It's a new chapter in Aiea with a brand-new, bigger library breaking ground Saturday. Its location is also bringing new life to a beloved site in the community's history.
While the hexagon-shaped Aiea Public Library has served library patrons for 50 years, the community had outgrown it. So the groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday was a moment community members had long been waiting for.
“I’m really, really excited,” said Claire Tamamoto, a member of the Aiea Community Association.
Tamamoto is just one of many who were on hand to celebrate the start of what will be a 17, 200-square-foot, 21st-century library -- nearly double in size of the old one. And where it's going up is significant.
“The sugar mill was an icon in this community. You could give directions by the sugar mill,” said Tamamoto.
Once the site of the C&H Sugar refinery, the town's sugar history came to an end in 1998 when the 99-year-old mill was torn down. The community was devastated when they leveled the old sugar mill. But the architect said he kept that old historic building in mind when he designed the new library.
“It’s going to have high cathedral ceilings, we’re also going to have an exposed interior, a factory-like interior,” said CDS International architect Glenn Miura.
The library will also be environmentally friendly with 6,000 square feet of photovoltaic solar panels and energy-efficiency air conditioning. The plan is to have the facility become the focal point of the community -- a need that still exists despite our dependence on technology.
“The Pew Research Institute conducted a national survey and 80 percent of respondents said borrowing library books was very important to them in this age of computers, the Internet and e-books,” said state librarian Richard Burns.
“Additionally, 80 percent said that library staff was important to them and 91 percent of them said that the public library was important to their community.”
When the new library is completed next year, it will have room for 78,000 books, 8,000 DVDs and CDs. The state appropriated a total of $11.5 million for the new library.
The original Aiea Library will remain open while the new one is being built. The building will then likely be used for library administrative office space.