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Reading is up in Lahaina, thanks to Maui Friends of the Library

By Staff | Aug 15, 2013

From left, Dorothy Tolliver, Maui Friends of the Library president; State Senators Gil Keith-Agaran and Jill Tokuda; MFOL Board Member John Tryggsestad; Librarian Madeleine Buchanan; and Sara Foley of the Rotary Club of Lahaina discuss Lahaina Public Library’s renovation project.

LAHAINA – Spurred by the renovation of Lahaina Public Library that has increased patronage and two new used bookstores opened by Maui Friends of the Library, book reading is up on Maui, said a MFOL store manager.

Books are moving off the shelves faster than ever before at three Maui Friends of the Library bookstores, with 55,000 sold in Kahului and Lahaina since openings last year, said Jo Ann Carroll, an experienced bookseller who is managing the stores.

“People may love their Kindles, but many of us still love to hold a book in our hands,” Carroll noted.

While touring schools and education-related facilities, Hawaii Senate Education Chair Jill Tokuda recently visited the renovated Lahaina Public Library and met with MFOL officials and members of the Rotary Club of Lahaina’s Library Restoration Committee. She praised the effort as a model of good community involvement.

Accompanied by Sen. Gilbert Keith-Agaran, a Higher Education Committee member representing Wailuku, Tokuda said she was impressed by the work of the MFOL and Rotary Club of Lahaina, as well as the library’s beautiful setting near Lahaina Harbor.

More than one-fourth of the 55,000 used books sold in MFOL stores have been purchased at the organization’s first shopping center location on the third floor of The Wharf Cinema Center in Lahaina.

Nearly 40,000 more books have been sold in ten months at the non-profit’s larger store near Sears at Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. MFOL also operates its original warehouse store in Puunene.

MFOL is looking for a volunteer retail store manager with experience in retail or book selling to succeed Carroll for its largest store in Kahului. Carroll will continue working in Lahaina.

Volunteers for four-hour shifts are needed for the Kahului location, especially because the store is open longer hours seven days a week.

The majority of books sell for $1 to $3 and sometimes include gems not found in new bookstores, according to Carroll.

In addition to a huge collection of mysteries popular with readers, both stores offer classic new and used books on Hawaiiana and a full range of novels and other books on every conceivable topic.

Carroll, an experienced bookseller for several decades, noted that the Ka’ahumanu store sometimes puts up valuable books for sale at prices up to $90. It recently received a large set of handsome, leather-bound classics that can be purchased individually for “prices that could be considered a steal,” she added.

“While people love books, increasing numbers are emptying their libraries and donating books to the stores, because they no longer have room in their homes,” Carroll said. All stores accept walk-in donations of books.

“The success of the stores helped us provide extra financial support to complete the Lahaina Library renovation and will enable us to make even greater contributions to programs run by the county’s nine libraries,” said Carroll, a member of the MFOL board.

Maui Friends of the Library, one of the island’s first non-profits, celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.