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Lahaina workers step up to support libraries

By Staff | Oct 15, 2009

LAHAINA — “Keep the Doors Open!” is the matter-of-fact slogan in the Friends of the Library of Hawaii’s (FLH) 2009 campaign.

“Additional restrictions to the already lean budget of the Hawaii State Public Library System leave no place to cut without dramatically impacting services at all library branches, including possible closures,” the FLH website warns.

“We are asking every resident of Hawaii to donate at least $3 to help us meet this additional budget reduction of $3 million. Together, we can overcome this fiscal crisis at the libraries and Keep the Doors Open!”

The request is urgent, with convenient payment options.

Credit card donations may be made by phone at (808) 536-4174. Donations by check are also acceptable and should be made payable to FLH and mailed to Friends of the Library of Hawaii, 690 Pohukaina St., Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.

Donations can also be made at any Bank of Hawaii branch.

“Be sure to say it’s for the Keep the Doors Open! campaign for Hawaii’s public libraries,” FLH Executive Director Byrde Cestare suggested.

In a recent interview, Cestare told the Lahaina News, “We really want to cover all the shortfalls.”

Further, Cestare described ongoing fund-raising efforts statewide, as well as on the West Side, as creative and fruitful, specifically recognizing Old Lahaina Luau/Aloha Mixed Plate’s inner-company promotions.

“I really love the way communities are coming together to raise money to help their libraries,” she said.

“When the Partners of the Old Lahaina Luau (OLL)/Aloha Mixed Plate (AMP) saw the (Lahaina News) September 3 story about The Friends of the Library fund-raiser, they knew they wanted to support the cause,” explained Julie Yoneyama, company spokesperson.

In September, a total of $9,624 was raised and donated to the Lahaina and Hana Public Libraries.

Malia Kauila and Sarah Lake topped the list of contributors.

Kauila is an administrative assistant, with the OLL since 1988.

“Growing up (in Kaimuki, Oahu), I, too, was able to use the library as a resource for all projects,” she said. “Here, at the Old Lahaina Luau, upon putting out the word that we were taking donations, the responses I received were overwhelming!”

Margo Gill is a “hired sub” at the Lahaina Library.

Gill voiced her take on the September gift: “This was a wonderful community effort. I was so touched… a lot of those employees are just regular people with regular jobs, some of them just kids. They reached deep into their pockets and really what a beautiful thing. It was really what Lahaina is all about. It was very moving to me, and I was very touched by their generous gift. It was nice to see people in Lahaina step up.”

Branch Librarian Madeline Long was equally moved.

“This is money coming strictly from their employees. It was very generous, because we are all going through hard times right now. It was very, very generous and matched by the owners of the company,” she commented.

She added, “Did they tell you they are doing another fund-raiser in October?”

The October Aloha Mixed Plate promotion is an appetizing option, inviting the community to join the campaign to Keep the Doors Open!

Kauila is enthusiastic about the offer: “For every ‘Aloha Mixed Plate’ ordered, we will be donating $1 to the library fund. So, those of you who’d like to join the cause, come check it out! Good grinds, good cause!”

The October AMP plate lunch includes Teriyaki Beef, Shoyu Chicken and Grilled Mahi with two scoops of rice and macaroni salad for a cost of $9.95 plus tax.

There are other ways to contribute in these challenging economic times, including through the Maui Friends of the Library (MFOL) Used Book store.

A separate entity from the Friends of Library of Hawaii, MFOL is an all-volunteer organization founded in 1912.

Its retail store is located behind the old Puunene School near the HC&S sugar mill in Puunene. It’s open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Its president is John Clark, a former Lahaina librarian.

With in excess of 180,000 books and a selection of cassettes, VHS tapes, CDs and DVDs, “It can be challenging to find at first but is worth the effort,” Clark said.

With the monies generated by the MFOL Used Book store and through its dues structure, funding is provided for various items and programs for Maui County public libraries “which fall outside their budget,” Clark said.   

He urged the public to participate: “Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer!”

“There are tasks at every branch that can be done by volunteers, ranging from mending to re-shelving books to helping to keep the place clean and nicely appointed. Bring in flowers. Help decorate for the holidays. Be creative. Go in and offer assistance, but be patient with the librarian, who will be setting aside her other tasks, and those of a nonexistent staffer.”

Long is grateful for the community support, no matter what quarter.

“Everyday somebody comes into the library and asks how they can help, and it really makes me see how wonderful and lucky we are on the West Side in Lahaina — such a family-oriented place. It’s truly ‘ohana; it’s just so special,” she said.

“I could go on and on,” the branch librarian added. “I just have such strong feelings about it. I love it; it’s the best place in the world. For me, if there is a heaven, this is heaven when you deal with people like this.”