LIHU‘E — Karen Ikemoto being Kaua‘i’s first Librarian of the Year was reason for Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. to declare Thursday as Karen Ikemoto Day on Kaua‘i.
“You now have something special you can tell your family,” said county Managing Director Gary Heu, representing Carvalho. “You actually have a day named in your honor.”
As Ikemoto was late to receive the honors, Carvalho peeped out anxiously before having to leave for another pressing engagement.
“She (Ikemoto) was supposed to be accompanied by some of the Friends of the Hanapepe Public Library, but unfortunately, they suffered an injury,” said Cyndi Ayonon of the Mayor’s Office.
Ikemoto, arriving graciously, accepted the honor from Gary Heu. She said she did get a phone call earlier in the morning, but thought it was one of the Civil Defense notification calls.
“I actually was up early, but I just thought I would lie down for a while,” said Ikemoto, adding that the library opens at midday because of its late hours.
The proclamation naming Mar. 22 as Karen Ikemoto Day states the librarian at the Hanapepe Public Library was selected for her accomplishments during these tough economic times, her aloha to patrons and for her ability to promote the library by partnering with the community.
“The Hanapepe Library is a real community gathering place,” Ikemoto said, relegating the honors to the Friends of the Library group. “They have a crafts workshop on Wednesdays, but it’s more like a potluck.”
The gatherings and community meetings, including the popular Marine Environment Lecture Series offered free to the public once a month, are held in the library’s new meeting room.
The construction and completion of this addition to the library was a major factor in her selection as the state’s Librarian of the Year, the selection being made late February by the State Friends of the Library organization.
“Karen is more than deserving of the Librarian of the Year Award,” said Sen. Ron Kouchi during the Education Week celebration organized by the state Senate Committee on Education Mar. 12. “She has gone to extraordinary lengths to upgrade facilities and services at the Hanapepe Public Library to better meet the needs and interests of the local community. Her humility, kindness and passion for the profession make her more than deserving of this honor.”
During the Education Week recognition, Ikemoto received a Certificate of Recognition from the state Senate, that certificate being joined by the mayor’s proclamation Thursday.
Ikemoto humbly said the credit should go to the community who worked to get the additional facility for the library, and when the room was completed, because there were no funds in the budget for furniture, the community came through with furniture, a refrigerator and even a microwave oven.
During her 35 years of dedicated service to the Hawai‘i State Public Library System, Ikemoto has done an outstanding job sharing her valuable knowledge by connecting people of all ages with books which provide education and wisdom, the proclamation states.
She has also touched the lives of many, including those in the Mayor’s Office. Heu remembered her as the librarian at Lihu‘e Public Library, and county spokeswoman Mary Daubert remembered working with Ikemoto at Border’s Books and Music, Ikemoto being among the final crew to close the doors of the popular bookstore.
Ikemoto has served the state library system as the Young Adult Librarian at the Lihu‘e Public Library, branch manager of the Koloa Public Library and the Lihu‘e Public Library before settling at Hanapepe.
In her current position as branch manager of the Hanapepe Public Library, Ikemoto is known for her intelligence, competence and compassion, going to great lengths to improve existing library facilities through her unique leadership skills and her ability to form effective partnerships, the proclamation states.
• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.