Residents and community groups got together to do something the state could not do. The band of volunteers provided $300,000 worth of renovations to the 57-year-old Lahaina Public Library.
"People, they are blown away, it's beautiful," said Sara Foley, coordinator of the face-lift project that mainly involved Rotary Club of Lahaina and Maui Friends of the Library.
The library was painted inside and out. New furniture, including new bookshelves, was installed. There are new desks for the public computers. There is a granite-covered circulation desk and new restroom facilities.
Posing in Lahaina Public Library are John Tryggestad (from left), secretary of the Maui Friends of the Library; Liz May, Rotary Club of Lahaina president and general manager of 5A Rent-A-Space; Sara Foley, coordinator of the Lahaina Public Library face-lift; and designer Rick Cowan, owner Archipelago Maui. The group worked together to accomplish a volunteer-driven renovation of the library.
Volunteers and library workers said that the newly painted floor and the lower bookcases that allow light and air to come into the library enhance the beauty of the seaside library.
In three years, Rotary Club of Lahaina and Maui Friends of the Library fundraised and solicited donations for the project that didn't cost the Hawaii State Library System a dime.
State Librarian Richard Burns has called the effort "unprecedented in Hawaii."
The project started with a benefit that raised $5,000 for furniture, but when designer architect Rick Cowan of Archipelago Maui created an interior plan and suggested the entire library be redone, volunteers agreed.
Cowan drew conceptual drawings and developed a budget. And, he worked with contractors and selected furniture and new bookcases.
Foley said many contractors and volunteers donated their time, money or gave deep discounts to do top-notch work. Restaurants donated lunches for workers, and other businesses and individuals donated time and money.
After the library reopened in November, Foley said: "You ask people to help, and they do. It's very aloha."
Liz May, president of the Rotary Club of Lahaina and manager of 5A Rent-A-Space, got her company to store, haul and inventory the boxes of books as the library was being renovated.
John Tryggestad, who is described by Foley as a "super volunteer" from Maui Friends of the Library, collected 750 banana boxes needed to pack and store the books safely.
He spent more than 400 hours helping with the project, working almost every day except Sundays for the 12 weeks that the library was closed from Aug. 14 to Nov. 13, Foley said.
* Melissa Tanji can be reached at email@example.com.