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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, November 5, 2006

Petition: preserve medical library

By Treena Shapiro
Advertiser Government Writer


  • The library was designed in 1959 by architect Vladimir Ossipoff.

  • On The Queen's Medical Center campus, the library houses the Mamiya Medical Heritage Collection, home to the library's archives, medical museum and special collections.

  • The collections include books, photographs, medical instruments, organizational records and personal papers concerning the history of medicine in Hawai'i.

  • For more information, visit www.hml.org.

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    The Association of Hawai'i Archivists has raised concerns about the future of the Hawai'i Medical Library as The Queen's Medical Center considers sites for a new parking lot.

    Although the library may be a possible site, spokeswoman Rebecca Pollard said yesterday, "Basically, Queen's has no formal plans to raze the building."

    The hospital is considering ways to add another parking lot, however. "We definitely have a severe parking shortage on the campus, and we're considering a number of options to provide the highest quality care to our patients and visitors to the hospital," she said.

    If the library site is selected, the archivists worry about what will happen to the volumes within the Mamiya Medical Heritage Center. The letter signed by the association's board members said: "The situation very likely will result in the dispersal of the collections, therefore limiting accessibility to the collections."

    To guard against that, the board is circulating a petition and asking for support for a resolution fighting the demolition.

    Pollard said she wants to make sure the public knows that Queen's values the collections in the library.

    "If Queen's decides to make any significant structural changes to the Hawai'i Medical Library, we would make every effort to preserve the Mamiya Medical Heritage Center collections," she said.

    Judith Kearney, a librarian at the Mission Houses Museum and the Association of Hawai'i Archivists' newsletter editor, said that the archivists are concerned about the building, as well as the collections inside.

    "There is nothing like it in the state," she said, noting that it is one of just a couple of state libraries designed by Vladimir Ossipoff, the "dean of Hawai'i architects."

    The association has had some support for retaining the building from architects and historical preservationists, some of whom have come to photograph the building.

    "In 40 years, do you want to be looking at a parking lot, or do you want to look at a building that's eligible for historic registries?" Kearney asked.

    As the only medical archives in the state, the library holds the Hawai'i Medical Association and the Honolulu County Medical Society papers, unique documents and photographs of 19th and 20th century medical instruments and rare books related to the history of medicine, which it has accepted from numerous donors.

    The association believes the library has an obligation to keep the collections together and make the archives accessible to researchers, rather than return materials to donors or give them to different libraries.

    "It would be a real shame for them to break that up and tear down the building," Kearney said. "There's a lot of emotion out there about it, but we think it's justified, and we think it's a legitimate concern."

    For more information about the Association of Hawai'i Archivists, visit www2.hawaii.edu /~wertheim/AHA.html.

    Reach Treena Shapiro at tshapiro@honoluluadvertiser.com.