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WEST MAUI LAWMAKER FIGHTS PROPOSAL TO CLOSE LAHAINA LIBRARY

August 27, 2009, 4:20 PM HST · Updated August 27, 4:20 PM
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West Maui Lawmaker, Angus McKelvey testified Wednesday before the Board of Education to reject a proposal by the State Librarian that seeks the closure the Lahaina Library.

Angus McKelvey. File photo by Wendy Osher.

Angus McKelvey. File photo by Wendy Osher.

McKelvey says the library serves the entire area of West Maui, which on any given day has a population of about 20,000 people.  State Librarian Richard P. Burns proposed to closure of the Lahaina Library along with some Big Island libraries due to a lack of required staffing in order to meet the current funding and staffing shortfall.

State Representative Angus L.K. McKelvey urged members to look beyond the dollars consider the area’s geographic isolation and other factors before they made their decision.

“The Lahaina library serves the entire area of West Maui, which on any given day has a population of about 20,000 people,” McKelvey said in his testimony before the board at a hearing in Honolulu.  “West Maui has only one highway in and out of the area . . . [and] if the Lahaina library is indeed closed, then the nearest available public library is located over 30 miles away in Wailuku.”

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State officials have expressed concern that without temporary hires, the libraries would lack minimum staffing levels required to remain open.

McKelvey challenged the state library system and the Board to look at other alternatives to help make up the shortfall rather than resorting to closure of the Lahaina facility.

“Some ideas might be to create a volunteer program to help address the staffing situation without a complete closure,” McKelvey said. “Other ideas might be to work with community groups, such as the LahainaTown Action Committee, the Lahaina Rotary Clubs or the local PTAs, to develop community fundraisers or “Adopt-a-Library” program as was done with the “Save Our Sports” campaign.”

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McKelvey also urged the state to explore “kiosk partnerships” in which the state could enter into arrangements with private entities, such as coffee shops and food concessionaires, to operate at the library in exchange for rent and a proceed of the sales as is being done with commercial book stores all across Hawaii.

“In short, to simply shut down this historically valuable asset at a time when people need it the most without looking at all the possibilities would be . . . penny wise but pound foolish,” the West Maui lawmaker said.

McKelvey said that he and other lawmakers were willing to look at systemic funding ideas in addition to some of the thoughts that he floated to help keep the Lahaina library open.

(Posted by Wendy Osher)

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