Alexis Alvarez reads a book with her mom, Laurie Alvarez, at Kailua library. Alvarez says the Saturday hours allow greater library access for her two school-aged children.

3 public libraries
back to 6-day schedule

The statewide system remains
understaffed by almost 25 percent

Public libraries in Kailua, Manoa and Waimea are restoring six-day-a-week service, but vacancies in the statewide library system have mushroomed to nearly one in four positions, leaving many other branches short-staffed.

Library hours

Operating times increased at four libraries this week. Here are the new hours:

Kailua Public Library:
» 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
» 1 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.
Kahului Public Library:
» Noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday
» 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Manoa Library:
» 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
» 1 to 8 p.m., Tuesday.
Thelma Parker Public & School Library:
» 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.
» 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Wednesday.
» 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday

Library schedules are available by calling local branches or checking the Hawaii State Public Library System's Web site at www.librarieshawaii.org.

In March 2003, all of Hawaii's public libraries reduced public hours to no more than 40 hours over five days because of a state budget cut. This week marks the first return to six-day service.

"We are proud of our staff for trying to meet their communities' expressed desire for more service hours despite the possibility of future staffing shortages and continuing workload demands," state librarian Jo Ann Schindler said.

While the budget crunch forced last year's cutback in hours, the problem this year isn't a lack of funding for positions, it is finding people to hire.

As of Aug. 30, the library system had 135 vacancies, out of a total of 553 full-time authorized positions, or 24.4 percent. That's a near doubling from 70 empty slots in April 2003. Meanwhile, 78 vacancies were filled over that same period of time.

"We fill one and another one crops up," said Keith Fujio, administrative services officer for the state's libraries. "We are continuing efforts to fill the vacancies as fast as possible. It's not like we're not trying."

Now that they are fully staffed, Kailua Public Library on Oahu and Thelma Parker Memorial Public & School Library on the Big Island will add Saturday service starting this week. Manoa Library is adding Monday to its schedule and extending its Tuesday hours. Kahului Public Library on Maui is opening one hour earlier each day.

"We're just so thrilled to be able to reopen on Saturdays again," said Sandy Akana, Kailua branch manager. "It definitely fulfills a community need. Kailua Public Library is very fortunate to be fully staffed. Hopefully, with the evening and Saturday hours, we'll be able to reach the working people."

Kapolei Regional Library, which opened last month, is also open six days a week, for a total of 39 hours. But the main branch, Hawaii State Library downtown, still closes two days a week, along with other libraries statewide.

There is a shortage of would-be librarians, and the profession is graying, with more than half of the state's librarians eligible to retire in the next five or six years, Fujio said. The tight labor market has also slowed recruiting, with the state's unemployment rate the lowest in the country.

Many empty positions in the libraries are filled by staff who transfer from other branches, which in turn creates more vacancies.

"Only 15 employees have been recruited from outside the Hawaii State Public Library System since April 2003, so most of the movement has been internal," Schindler said. Recruitment is in progress for 100 positions, she said.

Applicants can call the library of their choice to inquire about temporary positions, ranging from librarians to library assistants to janitors.

"If they do well, we are eager to pick them up permanently," Schindler said. "We are always looking for good, qualified service-oriented people."

Hawaii State Library System



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