On our way to Kauai’s Grand Canyon, a Christmas colored version of the AZ natural wonder, we popped into the Hanapepe Public Library (HPL). This branch of the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS – an entity I covered before in my post on one of Maui’s libraries) is conveniently located just across the main drag from the quaint downtown, where a long creaking and swinging pedestrian bridge gets you across the river. ‘Ele’ele Elementary School and a park are close by and just up the road is a fascinating industrial area where you’ll find a beach made of small pieces of sea glass. Beyond the adjacent graveyard, a lava arch and keyhole cave are hidden on the rocky black caterpillar-dotted coastline.
Other hidden (literary) treasures can be found at HPL, a one story white stucco building surrounded by ginger bushes and palm trees, that’s one of six HSPLS facilities on the island. Outside, there’s ample parking, a water fountain, a curvy bike rack and on the glossy red concrete floor of the lanai, a fresh air book giveaway is protected from the elements by an overhanging roof.
Once through the wood lattice sliding door, I was greeted by one of their four friendly staffers who introduced me to Karen Ikemoto, the branch manager.
She told me they serve about 10,000 people in Hanapepe and nearby villages. The building opened in 1950 and has 5,350 square feet, not including the meeting space that was added in 2010. The collection holds more than 34,000 items.
Open five days a week, they have wifi, six adult computers (one with a sunny yellow ZoomText large print keyboard for the visually impaired and there’s a touch screen also) and items are barcoded. HPL loans out a mobile Netbook computer equipped with Microsoft Office for up to three weeks and offers lots of manga, as well as CD’s, DVDs and books (including some Asian titles).
Stands hold informational brochures and a colorful notice site announces bestsellers, new features and events. HPL hosted over eighty programs this year, including such hits as the Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s Peter Rabbit, and answered more than 10,000 reference questions. Nearly 500 people read over 7,000 books for their Fizz Boom Summer Reading Program, and participants were entertained by a slack key guitarist and a session on Hardware Science.
A wheelchair ramp leads to the 2200′ meeting room which accommodates about 60 people and has a 50″ TV purchased by the Friends of the Hanapepe Library whose book sale (buy discarded DVD’s for $1 or kid’s books for 25¢) and crafting efforts help cross things off the library’s wish list.
Overhead, twirling wood fans assist the air conditioning and complement the diagonal panels in the dark timber ceiling. Intriguingly fashioned bamboo tables, cushioned chairs and couches invite customers to sit and relax. At a study table, tennis balls covering the ends of the sharp metal seat legs preserve the carpeting.
Stuffed animals, ceramic figurines, floral arrangements, framed photos and anomalies like lava lamps dominate shelf tops and tots can create art with the stencil machine the Friends donated.
The multiple slots of the rack attached to the side of the Reference case house flyers with parenting tips and the Teddy Bear Post. The coin operated copier machine is near the young adult fiction and there are several revolving towers of paperbacks and a New Book spot.
HPL is a busy institution that serves its community well and has a facebook page adorned with a photo of the library and the HSPLS hibiscus logo.
Oversize titles and civil service exams share space by cutouts of Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger too).
The children’s corner lies beneath high curtained windows that encircle the rooms. Plush toys are everywhere and book/CD combos sit beside suggested reading lists.
Vividly covered kid’s Hawaiiana materials (the adult ones are closer to the entry) are shelved below an educational poster of local flora and fauna (of which the wild pig shown above is the largest – they are hunted in the ravines and gorges of this lush piece of paradise).
As I headed out, I noticed a shelf by the circulation station with recently returned items lets users pick from presumably popular choices – kind of like “Resident Recommendations” rather than “Staff Selections.”
And a strategically placed array of oshibana products affords the Friends a last chance to get you to open your wallet and support this charmingly eclectic little library.