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Library to Get More Space

Rendering of proposed Molokai Public Library addition, courtesy of Hawaii DAGS.

A growing collection of books and programs at the Molokai Public Library is causing its historic building to burst at the seams. If a proposed expansion is approved, the library would get some much-needed additional space. The proposal includes a new, stand-alone 1,875 square foot building behind the existing facility that would cost over $3 million, funded by the state Department of Accounting and General Services (DAGS).

The new building will be connect to the back of the existing staff room by a breezeway. The facility will provide a meeting room, workroom for staff, and two restrooms additional space for books, as well as.

“The population is growing, and so is our collection, plus we have all this new equipment and gadgets,” said Molokai Public Library Branch Manager Sri TenCate, who has worked there more than three decades. “So every time we have a program… we have to move away the furniture, some of the bookshelves, so accommodate people that come to the programs, which is a hardship for the staff… so it is a big need to have a separate meeting room for programs and community events.”

The library, built in 1937, just celebrated its 80th anniversary last year. The building is on the Hawaii Register of Historic Places, and Mark Roy of the consulting firm Munekiyo Hiraga said the new building will not affect its status.

Frances Feeter, member of the Friends of the Molokai Public Library, said it was in 2006 that TenCate and Friends of the Library contacted the state saying, “we need more room.”

“If you’ve ever been to a program in the library, you probably realize we need the extra space, the staff needs room to work, they are cramped in a very small space, we need room for a children’s library, we need room for for storage…” she said.

The library’s frequently offered programs bring musical, cultural and artist education and opportunities to the Molokai community.

Feeter also hoped the new library space could become a tribute to TenCate’s dedicated service.

“This would be such a wonderful thing to give Sri,” she said. “You probably know she’s going to retire, and I don’t know how we can replace her. But I think the crowning achievement will be this addition that she’s worked on for so long.”

Tonia Moy, project architect with Fung Associates, said the addition’s design will be similar and complimentary to that of the original building. Sliding doors can also open up to a small courtyard for additional usable outdoor space.

Moy said one palm tree will need to be removed from the side of the existing building, as well as one kou tree from the back, and additional landscaping will be part of the project.

The existing carport in the back for a mobile library vehicle will also be rebuilt to relocate the structure and provide more square footage to the new library building. The new carport will be approximately 700 square foot and offer additional storage, according to the project plans.

The project’s Environmental Assessment (EA) is currently open to public comment until April 9. The EA shows no adverse impacts to the environment, public services, water or drainage, according to Roy.

The project came before the Molokai Planning Commission last week for their comments on the EA. Commissioners voiced their support for the addition, and offered some suggestions. The project will again come before the Molokai Planning Commission later in the process for a Special Management Area permit before construction, said Roy.

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