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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, February 13, 2006

Effort afoot to build a better library for Windward College

By Eloise Aguiar
Advertiser Windward O'ahu Writer

Ignacio Fleishour, a Windward Community College student, argued for a new library for the campus last week before the House's Higher Education Committee. Some say the library is rundown and cramped.

DEBORAH BOOKER | The Honolulu Advertiser

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HB3188: $1.154 million for upgrades and modifications

HB3189: $425,616 for staff, security and repairs and maintenance

HB3190: $36.381 million for building to include library, learning center, computing services and media services

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KANE'OHE When Ignacio Fleishour decided to attend college about 16 years ago, he was a high school dropout working at Taco Bell to help support his family and living under a bridge in Hawai'i Kai.

The library at Kapi'olani Community College became his refuge, a place to study out of the rain and where he taught himself to use a computer.

Fleishour, now 34, testified last week before the state House Higher Education Committee about the need for an adequate library at Windward Community College.

The committee advanced three bills, which now go to the House Finance Committee.

The bills, introduced by Windward state Reps. Tommy Waters, Ken Ito and Pono Chong, call for a total of $38 million to build a new library, hire more staff at the school and make upgrades there, Waters said.

Waters, D-51st (Waimanalo, Lanikai), chairman of the House Higher Education Committee, said he's looking at a wish list for the entire university system of $100 million for programs, and repair and maintenance. He also said he wants an additional $120 million for construction.

Gov. Linda Lingle has submitted a budget of about $46 million for programs, repair and maintenance and $77 million for capital improvements for the UH system, Waters said.

"I'm going to fight for as big a piece of the surplus pie as I can get for higher education," he said.

Waters said he was impressed with the turnout at his committee hearing at the WCC library on Tuesday.

About 200 people showed up at the standing-room-only hearing, said Libby Young, WCC journalism instructor.

Jamie Walk, a 22-year-old Windward Community College student, said she hopes the college gets the money because its library is cramped, in disrepair and often overcrowded. Walk said it isn't unusual to find the library half-filled with a class of students learning how to use the library, and that she leaves because she feels it's rude to walk in front of the teacher or class.

"If I get there and there's not enough room, I just leave," Walk said.

Head librarian Nancy Heu said the library, a narrow, 8,000-square-foot building, was built in the 1930s for the adjacent Hawai'i State Hospital as a ward.

"It's cozy and charming and other people will say that translates into old and cramped," Heu said.

Reach Eloise Aguiar at eaguiar@honoluluadvertiser.com.