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Library a vital public resource

By Staff | Sep 3, 2009

When Lahaina Public Library opens on Tuesday mornings after two days off, the line at the door is often 20 deep.

Many residents rely on the library to check job listings on the computers, read The Maui News and scan the classifieds, rent movies for $1 per week or learn the details of a controversial project in the public notices.

The state Board of Education must realize that families are hurting in this recession, and many people can’t spend money on a computer with Internet access, magazine subscriptions, new books and other media resources for learning and enjoyment.

Residents here were worried when they heard Lahaina Public Library’s fate would be discussed in a Board of Education meeting in Honolulu last week Wednesday.

West Maui Rep. Angus McKelvey attended the meeting and testified on the importance of Lahaina’s library. He and other officials do not think our library is on the chopping block.

The Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS) can attack its $3.5 million budget deficit by closing its 51 libraries two or more days each month. That’s a fair solution that keeps workers in the HSPLS employed and libraries open for the many residents who use them.

If the budget situation becomes dire, the Board of Education and HSPLS should hold a hearing in West Maui to grasp the area’s isolation and the importance of Lahaina Public Library in the community.

As McKelvey said, if Lahaina Public Library needs funds to remain open, LahainaTown Action Committee, the region’s two Rotary Clubs and lifelong library users would likely step up with a major fund-raiser.

Because government could not get the job done, residents here established the Napili fire and ambulance station and rebuilt the King Kamehameha III Elementary School playground, among many other campaigns. The West Maui Hospital & Medical Center and a stadium at Lahainaluna High School are the next major projects community leaders are working on.

Closing Lahaina Public Library is foolish and unfair to the many school children and residents who use it — some every day that it’s open. HSPLS should reach out to West Siders if there’s an issue threatening the library. The people of West Maui can resolve it.