Waialua library
helped by aloha
in wake of fire

Monetary donations already
exceed the usual yearly
total from book sales

They call from as far away as New York City to send books or money to the Waialua Library, which lost its books used for fund-raising to a fire in a nearby building, said librarian Tim Littlejohn.

The phone has been ringing constantly at the tiny library with calls from neighbor islands, California, Nevada and New York, said Littlejohn. They all want to give boxes of books to sell at the library's future fund-raisers or send checks to the library.

Littlejohn estimates he has already collected $5,000 -- more than what they raised in books sales in a year. A fire Tuesday evening in the annex of an old plantation building destroyed 2,000 books, videos and music to be sold at the monthly fund-raisers. The sales raise $4,000 a year for the library's budget.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

"It's just tremendous," said Littlejohn. "I've had calls from friends who lived here and moved away."

A California couple is even rallying support in Santa Cruz, said Littlejohn. He also received calls from people closer to home.

Mililani library called to give Waialua 20 boxes of books to replenish their fund-raiser collection.

"We felt their need and understand their loss," said Mililani Branch Manager Wendi Woodstrup. "That's what we do -- try to help each other out. That's what the aloha spirit is all about."

Littlejohn said Hawaii has the only statewide public library system in the nation. He is happy with the support from other public libraries.

Retired Hawaii library Managing Director Caroline Spencer called Wednesday to make a personal donation of $2,000. R.M. Towill, her husband Bill's engineering company, then matched the donation.

"From rural libraries to the larger regional libraries, we all work together, and we are here for each other in good times and bad," Littlejohn said.

Then there were the small but heartfelt donations, he said. A woman came in Wednesday and handed him the last of her grocery money, Littlejohn said. She told the librarian that she wanted to give the $25 because her kids enjoy the library.

While Littlejohn answers the phones in Waialua, Friends of Waialua Library member Phillip Thatcher tries to keep up with dozens of calls on his cell phone. Thatcher has offered to pick up book donations from anywhere on Oahu, and the phone has not stopped ringing all morning, he said.

"I'm very happy," he said. "I've gotten calls from people in Hawaii Kai, Waikiki, Mililani and Waianae."

Thatcher plans to pick up the books next week and will continue to accept donations from anywhere on the island.

Thatcher has been involved with the library since his daughter could crawl. Now she's older and helps at the book sales, he said. He's happy that the sales can continue to help the library.

Charlotte Walker wanted to drop off the books herself. She's just waiting for her son's truck so she can bring 22 boxes of books from the Kailua United Methodist Church Women's thrift store to Waialua.

"We're on such a small place, an island ... and depend on each other," she said. "This is such a wonderful opportunity to share."

To donate books on Oahu, call Phillip Thatcher at 227-0837.

Waialua library is also accepting donations. Monetary donations can be sent to Waialua Library, P.O. Box 684, Waialua, HI 96791.


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