It’s been decades in the making, and now the Aiea community is about to get a new public library.
It began with a vision more than 20 years ago to turn the property where the old Aiea sugar mill used to be into the future site of a new library and gathering place.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held in March 2013, and the new library, at the corner of Aiea Heights Dr. and Ulune St., is scheduled to open next month. A grand opening ceremony is set for Saturday, July 19, at 10 a.m. The library will officially open after the ceremony.
Aiea Public Library was built back in 1964, when John Burns was Governor, C&H was still running a sugar refinery up the road, and Aiea didn’t have as many homes as it does today. But soon, Aiea Library on Moanalua Rd. will be a thing of the past.
“The old library will be closing this Friday in preparation of getting the new library ready,” Special Assistant to the State Librarian Keith Fujio said.
The new Aiea Library is located up the street from the old one on former sugar mill property. From the outside, it looks like it’s finished. But on the inside, it’s still pretty empty. They plan to move over the books over the next few weeks.
“We’re going to have a final inspection in another week or so,” Fujio said.
“(We’ve) been waiting for a long time, see them construct over a year ago, and can’t wait till the grand opening. We’re going to be here to celebrate the grand opening too,” Aiea resident Amy Regala said.
Aiea resident Claire Tamamoto has long been pushing for a new library at the old sugar mill site.
“I’m excited and really happy and when people ask me to talk about it I usually really get choked up,” Tamamoto said.
The new library is almost twice the size of the old one at 17,200 square feet, and will have almost twice as many books, plus DVDs and CDs, along with free wi-fi, and 12 public internet computers — more than before, plus a lot more parking.
The state paid $10.4 million for the planning, design, and construction of the new Aiea Library.
When asked whether she thinks the state needs another Library, Tamamoto replied, “I think so. The library represents a public place where anyone can go, but it also serves as a gathering place where the young and old can go and interact.”
“I think they’re going to try to expand it to six (days a week of operation),” Fujio said. “We’re going to have to ask for more staffing and money with the legislature again but that’s the goal.”
“I like some books and I like the air conditioner,” said five-year-old Aiea resident William Regala.
“I’m really excited because it’ll be easier for me to find resources for my projects at school and it’s right next to my house so I can just walk down,” said 12-year-old Tiffany Tanaka of Aiea.
The new library was designed by CDS International and is reminiscent of the old sugar mill with simple, tall gabled roofs, and exposed structures, mechanical and air-conditioning duct work within the interior space. It includes shelving to accommodate up to 78,000 books and 8,000 DVDs and CDs; free wireless Internet access with a valid HSPLS library card; 12 public Internet computers, two public access computers (electronic card catalogs); a large program room for library events, community meetings and activities; and more parking stalls for library patrons.
The Aiea Neighborhood Board is scheduled to meet at the old library next Monday, several days after it closes. Chair Bill Clark says he got permission to hold their meeting there one last time.