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MFOL to build, donate high-tech mobile library to serve the community

By Staff | Jun 4, 2015

From left, veteran driver RJ Ancheta, mobile library consultant Michael Swendrowski and Wailuku Public Library Branch Manager Susan Werner review plans for a new Maui Branch Mobile Library. The previous 21-year-old vehicle is in the background.

WAILUKU – The Maui Friends of the Library (MFOL), operator of three highly successful bookstores that have sold many thousands of used books, plans to have a new, high-tech, $280,000 Mobile Branch Library (bookmobile) custom built for Maui and donate it to the Hawaii State Public Library System for use here, according to MFOL President Beth Ivey.

The nonprofit group retained mobile library consultant Michael Swendrowski of Specialty Vehicle Services in Wisconsin to work with them to design the custom vehicle.

Swendrowski has designed more than 100 mobile libraries that are now serving communities ranging from Washington, D.C., to Portland, Oregon to islands in the Caribbean.

He started the process with a visit recently to travel Maui roads and work out design ideas with the MFOL committee headed by Dorothy Tolliver.

Wailuku Public Library Branch Manager Susan Werner, who started her library career on Maui as the librarian on an earlier vehicle, is working with the MFOL committee and the consultant to complete all of the details.

She noted that the plan is for the new 30-foot vehicle to offer complete library services, including books, e-books, special programs, checkout and Internet access.

The current vehicle in service for 21 years still goes out twice a week but often suffers from mechanical problems. It can no longer travel over the county’s steep grades. Plans call for this old vehicle to be retired and its driver to move to the new vehicle.

MFOL has asked that in addition to the driver, the new bookmobile have a full-time librarian in charge and on board, making this a true Mobile Branch Library.

“We have gotten tremendous support from the state library system and our legislators for the librarian position to be added for the new bookmobile. This position is in the budget that was forwarded last week to Governor Ige for consideration,” Tolliver noted.

Tolliver explained that the librarian’s job will be to work with patrons to identify and fulfill needs for each of the stops, to schedule special programs, and to make sure this investment pays off for the Maui community in greater access to all kinds of materials and services a library can provide.

“We are so grateful this need has been recognized and acted upon in this legislative session,” Tolliver said.

The goal is to deliver the vehicle within a year.

MFOL was the group responsible for the renovation of Lahaina Public Library working with the Rotary Club of Lahaina.

The all volunteer nonprofit MFOL operates the used bookstore at The Wharf Cinema Center in Lahaina as well as bookstores in Queen Ka’ahumanu Center and in Puunene.