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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, November 17, 2001

Librarians' sacrifice inspires Wai'anae book drive

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Leeward Writer

For several years, Leeward school librarians Carolyn Kirio, Sandy Yamamoto and Kathryn Rancayo had quietly been going to the annual McKinley High School Friends of the Library sale to buy hundreds of books for students at their schools.

Carolyn Kirio, librarian at Kapolei High, has for years bought "fun" books for students with her own money.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

Cynthia Rezentes, chairwoman of the Wai'anae Coast Neighborhood Board, was touched to discover what they were doing when she went to the book sale last summer.

"They told me they were buying books on their own for their schools," Rezentes said.

She related the incident to David Escalante, who heads the board's education committee, and together they came up with the idea for a book drive to help 10 Wai'anae Coast school libraries in need of books.

Today the board, with the help of numerous local volunteers and three tents donated by the Army, invites the community to donate books in good condition to Leeward schools. The tents will be at Wai'anae Mall, Ulehawa Beach Park No. 2 and across from Nanaikapono Elementary School in Nanakuli from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kirio was startled to learn that she and her colleagues had inspired a book drive. She admitted with a sheepish chuckle that she had not been aware of the effort.

"We're glad to have been an inspiration, though," said the librarian at Kapolei High School. "School libraries are looking to connect to the community. Our efforts are for getting students interested in reading and to appreciate literature, whether it's to find information or just for pleasure. We want people to be lifelong readers. That's our goal as librarians."

Kirio said she and her two colleagues decided to buy books for students because library budgets are frequently used up on necessary educational and research books. Too often they lack enough of what she calls pleasure books.

So the trio concentrated on books that would grab kids. Kirio estimates she has spent $2,000 of her own income on adventure, novel and fad books she figured might lure youngsters into reading. And if some of those books have walked away and not come back, "That's fine," she said.

"We know they're being read. That's the important thing."

Linda Victor, principal of Ma'ili Elementary School and a former school librarian, said most schools on the Wai'anae Coast have classroom programs that emphasize having students do more reading on their own.

"I think this drive is really a nice gesture and a wonderful way to get the community involved in sharing," said Victor. "It's also a nice way for students to get a variety of books."

Everything donated will be used, Rezentes said. School librarians in the area will get first choice on any books they deem appropriate for school kids. All remaining volumes will go to the Friends of the Wai'anae Library, to be placed on the shelves or sold.

"Basically what we are looking for is books appropriate for kindergarten through Grade 12 students," Escalante said. "We want books that are not moldy, torn or damaged. Our intent is to collect all the books, let the librarians pick what they need, and the rest will go to the public library."

He said anyone who would like to donate but cannot make it to the drop-off sites is are welcome to leave their address on his answering message at 695-0257, and he will arrange for a pickup.

"We may not get them on Saturday, but we'll get them," he said, "because we think this is an important thing."

Added Rezentes, "This is the first time we've done this. If it works out, maybe we'll do it again."

Meanwhile, Kirio says she, along with Wa'ianae High librarian Tancayo and former Wai'anae High librarian Yamamoto, who is now at Pearl City High School, plan to continue buying books that kids love to read.

"You can never have too much Harry Potter," she said.

Reach Will Hoover at whoover@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8038.