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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted at 11:58 a.m., Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Kihei librarian wins top award of the year

The Maui News

KIHEI — Kihei Youth Services Librarian Kathleen Ageton has been chosen as the 2007 Hawaii Public Librarian of the Year, The Maui News reported.

Kihei Library Branch Manager Janet Fehr said she admires Ageton for her work with children, teenagers and young adults. "She relates to all of them so well," Fehr said.

Adult patrons easily outnumber youngsters at the Kihei library, but the numbers of young people have been growing over the last six years thanks to programs that Ageton has been creating and implementing.

Before Ageton's official hiring in 2001, Kihei library offered a story hour for toddlers and their caregivers. Today, the library has more programs for youngsters, including "Pajama Storytime" for preschoolers, a Young Volunteers Club for children 8 and older, and a First Fridays Teen Literature Group.

Teenagers, according to Fehr, are the "absolute hardest" group of patrons to draw to the library. "The fact that she can bring in three, let alone 13 into the teen group is miraculous," Fehr said.

Ageton, a single mother to 4-and-a-half-year-old John, said she's always loved reading and enjoys working with young people. As a youth services librarian she says her goal "is to make a connection between children and literature."

Ageton estimates that her programs for toddlers through young adults bring approximately 80 to 100 people each week into the Kihei library.

Fehr said it's important to introduce books and the library to children.

"It helps people to become lifelong learners and users of the library," she said.

With Ageton, Fehr said Kihei library becomes not only a place to read, but a place to have fun.

"We still value the quietness of a library," she said. "But we always hear laughter, and we're really a lot more fun for young people, thanks to Kathleen."

Ageton is a 1980 graduate of Maui High School. The 45-year-old Waikapu resident holds a bachelor's degree in English, a professional diploma in elementary education and a master's in library and information science, all earned at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

She has been working for libraries since she was a teenager.

"I am so grateful to do something I truly love," Ageton said.

Sponsored by the Friends of the Library of Hawaii, the Public Librarian of the Year program has for 11 years recognized excellence in the Hawaii State Public Library System.

The winner of the librarian of the year must have at least four years of service and have earned a master's in library science or branch manager status.

Criteria for the award cover an individual's dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to the job, community service, and promotion of public libraries in the community.

In 2006, both Ageton and Fehr were chosen as finalists for librarian of the year.

Earlier this year, Ageton was selected for the Sustained Superior Performance Award, which is seen as a runner-up slot to Employee of the Year.

Ageton was nominated by an unnamed patron for the 2007 Hawaii Librarian of the Year.

"It's very exciting," she said. "I can't tell you how honored I am to receive this award, and yet I know there are a lot of other people deserving of the honor."

An awards presentation will be held Thursday on Oahu. Borders Books Movies Music & Cafe, the corporate sponsor for the Public Librarian of the Year program, will present a cash award of $1,000 to the Kihei Public Library. The Friends of the Library of Hawaii will also present a check for $500 to the Kihei Public Library in honor of Ageton's selection.

Ageton said she hopes to use some of the award money to beef up her library's audio book collection for children and young adults.

For more Maui news, visit The Maui News.