Around $300,000 of volunteer work and donations were unveiled Tuesday when the Lahaina Public Library reopened its doors after a three-month renovation made possible by community organizations and volunteers.
"It looks fantastic. We're so happy it's open," said Povi Larsen of Napili, who was reading to her 2-year-old daughter, Kailea, in the library's new children's section.
Napili’s Povi Larsen reads to daughter Kailea, 2, at the Lahaina Public Library on Tuesday afternoon, the day the library reopened after a renovation project. Larsen said they have been visiting the library since Kailea was born and had to drive to the Kihei Public Library while the Lahaina facility was closed.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Lahaina Public Library Branch Manager Madeleine Buchanan basks in the improvements to the facility not long after it was reopened to the public Tuesday afternoon. The renovation project was the result of community organizations and volunteers.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
The Larsens, who drove to the Kihei Public Library when Lahaina was closed, had already gathered up a bag full of books to borrow in less than half an hour. Mother and daughter sat on a newly upholstered bench, a donation from a business.
Povi Larsen admired the library's shiny new green floor. The new flooring replaced the old asbestos tiles that lined the floors, said library Branch Manager Madeleine Buchanan.
"It feels great," Buchanan said of the renovations as well as finally reopening the library's doors.
Grand Reopening Celebration and Blessing
Where: Lahaina Public Library, 680 Wharf St.
When: 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday
What: Awarding of certificates by state Sen. Roz Baker, tours of the library, ice cream and refreshments. No regular library services will be available.
The event is free and open to the public.
Buchanan noted the various upgrades, 34 new bookcases that replaced the taller and old "mix and match" cases of wood and steel as well as the new granite-covered circulation desk, new desk for the public computers, new coats of paint and new restroom facilities.
"It really makes you appreciate what the community does," Buchanan said of the volunteer efforts to renovate the 57-year-old library.
Over three years, the Rotary Club of Lahaina, with the cooperation of the Maui Friends of the Library, fundraised and solicited donations for the project, said project coordinator Sara Foley, who sits on the boards of both organizations.
Volunteers got the blessing and help of the Hawaii State Public Library System for the project, which didn't cost the state a dime, organizers added.
According to an announcement, the project started with a benefit that raised $5,000 for library furniture, but when designer Rick Cowan of Archipelago Maui created an interior plan and suggested the entire library be redone, Rotary members agreed.
Foley said she felt "terrific" to see the project come to fruition.
"The community was incredible here," she said.
Foley thanked the contractors and volunteers who donated their time, money or gave the organizations "deep discounts" for their top-notch work. Restaurants donated lunches for workers, and other businesses and individuals also donated time and money.
"You ask people to help, and they do. It's very aloha," she said.
Foley estimated that, including in-kind donations and help, the cost of the project is around $300,000. She said out of that total the out-of-pocket costs were around $84,000.
Volunteer John Tryggestad of the Maui Friends of the Library stood outside the library waiting for its doors to open.
"It's been fun watching the progress," he said of the renovations that ran from August to this month.
Tryggestad of Kihei said that even before the construction work began, his volunteer efforts began as he collected 750 cardboard banana boxes. In them, the library moved 35,000 books.
On Tuesday, he described the transformation as "totally awesome; it's beyond our dreams."
In an email, State Librarian Richard Burns called the combined effort of the organizations to help the library "unprecedented in Hawaii."
"The amount of support they have marshaled in their community, including volunteers, fundraising, in-kind donations and manpower, are an inspiration. Not only has this collective effort refurbished and rejuvenated the library building, it has motivated the support and appreciation of people throughout the community for their library," Burns wrote.
Burns will be on hand at the library's official grand opening celebration and blessing on Sunday.
Buchanan, who has worked at the library for six and a half years, can now take full advantage of the local breezes, because the new and lower bookshelves allow air to circulate better in the library, which has no air conditioning.
And, she can clearly see from one end of the library to the other, the water at the wharf as well as smell the sea breeze.
Besides enjoying the scenery, Buchanan said patrons will be able to better use the library now that staff has set up the adult section near the public computers. Adults can sit and wait on chairs nearby and read a magazine.
The children's section has been moved from near the computer area to the Front Street side of the building, allowing children their own space, without adults waiting for computers infringing on the children's section.
Buchanan said that the renovations did not give the library more space for books because staff needed to see how the layout of shelves and other furniture would look like once the renovations were done.
But surveying the space Tuesday, she said the library probably could accommodate more books, but it would need more bookcases, which are not on hand. But they could be donated, she added.
The closure of the library gave staff members time to weed out old VHS tapes. Now, there are at least 100 more DVD titles to borrow, Buchanan said.
Although patron Maria Sweet of Honokowai liked the renovations, she added that she would like to see more computers as well as have the library open more frequently.
The library's regular hours are Tuesdays, noon to 8 p.m.; Wednesdays and Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Fridays and Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
For more information, call the library at 662-3950.
For photos on the volunteer efforts, visit lahainalibraryfacelift.wordpress.com.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.