books, money and space to help the library they love.

"People really just like to come to the library," said Marjorie Russell, president of Friends of Waialua Library. "I would say it's the center of the community here."

The fire gutted the 2,000-square-foot Waialua Sugar Plantation building, including bags of Waialua coffee stored in a room across from the library's books, according to Honolulu Fire Department spokesman Capt. Kenison Tejada.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and damage is estimated at $52,000, he said. Tejada estimates the 70-year-old building is valued at $700,000.

Money raised at the book sales supplements the rural library's small budget. It is used to buy new materials for the library, support the library's many community programs and furnish the facility, said Russell. Recently, the Friends bought more shelves for new books they helped the library buy.

Yesterday, Russell's mood was positive because the donations were pouring in. "It's absolutely fantastic. Something good always comes out of something bad," she said.

Stanley Matsumoto, owner of Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa, donated $500. He said he knows how hard people worked to raise the money to buy more new books, and he wanted to help.

Head librarian Tim Littlejohn also said other individuals and North Shore businesses have come forward.

Integrated Coffee Technologies rents the space adjacent to the burned building and offered to store the library's book sales collection. "We have a lot of space, so we thought we'd give it to them to use," said John Stiles, of Integrated Coffee.

And with school starting soon, Amy Agustin, parent facilitator for Waialua Elementary School, is happy there is support for the library.

She said the library and its volunteers are vital to the school, encouraging the children to read and providing access to statewide resources for the older students.

Agustin plans to collect books from the families to donate to the library's sale.

Russell is confident that with help from the 525 members of Friends of the Waialua Library, the largest chapter of Friends in the state, the next book sale on Aug. 16 will be the best, raising more money than ever.

That's good news for Waialua farmer Richard Beekman, who visits the Waialua library at least three times a week to read the newspaper, pick up a movie or browse the new books.

"For this little community, the library is the best," he said.


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