Hawaii State Library Then and Now

Today’s Then and Now’s featured library is the Hawaii State Library in Honolulu.  I’ve been featuring some beautiful libraries in New England over the past year, but wanted to share something totally different this time.  Hawaii is close my my heart, as is New England, because my mother is from Hawaii and most of that side of the family still lives there throughout the state.  I’d been on the lookout for vintage library cards for anywhere there for a long time and finally got lucky.

As you know, Honolulu is the state capital and a very popular place to visit.  The State Library is downtown, next to the Iolani Palace and the State Legislature.

Then, circa 1930s

hawaii library

And now1280px-HawaiiStateLibrary

The library looks pretty similar today to the 1930s.  The palm trees right in front are gone, with other trees in front of the side windows and on the vintage card it looks like a walkway used to go up the center of the lawn, but otherwise it looks the same.

The library started humbly in 1879 and only men could check out the 5,000 books.  Supported by Andrew Carnegie, the current library was built in 1913.  Other funding and books were donated by King David Kalakaua and his wife, Queen Kapiolani; Queen Emma; and Princess Pauahi. The library has four floors and the outside has 20-foot columns and 18-foot arches (http://www.aloha-hawaii.com/oahu/hawaii-state-library/).

Today, it is the main library of the Hawaii State Public Library System and has a collection of over 500,000 books and more in “supporting materials”In 2012, it lent over 414,000 items, served nearly 350,000 patrons in-house, answered nearly 70,000 reference questions, and held just over 100 programs with about 3,900 attendees.

It has many of the typical departments, such a children’s section and an art, music, and recreation section with books, sheet music, pictures, and more. There is also a federal documents section providing free access to federal records, and a Hawaii and Pacific section with information specific to Hawaii, the South Pacific, New Zealand, and Australia, with items on Hawaiian legends, school yearbooks, and more.

The library is open Monday through Saturday.  I was somewhat surprised to see that the website includes Hawaiian words to describe its services (like how one section is on the mauka side, meaning toward the mountains), but also really like that pieces of the Hawaiian language permeate the entire culture, even on websites for state services.

I’ve been to Hawaii many times, but never visited the library and I will definitely try to the next time I go!

Currently reading: Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero

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