Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.            

Don’t Say Shhhh

As the Hawaii State Library celebrates its centennial, this is far from your grandparents’ library, as libraries go digital, lend music and videos, and even host music concerts.

Where can you enjoy international folk music, get investment tips from local entrepreneurs, check 80 databases for the most obscure reference, read the latest best-seller, rent a movie and celebrate the centennial of a historic landmark?


Image 1 of 4

State librarian Richard Burns and Byrde Cestare of Friends of the Library. Photos by Nathalie Walker

If you answered the “Hawaii State Library,” go to the head of the class.

If you can’t relate those activities to a library – “Isn’t that a place just for books?” – turn in your library card and pay attention.

The Hawaii State Library at 478 S. King St., flagship of the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS), observes its 100th anniversary this year.

Over the years, it has evolved from a quiet place with dusty books to a vibrant community center and gathering place. Yes, there are books and quiet reading rooms, but technological advances have changed the way public libraries impart knowledge and interact with patrons.

To examine features of the modern-day library, we check in with Hawaii state librarian Richard Burns, director of Hawaii State Library Diane Eddy, and executive director of Friends of the Library of Hawaii Byrde Cestare.

The conversation is lively and filled with amazing facts that defy the prevailing perception of public libraries as stodgy reading rooms with dated material.

And never once did anyone ask us to “shhh.”

In fact, modern librarians hate that image, according to Cestare, and when we suggest it as MidWeek‘s front cover pose, she balks. We realize that we must turn the page on the way we portray libraries and close the book, once and for all, on a naïve, outmoded image.

“People are getting information differently today,” says Eddy. “Libraries are evolving and changing with the times to serve patrons with a universe of data in the form and media that they choose.”

From the traditional printed word to electronic wizardry of computers, eReaders and cell phones, it’s a new era.

Contrary to what one might assume, more people are finding their way to libraries. Families, business execs, scholars, researchers, and cultural specialists regard the library as a valued community center. This is validated by a recent Pew Research national survey that shows 91 percent of folks regard libraries as important assets to a community and rate them among the top tax-supported services.

“Libraries are centers of educational, cultural and intellectual exchange,” asserts Burns, who oversees the nation’s largest statewide system of 50 libraries on six islands.

Hawaii’s public library is truly a wonderland of subjects, services and surprises. Join us on a journey of discovery, from A to Z.

Alexander Joy Cartwright Jr. The “father of baseball” and a prolific reader was a co-founder of the Honolulu Library and Reading Room in 1879, forerunner of Hawaii’s state library system. He successfully fought to block a rule that prohibited women and children from becoming library members, writing, “What makes us old geezers think we are the only ones to be spiritually and morally uplifted by a public library in this city?”

Book Sale. An island tradition for 66 years, the Friends of the Library of Hawaii’s annual book sale is a market for bargain hunters of publications, records, CDs, DVDs and tapes. Get ready, set, go June 22-30 to McKinley High School Cafeteria for this fundraising safari.

Centennial Events. Special programs and events are being held at libraries statewide to commemorate the Hawaii State Library’s 100th anniversary. Music, storytelling, guest artists, historical exhibits,and other attractions are scheduled throughout the year, culminating with a gala event Dec. 28. Check out the “Programs and Events” section of the Library website.

Download. It’s like an ATM for books that’s available 24/7, is easy to use and has no late fees. Browse the Hawaii library website for audio books, eBooks and more. Check out your selection with a valid library card and download it to your PC, Mac or mobile device. Try it at: hawaii.lib.overdrive.com.

Email notification. You now can receive email notices to alert you of reserved and overdue items. It is timely, eco-friendly and confidential.

Free membership. A library card for Hawaii residents and stationed military is free. Whee! Fee for replacement and non-resident cards.

Gifts and gratitude. The library is funded by state, federal and grant allocations. Donations support literacy and cultural programs of interest to the community. Friends of the Library of Hawaii facilitate citizen and corporate support. Website is friendsofthelibraryofhawaii.org.

Hawaiian Legends Index. How did Maui slow the sun? Who is the Shark Man of Waipio? More than 80 research databases are available on the library website, including a Hawaiian Legends Index to places, mythological and historical figures, plants, animals, objects and activities.

Internet access. In 2012, HSPLS recorded an astounding 600,855 Internet sessions in its 50 libraries statewide.

Join book lovers at the Hawaii Music & Book Festival, May 18, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., on the Civic Center grounds. The Hawaii State Library booth will feature fun events and attractions, such as blind date with a book. And unlike speed dating, there are no awkward moments.

Keiki Storytime introduces preschool children to literature in an entertaining and enriching atmosphere. These 30- to 45-minute programs are recommended for ages 3 and older, accompanied by parent. Check library website for weekly schedule and locations.

Legislative webcasts. During the legislative session, walk-in patrons can access the Legislature’s proceedings through designated library computers. Select from House or Senate streaming webcasts and watch hearings, meetings and sessions with your own headphones or earbuds.

Multilingual. An interactive online learning resource known as PowerSpeak improves language skills in Spanish, French, German, Italian, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese or Korean.

New libraries. Aiea will have a new 17,200-square-foot library next year on the site of the former Aiea Sugar Mill. Plans are in the works for a new library in Nanakuli as well.

Online. The virtual destination for the Library of Hawaii is at librarieshawaii.org.

Picks. Hot Pick features high-demand new books or DVDs library customers may borrow for seven days. Hot Picks for May include And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, Inferno by Dan Brown, The Redeemer by Jo Nesbo, the movie Zero Dark Thirty and more.

Q. The Autobiography of Quincy Jones. Read about this talented American music producer, conductor and composer. His book is in the Art, Music & Recreation section, call No. 781.64092 Jones Jo.

Renew and relax. Need more time with a borrowed item? Now you can do renewals by phone or online at librarieshawaii.org.

Summer Reading. Visit a local library June 2-July 6, read at least one book per week and become eligible for a free reading incentive. Last summer, a record 20,000 children signed up for the program, supported by the Friends of the Library and several corporate sponsors.

Tech Academy. In partnership with Microsoft Corporation, the state library provides programs for technology training and preparation for certifications. Training includes MS Excel, Word and PowerPoint, in addition to advanced subjects such as programming, Web and database development. Portal is through the library website.

Ulu Tree. Presented by the Hawaii Youth Opera Chorus, directed by Nola A. Nahulu, Thursday, May 23, 6 p.m., at the Hawaii State Library, as part of the Centennial Celebration. Free.

Voter registration forms. Did you know that voter registration, income tax forms and passport applications are available at the Hawaii State Library? You do now.

Wi-Fi. Free wireless Internet access is available at all public libraries during open hours. Users provide a valid library card number and PIN to login.

XFiles. Miss an episode of this TV science fiction series? It’s on the shelf in the DVD section at several library branches for a bargain $1 rental fee.

Your public library was originally funded by Andrew Carnegie. The building was designed by architect Henry D. Whitfield. Groundbreaking took place in 1911 and construction was completed in 1913. In 1978, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Zamfir Plays the World’s Most Beautiful Melodies compact disc. Music by Romanian pan flute musician Gheorghe Zamfir, known for his mastery of Romanian popular music, instrumental pop and easy listening. Find his CD at the Hawaii State Library or Pearl City branch.

That’s the Hawaii State Library from A to Z. Now we’re on the same page.