BY RON ELAND
North Hawaii News
In 1978 the Camp David Peace Treaty between Israel and Egypt began, the first test tube baby was born, the video game Space Invaders was created and the Thelma Parker Memorial Library opened its doors to the public.
Several things hadn’t changed over the years at the library — a helpful staff, plenty of books and a great place for children to go. And one more thing, its carpet.
But that changed last week as the 6,300-square-foot library got a much-needed facelift thanks to new carpeting throughout.
“It was 33 years old — it was time,” said librarian Pam Akao. “It had been on the state’s CIP (capital improvement projects) list for quite a while. Even since I’ve been here I’ve been trying to get us new carpet — it was so nasty.”
Akao said they had a benefactor who left a “substantial” amount of money in his will to the library. The money covered the cost of the new carpeting which carried a price tag of nearly $33,000. She said it would have been much higher had it not been for the fact that Waimea Flooring Company — who did the work- donated quite a bit of free labor.
“We had guys who wanted to help so we rounded up the troops,” said Waimea Flooring Company owner Harrison “Beanie” Heen. “A lot of the guys who work for me came here as kids so they wanted to help.”
Heen agreed that new carpeting was long past due.
“It was bad,” he said. “After a while it becomes a health hazard.”
Was it the worst he’s ever seen?
“It was right up there,” he said, laughing.
Instead of rolling out 6,000 square feet of carpeting, carpet tiles were used. Heen said they are very popular these days especially within non-residential buildings such as airports and schools. That’s because if a tile becomes stained or ripped, it can simply be removed and replaced with another 3-foot by 3-foot panel.
Last year the carpets were professional cleaned which helped but it really pointed out how badly the carpet had faded over the years. The building is not air conditioned so windows are opened for ventilation. However, Akao said that allows quite a bit of dust and dirt to come in which ruins not only the carpet but the books as well.
“Getting the building air conditioned is my next campaign,” she said.
The library ended up being closed for just three days — a fourth if you count last Friday following the tsunami. Compare that to the Molokai Library which is smaller but it is going to be closed for nearly a month as its carpet is replaced. Akao said had Thelma Parker Library gone through the CIP process, she feels it may have taken an additional five years to get the carpeting completed.
“We lucked out being able to go private,” she said “And, I don’t think this would have been done in a week.”
The library received the benefactor’s donation nearly two years ago and is now being overseen by the Friends of the Library. The group has also raised money for the library through a variety of ventures including book sales and their ongoing Book Nook and pencil sales. In addition to raising money, the Friends’ volunteers help with day-to-day operations at the library which has 56,000 items and checks out 10,000 books and other materials each month. Akao said without them, the small paid staff would be stretched way too thin.
“We have a really, really, really great Friends group here,” Akao said. “I lucked out. Their goal is to provide support to us. They don’t lose sight of the library’s purpose and its overall needs.”
Carol Buck, director of the Friends volunteers, said she, too, is very pleased with the final product. And she added that without the benefactor’s donation, it would have taken Friends at least another year or two of fundraising the pay for the carpet.
“It’s beautiful,” she said. “We’ve already received a lot of positive feedback from patrons. It was definitely needed. We had duct tape everywhere to cover rips and holes in the carpet.”
During last week’s interview, Akao said she was confident the public would like the library’s new look.
“I think they will absolutely love it — especially the kids who are on the floor more than they are in the chairs,” she said.