Honokaa Public Library celebrates 80 years
HONOKAA — This year Honokaa Public Library is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a special exhibit now through June 30, and a community celebration June 15.
With one of the highest literacy rates in the world — as high as 95 percent in 1834 — it’s no surprise that Hawaii has such a well-established library system.
“The alii, and in particular Queen Emma, had a lot to do with the start of libraries,” said Momi Naughton, North Hawaii Education and Research Center’s Heritage Center curator.
In 1879 the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association was founded by the Kingdom of Hawaii, later to become the Hawaii State Library in 1909. King Kalakaua, Queen Emma, Queen Kapiolani and Bernice Pauahi Bishop, along with community members, gave financial support and donated books.
“Queen Emma donated over 600 volumes,” said Naughton.
In 1921 the County Library Law called for the establishment of separate libraries on Kauai, Maui and Hawaii Islands. This was the beginning of Honokaa’s first little library room, which was housed in the Sakada Store building.
The Honokaa Union Church, established in 1921 on A.B. Lindsey residential property mauka of Mamane Street, became the next home for the library collection.
Sometime in the 1930s, “The Honokaa Women’s Club decided that the town needed its own library so they pitched it to the territorial government to get funding,” said Laura Eifert, Honokaa library’s branch manager.
The building was also funded by the Works Projects Administration, which had been established in 1933.
The current structure, completed in 1937, was designed by Hawaiian architect and Kohala native Harry Kaonohi Stewart, who was also the territorial architect and supervisor of buildings. Constructed by K. Takimoto, the final cost of the building was $14,000.
The new library, whose twin library on Molokai had opened six months earlier, opened June 5, 1937, with a ceremony attended by local dignitaries, prominent community members and of course Mrs. MacFarlane, the first librarian.
At the makai end of the room is the outline of the fireplace that originally kept Honokaa library visitors warm. There are also records that indicate that the library had both telephone and electrical services.
Along with a history of libraries in Hawaii, the display shows prominent events and books published in 1937, such as “The Hobbit,” “Of Mice and Men” and “To Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street.”
Eifert is planning a public celebration from 4-6 p.m. June 15 that will include music by John Keawe and hula by the Honokaa Youth Center halau. There will be refreshments and a library scavenger hunt for objects related to 1937.
The fun will continue throughout the summer.
“We’ll have Movie Mondays at 4 p.m. Mondays, Storytime at 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Lego Club at 2:30 pm on Wednesdays,” said Eifert.
Other special events will be from 3:30-5 p.m. on Thursdays, beginning June 8 with the Marshmallow Construction Challenge, Paper Circuits June 22, Marbling June 29, a Paper Airplane Challenge July 6, a Bookend Painting Party July 13, a Dinosaur Dig July 20 and Catapult Building July 27.