We Tried It: Book Takeout at the Hawaiʻi State Public Library

Browsing is a little more difficult but finding the reads you want has never been easier.


My trips to the library often involved a princess tagging along. Photo: Christi Young

Going to the library used to be a treasured monthly excursion for my kids and me. We loved wandering in between shelves to discover new stories to take home and would often go on “adventures” out of our neighborhood to explore other branches.


The pandemic ended that all in March. Book pickup options brought some of that excitement back.


The Hawaiʻi State Public Library System began allowing card holders to reserve and pickup books at the end of May. Now, you can also pay your fines (whoops!) and renew or apply for cards. I have done it a few times to get new reads for my 4- and 10-year-olds. Here is how it works.


Photo: Christi Young

Go to the library’s website, librarieshawaii.org, and sign into your account. If you haven’t done so before, you will need your library card number and the last four digits of the phone number associated with it. Click on the catalog, search for books available around the state and place them on hold at your chosen branch. When they arrive, make a reservation for a specific time to pick them up.


Photo: Christi Young

Beyond that, here are our six tips

1. Do some research before you log on. One big benefit of the new system is that the search means you can find exactly the books you are looking for quickly, instead of going to the shelf and finding it missing. One disadvantage is that without the displays of new titles and librarian recommendations, you will only find exactly the books you are looking for. I used to depend on pamphlets and recommendation displays for suggestions. Now, I find it useful to talk with friends (one who is a reading specialist for elementary school students is extremely helpful), look for online reviews and search for new series by favorite authors before I log on to the library’s website. We have a series of pieces with picks by kid reviewers and one of the state’s youth librarians. See some of our Good Reads here.

Photo: Christi Young

2. Be flexible and strategic with your pickup dates. It’s great that you can request books from the Big Island or Kauaʻi, but travel times vary. If any are already checked out, you will have to wait even longer. I’ve requested six books during one session that all arrived on different days over two weeks. You do need to schedule a pickup time online, so be prepared to do it more than once.

3. Download the app. Once they’re ready, you have a week to get your books. Miss the deadline and you will be charged $1 for each. The library mails you notifications, but it takes a few days to arrive to your mailbox. I found checking the status on my app—which is available for iPhone and through Google Play—was easier and helped me avoid fines. You can also renew books and check for ones you may have that are overdue. If your kids have their own cards, they will have to log on separately to see their own account.

4. Remind your child to bring that library card. You will need it to get your books.

5. Sign up for the Summer Reading Program. It’s all online and continues through Aug. 31. Readers could win Alaska Airlines tickets.

6. Remember, DVDs cost $1. So bring cash.