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Library invites community to 55th birthday celebration

By Staff | Mar 3, 2011

Planting Day volunteers spruce up the grounds of the new Lahaina Public Library in 1956. The large white building on the north side of the library was a power and ice plant where a soda called Howdy was bottled.

LAHAINA — With birthday cake, a blessing, music, readings from West Side authors and two children’s story times, Lahaina Public Library will commemorate its 55th year on Saturday, March 5.

Librarian Madeleine Buchanan invites residents and visitors, including book lovers of all ages, to join in the celebration from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Festivities will include keiki story time with Kana Shephard of Maui’s Read Aloud program at 10:30 a.m.

A blessing at 11 a.m. will inaugurate the library’s modern new self-checkout system funded by the Maui Friends of the Library.

Readings will be conducted by the authors of “Practice Aloha” and “Voices of Maui: Natives and Newcomers,” as well as Kahu David Kapaku, whose new book was recently published.

Shephard will conduct another children’s story time from 1:30 to 2 p.m. The event will also feature entertainment and surprises.

With the library for 33 years, Hatsumi Kadotani, 84, will join in the celebration.

She started working in the state library system in 1953, when she took a job at the library’s previous location underneath the Baldwin Home’s Masters’ Reading Room.

Kadotani served as an assistant to more than 15 professional librarians over the years at Lahaina Public Library.

She recalls quick construction of the library, approved in 1953, completed in 1955 and opened with special ceremonies in 1956.

Seventh- and eighth-graders from King Kamehameha III Elementary School carried 6,000 books along Front Street to the new location.

The new library circulated 28,000 books the first year and had almost 1,800 active borrowers, according to news accounts. Today it has 5,000 active borrowers and a collection of 35,000 books, 3,000 DVDs and videotapes and 400 audio tapes, Librarian Buchanan noted.

Lahaina’s library dates back to 1905, when Henry Perrine Baldwin made one room in the Baldwin Home a community reading room. A juvenile reading library opened in 1919.

For many years, the Lahaina and Makawao Library shared honors as the only two free libraries on Maui.

Efforts to build a separate $150,000 library in Lahaina began in 1938, but plans were interrupted by World War II. Finally, in 1953, the territorial legislature appropriated an initial $75,000 for construction.

Before the opening, the library held a planting day in which David Fleming planted a rainbow shower tree. Fleming was disappointed that a large banyan tree had to be cut down before construction could begin.

After 55 years, the library will soon undergo a major interior and outdoor facelift sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lahaina. A second Rotary benefit for the library will be held later this year.