Staff and volunteers at Thelma Parker Memorial Library in Waimea pose for a photo on Oct. 5. From left is Juanette Cordeiro, Betty Wong, Eva Martinson, Jo Ann Koga, Carol Buck and Pam Akao. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)
Juanette Cordeiro helps a library patron check out books. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)
Two students use the Thelma Parker Library computer. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)
Eva Martinson, Thelma Parker Memorial Library substitute librarian and activity coordinator, works with a student during the library’s after school program. (PHOTO BY LISA M. DAHM| NHN)
According to the employees and volunteers of Thelma Parker Memorial Library, their 35th anniversary this month is a milestone that the whole community should be proud to celebrate.
Named in honor of Thelma Parker, a Parker Ranch heir and Richard Smart’s mother, the building is not only the town’s public library, but it also serves as the Waimea Elementary and Middle school library.
“It seems that we are sort of a meeting place,” said head librarian Pam Akao. “It is nice – we can pull in the kids and the teenagers, and the adults, too.”
Akao said she believes a library should be a comfortable location that brings people together,and gives them a place to learn and grow.
“A library answers the call – we are answering the call,” Akao said.
She said that at the Thelma Parker Memorial Library, there are about 100,000 books and materials that are circulated through the library per year, with about 13,000 patrons who hold cards at the library. There are four full time workers who include Akao, library assistants Jo Ann Koga and Juanette Cordeiro, substitute librarian Eva Martinson and Bobby Mandoliniz, janitor.
Library assistant Jo Ann Koga has been working at the library for 28 years. She said she would not have chosen any other place to work.
“I love it because we are not a really big library so we get to do everything, not just what’s in our job description,” Koga said.
“That is why I stay so long,” she said. “I just love coming to work here. I told my children, ‘You have to love your job because you are going to go there every day.’ The years slip by.”
Throughout the year, students can participate in after school programs at the library, summer reading programs, movie days, keiki story hour, Halloween events, Easter egg hunts, special guest speakers and much more.
“My goal is to educate the younger ones,” Akao said. “I want them to feel like they have a place where they feel safe — where they can come to read books or just hang out.”
Akao said a major component of the library is the volunteers who donate their time to the library.
“Thank God for our volunteers,” she said.
Carol Buck is the director of volunteers, and has been serving at the library for more than 15 years. She said each week, there are from 12 to 20 volunteers that help in the library, and she oversees a total number of about 100 volunteers that help throughout the year. She said it takes about four months to train a volunteer so they can learn how to shelf, mend items, process books and other tasks.
“We do everything that the staff doesn’t have time to do,” Buck said. “That gets them out and helping patrons more.”
Buck said an important time in the library is Count Week, which will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 22 through Oct. 26, the actual anniversary of the library. She said there are about 50 volunteers that are needed to help count used materials, the number of people who walk into the library, and other relevant statistics. Funding for the library depends heavily on count week, so she encourages patrons to make a visit to the library during Count Week in support.
The Friends of the Library is also an important component of the library, and through donations they have generated, they have purchased everything from books, CDs and DVDs, to furniture, supplies, magazines, upholstery of furniture in the children’s section and even the new “Open” sign in the window.
“It is fun and definitely worth it,” said Buck, who is also a member of the Friends of the Thelma Parker Library.
Akao said that despite new digital readers, people still love going to the library and spending time there. She said that through the years, she had gotten to know many of the families and has seen patrons meet, become boyfriend and girlfriend, marry and have families of their own.
“Families come, and families grow – now they are in college,” Akao said. “You start to lose them, then they come back as mothers and fathers and bring in their small kids.”
For more information, visit the library at 67-1209 Mamalahoa Hwy. or call 887-6067.