Outpouring of support


POSTED: Sunday, September 13, 2009

In its first 10 days, a fundraising effort to keep Hawaii's public libraries open has raised $50,000 toward its $3 million goal.

The Friends of the Library of Hawaii has been receiving 50 to 75 donations a day, in amounts ranging from $3 to $1,000, said Executive Director Byrde Cestare.

“;The staff at the libraries are genuinely touched by the outpouring of their communities,”; Cestare said. “;We know some big checks are coming in. We hope that the public will continue to respond.”;

As of Friday, the group had received about $35,000 and the library system had processed more than $15,000 in donations, Cestare said.

Some donations have been accompanied by letters explaining how the library has made a difference in people's lives.

“;The Ewa Beach Community Library changed my life,”; wrote one donor. “;I spent hours reading books between the bookshelves. ... Yes, it did help that it was the only air-conditioned building in Ewa Beach.”;

“;During my elementary school days and into high school I walked about two miles, bare-footed, to the library from my home,”; another man wrote. “;I was able to learn beyond my school experience, to get to know the world outside my rural parochial life, and to love reading and learning.”;





; » Mail cash or checks made out to the Friends of the Library of Hawaii to 690 Pohukaina St., Honolulu 96813. Write “;Keep the Doors Open!”; in the check memo line.


» Go to to donate online using a credit card. Or call the Friends office at 536-4174 to donate using your credit card over the phone.


» Checks payable to the Hawaii State Public Library System may be dropped off at any branch or mailed to the Office of the State Librarian, Administrative Services Branch, 44 Merchant St., Honolulu, HI, 96813. Designate a branch to receive your donation on the check memo line.


» Donations also are accepted at all Bank of Hawaii branches.


» Donations are tax deductible.


So far, the donations have not been enough to prevent neighbor island libraries from temporarily closing or adjusting their hours because of staff shortages.

This month, the Lahaina Library is closing while a staff member goes on a scheduled vacation, and the Kapaa and Laupahoehoe libraries have had to reduce hours for lack of money to hire temporary workers to cover staff vacations or days off.

Next month, the Mountain View Library on the Big Island will likely close when a staff member is on a three-week vacation, said Susan Nakata, section manager for library development.

Besides money for temporary workers, donations must also cover utilities and other costs of operations, Nakata said.

“;We want to show the public as soon as we can that their donations are making a difference,”; she said, adding she hopes the library system will have enough money to begin hiring temporary workers this fall.

Meanwhile, the campaign has been a morale booster for staff who have been struggling with budget cuts.

The day after the fundraising effort was announced, Nakata said, she was eating lunch at Aliamanu Intermediate School, next to the Salt Lake/Moanalua Library, and the cafeteria workers took up a collection and donated $60 to the library.

“;There was a preschool group that came in for story time at another library and the preschoolers all had dollar bills clutched in their hands,”; she said.

“;It touches us,”; Nakata said. “;We really appreciate whatever the donation is and from whatever age level.”;