KAPAA — Libraries are never out of date, said Lani Kawahara, branch manager at the Kapaa Public Library.
“Technology keeps us up to date,” Kawahara said. “We have programs like the ‘Libraries Without Walls,’ and there are resources from the library, which are available 24/7, every day.”
The Kapaa Public Library celebrated its 60th anniversary Tuesday. It formally opened on March 12, 1955, and regular operation started March 14. The celebration was held back so it could coincide with National Library Month in April.
“Libraries are a person’s best friend,” said Kaohu Harada, a kumu hula who had Kawahara as a teacher in the seventh grade and performed the traditional Hawaiian dedication. “When you are a student and doing research, the library becomes your best friend. Today, my son Zen comes to the library to expand his learning and imagination.”
Kawahara, who said she was a teacher for a year before becoming a librarian, said the celebration epitomizes the library.
“This is what libraries are about,” Kawahara said. “It’s multi-generational, from keiki to kupuna. Libraries touch families. They’re a safe place where the community can learn and, as Kaohu said, expand imagination.”
Takeko Yamane, a performer with the Kapaa Senior Center Ukulele band who provided entertainment for the anniversary celebration, served as the library’s branch manager from 1958 to 1985.
“It’s really hard to call it a job,” Yamane said. “I was a bookworm and for me, this was pleasure. I just love books and reading.”
Yamane said she remembers when the sugar trains passed by the library.
“You could hear them chug-a-lugging along,” Yamane said. “When you heard them, you had to close all the windows to keep the dust out.”
Retired Judge Bill Fernandez, scheduled to close the monthlong festivities with a presentation of “Rainbows Over Kapaa: History of Kapaa Town,” April 21, said he remembers the area before the library came into reality at a cost of $100,000 for building and books.
“We never had a library,” Fernandez said. “If we wanted to borrow books, we had to go to Lihue. This area was just an empty lot with a tennis court. Building the library was such a good thing for Kapaa, the most populous part of the island.”
Yamane said she remembers when Hawaii became a state and the library being turned over from the county to the state.
“Funds for the original library were allocated to the County Department of Public Works,” Kawahara said. “When we became a state, the Board of Supervisors had to vote to turn it over to the state.”
Since its inception, the library has expanded twice to where it is now 39 percent larger than it was in 1955. A study done in 2008 looked into the possibility of expanding it more, but the study concluded “the current site had too many site development issues to address, making it unfeasible at that time.”
Seth Yamamoto, one of the four employees at the library, said it’s a beautiful place to work.
“I never used to come to library when I was in school,” he said. “What makes it nice to work here is because it’s right next to the beach. The beauty of working here is because everyone here is from Kapaa.”
The celebration continues with the presentation of “The Antikythera Mechanism: 2,000-year-old computer” by Dr. Gareth Wynn-Williams of the University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy on April 14, from 6:30 to 7:17 p.m. at the library.
On April 19, the Friends of the Kapaa Public Library invites everyone to view a triple feature adventure movie about a librarian protecting a secret collection of artifacts, including a spear, a chalice, and other magical items. The film will be shown from 1 to 5:30 p.m.
The festivities wrap up on April 21 with Fernandez’s presentation from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.
All events are free and at the Kapaa Public Library.