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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, March 5, 2003

Senator wants state librarian to resign

By Lynda Arakawa
Advertiser Capitol Bureau

State senators yesterday criticized state librarian Virginia Lowell, saying she is unresponsive to the community and does not follow legislative mandates.

State librarian Virginia Lowell was criticized by Gov. Linda Lingle Monday and yesterday.

Advertiser library photo

Sen. Bob Hogue, R-24th (Kailua, Kane'ohe), invited other senators to join him in calling for Lowell's resignation.

"She is arrogant, she is inflexible, she does not respond to community concerns and much of the time her efforts fly in the face of common sense," he said during floor discussion of a bill to appropriate $1 million for the Kapolei Public Library.

Lowell was on vacation out of state and unavailable for comment.

The Board of Education has the authority to hire and fire the state librarian.

The Senate voted 16-9 to appropriate $1 million in emergency money for the Kapolei library, with some of those opposed saying they have no confidence that Lowell will spend it wisely.

Their complaints followed Gov. Linda Lingle's criticisms of Lowell on Monday for failing to find a way to keep libraries open longer in the face of statewide budget cuts.

Under the administration's budget plan, the library system is slated to lose $500,000, or about 2.5 percent of its budget. In response, Lowell ordered all libraries to cut their hours back to five-day, 40-hour schedules.

Lingle criticized Lowell again yesterday, calling that move "indicative of an attitude that has existed for too long."

"She said ... our patrons' desires is not a determining factor in our hours," Lingle told a gathering of the National Federation of Independent Business-Hawai'i at the Pacific Club.

"Well, then, what is the determining factor? The convenience of your employees? ... Can you imagine in your business saying, 'Well, what our customers want is not a determining factor in my business'? How long would you stay in business with that kind of attitude?"

Sen. Kalani English, D-6th (E. Maui, Moloka'i, Lana'i), said Lowell has a pattern of ignoring legislative mandates. English said that after the Legislature approved a reallocation to the Makawao Public Library, Lowell said there would be no money for it unless Kapolei received money.

Advertiser staff writer Dan Nakaso contributed to this report.

Reach Lynda Arakawa at larakawa@honoluluadvertiser.com or at 525-8070.