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Nānākuli’s First Public Library is (Finally) Opening This Weekend

The long-awaited library plans programs for keiki to kūpuna.


Nanakuli Public Library

Photos: Courtesy of Glenn Miura of CDS International 


After watching months of construction along a well-traveled stretch of Farrington Highway, members of the Leeward Coast community will get their first look inside the first public library in Nānākuli on Saturday.


After decades of waiting, the Nānākuli community will celebrate the opening of the state’s 51st public library this weekend with musical performances, speeches and even a color guard made up of students from nearby schools.


The $15.5 million facility was built with a Hawaiian-village theme on a 3-acre site fronting Nānāikapono Elementary School. It is the first library to have signs in both Hawaiian and English and a Lumi ‘Aukiō, a recording-studio sound booth, so people can record oral histories, and a grassy area for outdoor performances.  


Neighborhood board chair Cynthia Rezentes says the community requested the sound booth feature: “We’re losing so much information with the passing of the kupuna.”


“It’s going to be a place where people can go and research,” as well as check out books, meet others and use computers, says Neighborhood Board vice chair Richard Medeiros. “Kupuna can go to see stories and tell stories.”


West Side traffic is notoriously bad, especially during peak commuter time, which makes the library even more valuable as a resource that’s easy to reach, Medeiros says.


How long has the wait been? When he was in elementary school at Nānāikapono, Medeiros remembers writing a letter to then-Gov. John Waihe‘e  asking for a library: “I was in second grade in 1991.”


Nanakuli Public Library


Medeiros says the library will thrive as a community center for young and old because people will be drawn to the resources available there.


He says government seems to overlook resources such as libraries and the arts while access to information and culture is more important than ever. “It really helps a community thrive to have access like this. Not everybody has a computer, not everybody gets a newspaper,” Medeiros says.


Grand opening festivities for the new Nānākuli Public Library will begin at 9:30 a.m. with music then speeches by Gov. David Ige and state librarian Stacey Aldrich. Musical guests include Louis “Moon” Kauakahi, Eric Lee, Glen Smith, Horace Dudoit, and the Hoaloha Singers. Nānākuli High and Intermediate School is sending its color guard.


Designed by architect Glenn Miura of CDS International, built by Watts Constructors LLC, the library will serve the Nānākuli and Mā‘ili communities, including Nānāikapono Elementary and two other nearby schools.


Miura and his team also designed the new ‘Aiea Public Library, which opened in 2014.


Library hours will be: Mondays, 1–8 p.m., Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Thursdays, 1–8 p.m, Fridays and Saturdays, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Free parking in the 50-stall lot.


Nanakuli Public Library


Other details include:

  • The library received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Silver certification

  • Design features include large windows and skylights to maximize the use of daylight throughout the library. That reduces electricity costs for lighting; and takes advantage of natural ventilation in the large multipurpose program room

  • Room for up to 35,000 books and 3,000 DVDs and CDs

  • 32 computers available for public use as well as for locating library resources

  • Free wireless internet access with a valid Hawai‘i State Public Library System card

  • Free parking, 50 stalls, two handicap accessible


Nānākuli Public Library, 89-070 Farrington Highway, (808) 668-5844 or (808) 668-5845. The library has not yet been added to the Hawai‘i State Public Library System’s website, but it will be eventually at librarieshawaii.org




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Honolulu Magazine April 2018
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