By Karise Hallsten and Vanessa Rivera
For many UH Maui College students, the library is an unused or underutilized resource. Not only does it have two stories full of books, it also has a collection of over 100,000 ebooks available online. Other features include computers, Internet access, group study rooms, newspapers and magazines, photocopiers, face-to-face research assistance, comfortable lounge study areas, DVDs and audio CDs to rent, and the only designated quiet study areas on campus.
Among the dedicated staff at the library is librarian Ellen Peterson, who has been working at the library for almost 10 years and is still passionate about her job. “I love research, it feels kind of like being a private investigator—sleuthing around for clues to help solve a problem,” she said. “On any given day at the reference desk, I may have the opportunity to research the effect of Westernization on Hawai‘i, electric cars, symptoms of mental disorders, pit bull terriers and the environmental impact of plastic water bottles. I think that’s the coolest thing about my job.”
One of the future plans for the library is to redesign their website and digital library. According to Peterson, students are becoming more inclined to choose ebooks over physical books. One main reason she believes this to be the case is because they are accessible from anywhere, even outside the library. “You can also do cool things with them like highlight paragraphs or add stick-notes to them electronically, save them to your own bookshelf online, and download them to a mobile device,” she said.
Unfortunately, funding is a constant struggle as there are not many grants available to libraries and those that are available tend to be extremely limiting and time-consuming—something they simply don’t have the manpower for. “We are often unable to buy the materials that students need for their classes or hire staff to keep the library open more hours,” Peterson explained. “We don’t have the staff to work on applying for grants, so we strive to provide the best library services and materials from money allotted to us from the campus budget.”
In addition to its standard services and features, the library also hosts student art exhibits every semester. Displays have included oil paintings, ceramics, paper maché, dresses designed by UHMC’s fashion department and much more.
During the fall and spring semesters, the library is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays; and it is closed on Saturdays, Sundays and all state holidays. Visit www.maui.hawaii.edu/library for additional information.