Kapolei Public Library Celebrates 15 Big Years

Age 15 is old for a dog, young for a person, and barely a blip in the history of a library.

The al-Qarawiyyin Library in Morocco turns 1,160 this year. The oldest U.S. library, the Portsmouth Athenaeum, just turned 200. But you have to start somewhere. Being a young city, Kapolei also has a young library.

The Kapolei Public Library opened its doors on August 16, 2004, and celebrates 15 years of serving the community on Saturday.

What: Kapolei Public Library 15th Anniversary Celebration

Who: Speakers include Councilmember Kymberly Pine, State Librarian Stacey Aldrich, and library user and motivational speaker Fred Amina. Music by slack-key guitar master Jeff Peterson. Here’s the full schedule of events.

When: Saturday, August 24, 10am-3pm.

Liane Watanuki is temporary branch manager of the Kapolei Public Library, and was one of the original staff members when the library opened.

“I think our identity was forged by our first branch manager, Richard Burns, who later retired as our State Librarian,” says Watanuki. “He was a natural leader and motivator. He had a way of inspiring people to want to do their best.”

For the 24 full-time staff at Kapolei Public Library, doing their best means doing more than nearly any other library staff in the state of Hawaiʻi.

Kapolei’s Is The Second-Largest Library In The State

“As a regional library, Kapolei Public Library serves as an anchor or resource library not only for the Makakilo and Kapolei communities, but for all of West Oʻahu,” Watanuki says. “We’re the second largest library in the state and we’re probably the second-most busiest library in terms of circulation.”

“Everything about Kapolei is ‘abundant,'” she says.

Among the abundance we’re lucky enough to enjoy:

  • More than 143,000 items in the Kapolei Public Library collection (approximately 12,000 of which are media items such as CDs and DVDs.)
  • Kapolei’s circulation is consistently within the top 2 highest in the state, with an average of 22,000 items checked out per month.
  • 42 public computers and laptops.
  • Weekly children’s programs and monthly adult book club sessions throughout the year.
  • A staff of 24 full-time employees, plus dedicated volunteers.
  • And let’s not forget that large parking lot!

Kapolei Public Library Was Built on a Foundation of Generosity

For the ultimate credit for the library’s success, Watanuki looks back to a previous century, to the family of James Campbell.

“The land on which the library is located was given to the state in trust by the Campbell Estate,” she says. “Each time I conduct class or group tours, I stop at our James and Abigail Campbell Reading Room to show them the portraits of ancestors of the Campbell family. I ask the groups to consider the size of the library, its parking lot, and grounds. ‘Til this day, the enormity of the Estate’s generosity still amazes me.”

Motivational speaker and author Fred Amina is one who has benefited from the Campbell’s generosity. Amina used library resources such as computers, books, and online access to write and promote his book Goodness & Mercy. The book, loosely based on Amina’s life story, tells of a man’s recovery from alcoholism and divorce. Now he shares his tale of redemption as a speaker.

What Do The Next 15 Years Hold For Kapolei Public Library?

Looking into the future, Kapolei Branch Manager Watanuki sees the recent past as a guide. As Kapolei has continued to grow and attract young families, the library has moved to meet this demand.

“This year, through the efforts of our Children’s Librarian, Christy Nathan, we’ve been very successful in offering more outstanding educational programs such as Discovery Day with NOAA,” says Watanuki.

“Ms. Nathan has also arranged amazing programs in collaboration with the University of Hawaii Graduate Women in Science. These include the Coding for Kids, Sharks, and Harry Potter Day.”

“I would like to see these types of partnerships continue on for the next 15 years.”

Notable Achievements & Events In Kapolei Public Library History

2007: Circulation Staff awarded the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS) Team of the Year

2012: Mary Ann Collignon won the HSPLS Employee of the Year

2006: Melissa Jordan won the Excellence in Service Award

2007: Lawrence Nihoa won the Excellence in Service Award

2008: Stacie Kaneshige (former Branch Manager) won the HSPLS Librarian of the Year Award

2019: Christy Nathan received the Sustained Superior Performance Award

Musical programs: Kenny Endo; Music is Good Medicine featuring Jake Shimabukuro; John Keawe.

Crafting Programs: Needle Felting; Upcycling Crafts; Lei-Making.

Educational Programs: Discovery Day with NOAA; Coding for Kids; All Things Buggy

Community Service Events: Health Fairs; Financial Literacy Fairs; ongoing Kupuna Akamai individualized computer tutorial sessions for seniors.