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Rotarians seek community support for Lahaina Library renovation plan

The Lahaina News
June 9, 2011


LAHAINA — A plan to transform the 55-year-old Lahaina Public Library into a model facility through fundraisers and other initiatives was released last week by Rotary Club of Lahaina, the comity project's sponsor.

Developed by Rick Cowan, owner of the Lahaina Design Center and Archipelago, as a donation to the community, the plan reconfigures the space, provides new Front Street signing, adds new flooring and shelving, and incorporates a modern raised circulation desk, according to Rotary Club of Lahaina President Carmen Karady and Rotarian Sara Foley, who is also the West Side board member of Maui Friends of the Library.

"When I first walked in," planner Cowan said, "I was struck by bookshelves with different heights providing a feeling of clutter. When I approached from Front Street, I couldn't tell whether the building was closed or open."

Lahaina will get this modern public library if the community steps up with donations of time and money, according to the sponsoring Rotary Club of Lahaina. Drawings by Rick Cowan.

Cowan's plan, which has been presented for review by the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS), opens the Front Street door to the library that has been closed for many years as well as the current door facing Lahaina Harbor.

The plan also calls for a new circulation desk that will be elevated (so library staff can see both doors), new paint, new signage and reorganizing the interior by placing the children's section close to the circulation desk — where it can be easily supervised — and moving the adult section below windows with an ocean view.

A new security system for each door purchased by the North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund at a cost of $50,000 will help prevent losses of books and other library materials.

Adding uniform height bookshelves between the two library doors will produce a sense of order while allowing better air circulation to capture the ocean breezes, Cowan said.

Years ago, he explained, the architect positioned the buildings to assure maximum use of the cool breezes. Although not air conditioned, the library's many windows and two open doors should provide the comfort level originally envisioned, Cowan noted.

Foley is co-chair of the renovation committee with Branch Librarian Madeleine Buchanan. Maui Friends of the Library President Dorothy Tolliver and representatives of the Rotary Club of Lahaina are also involved.

Foley said that "the right community support will give Lahaina a library for the 21st century that we can all be proud of.

"It will be a place that will be a joy to go to — an environment that will encourage students, adult patrons and many part-time visitors to make full use of the collections and the services," she said.

Within the next year, the state plans to replace ten Internet, catalog access and staff computers, add two new laptops and provide free wi-fi for the first time.

Noting that HSPLS does not have sufficient funds to renovate Lahaina's library, Tolliver praised the library plan.

"Mr. Cowan is an exceptional professional who has made a long-term commitment to this project that will add so much to the community," she said.

Tolliver added that today's libraries can be as vibrant as ever.

"The computer and electronic readers have not replaced libraries. In fact, libraries have embraced these technologies and are continuing to do so."

Librarian Buchanan said the plan "is very exciting — a great change. The library will be much more welcoming and comfortable."

Buchanan is working closely with the renovation committee to be sure the plan meets the needs of every resident and visitor, as well as state and federal standards.

A state project to revamp the library would cost tens of thousands of dollars, according to planners.

"This is money the state does not have," Foley said. "To bring this plan to reality, we need donations of services for general contracting and painting, and donations and discounts for materials like wood, paint, flooring materials, granite and more.

"We're hoping the July 14 'Savor the Sunset' gala will give us a big push forward."

Last year's benefit raised enough for new furniture for the adult section now in place.

The Rotary Club of Lahaina is spearheading the second of three years of summer galas to help fund the facelift. This year's "Savor the Sunset" gala is set for Thursday, July 14, on the oceanside lawn of the Royal Lahaina Resort.

Tickets are $35 each for the event that will feature first-class food and music by Citrus College's award-winning big band, which is donating the talents of its young musicians.

The modest price for the event is set to encourage attendance, according to Karady.

"We're hoping that the donation boxes at each table will be filled to the brim with checks from attendees to support the renovation," she commented.

She added that a few of the people attending last year's "Savor the Sunset" event, and even some who could not attend, voluntarily made special contributions.

Maui Friends of the Library will receive funds from the gala, which will be used solely for the library facelift. Donation checks should be made out to "Maui Friends of the Library for Lahaina."

For more information on attending the event or donating auction items, call Liz May of 5A Rent-A-Space at 669-5200.

Tickets for the event can also be purchased at the Royal Lahaina Resort by calling 661-3611, extension 2348.

North Beach West Maui Benefit Fund, Inc.

P O BOX 11329
LAHAINA, Hawaii 96761