Our public library is a bright spot in a poor rural community such as Pahoa. It should be a no-brainer that this most delightful of American institutions should be well-funded, supported, and thriving. At the February 25 talk-story session held at the Keaau Girl Scout Center, Senator Ruderman announced, “It is my understanding that Senator Tokuda is putting in a request to the DOE budget for a feasibility study for a new Pahoa Library. The study would cost $300, 000.” A new library tops the list of legislative priorities for the upcoming year. It would take five to seven years before Pahoa would see a new library.
The tiny library on the Pahoa High and Intermediate School campus is off-limits to its students and serves as a community library, instead.
For five years, our community library has failed to serve students.
Most parents don’t know that their children can’t access the library during school. Most students jump onto buses soon after the end of the school day. Checking out books, returning them on time, and all the other rituals inherent in library use go by the wayside if one does not step inside a library. This is part of growing up in a democratic society. Early respect for books means respect for writers, for scholarship itself. Being a habitual library user can help in all kinds of situations. Much the center of activity in a community, a library is a like a business, or the post office, except that it is free.
It would seem the solution to this five-year plus problem would be simple and straightforward. It is not. Instead, the needs of Pahoa students have conveniently been ignored—enormous amounts of funds are spent all in the name of standardized testing. Why not use some of that money to fund our library, allow students access, and therefore raise literacy by nurturing critical thinking.
Who should put the brakes on this blatant abuse? President Obama has shown concern for the disparity between rich and poor. Rural communities in Hawaii continue to be ignored, just as ground will be broken for the Obama Presidential Library on Oahu. Why is there no equivalent library resource here in Pahoa? Why shouldn’t this extend to our library and to our students?
More visitors have guest cards than do resident children. This seems unbalanced.
Perhaps with a resolution by Senator Ruderman this idea could be kept alive: everyone and especially Pahoa students really do need access to universal resources that our library system provides. Stay tuned for exciting updates.
Susan Kay Anderson and Virginia Brautigan Aste