Hawaii State Librarian Announces Retirement

State Librarian Richard Burns (Photo by Mel Ah Ching)
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State Librarian Richard Burns (Photo by Mel Ah Ching)
State Librarian Richard Burns (Photo by Mel Ah Ching)

REPORT FROM THE DOE – HONOLULU – Richard Burns, who has served with distinction as the State Librarian of the Hawaii State Public Library System since January 2008, has informed the Board of Education of his retirement at the end of the year, completing more than 30 years of dedicated service, the last seven as Hawaii’s State Librarian.

Working through a severe economic downturn that resulted in limited resources, hiring freezes and furlough days, the Hawaii State Public Library System (HSPLS) achieved many notable milestones over the past six and half years. Under Burns’ leadership, HSPLS expanded public service days and hours, improved and enlarged collections, increased the number of free public programs and services, further developed traditional and print collections while moving forward
into the wireless, e-book and digital arenas, and heightened the value the library system provides for users across the state. HSPLS has laid the foundation for future development and success, and is well-positioned to provide patrons with the resources they will need to achieve academically, build their futures in the world of technology, prepare themselves for employment in the modern workplace and lead engaged, fulfilling lives.


In recent years, HSPLS has increased access, collections, programs and services, and has upgraded and improved its public access technology resources, including:

• Partnering with the University of Hawaii and the State Department of Education during 2010-2013 to complete two federal Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) grants totaling $36 million, providing free wireless Internet access in all 50 public libraries statewide; new public access computers, including 54 ADA accessible workstations with assistive software; new hardware and software; and high-speed fiber optic connectivity for public libraries, public schools and community college campuses;

• Leveraged a $823,000 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Opportunity Online hardware grant with the BTOP grant to install more than 780 new public access computers and workstations;

• Partnered with Microsoft to become the only statewide public library system in the world to offer all our patrons free access to the Microsoft IT Academy and Digital Literacy Program which provides online digital literacy and advanced technology training;

• Public Internet sessions increased by 11% in 2013, with 669,000 sessions, and HSPLS’ free wireless Internet sessions in all 50 public libraries totaled an impressive 187,342 sessions.
• Through the HSPLS’ Mobile Netbook program, patrons can now borrow a netbook loaded with Microsoft Office 2010 software and mobile Internet connectivity for a 3- week loan period at 37 branches
• E-book and audiobook collections now include more than 40,000 licensed items; check outs increased by 43% from 153,241 circulations in 2012 to 219,449 in 2013
• Free access to nearly 150 full-color of E-magazine titles through Zinio
• Gale Courses (formerly Learn4Life) provides free instructor-led, lifelong e-learning courses ranging from personal finance to digital photography to starting a business
• HSPLS’ subscriptions to PowerSpeak and Mango Languages e-learning online courses make learning a foreign language online easy, convenient and free through. Patrons may select from variety of Pacific (including Hawaiian), Asian, European, Latin and Middle Eastern languages.
• Patrons have access to more than 80 online databases
• Email notification that averages 175,000 emails annually, saving approximately $51,000 in postage in 2013
• HSPLS has its own Mobile App through ChiliFresh, and a social media presence using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram HSPLS’ significant technology implementations, upgrades and enhancements led directly to the Library System earning the State of Hawaii’s first Excellence in Technology Award in October 2012, and a State Technology Modernization Award from the Office of Information Management and Technology in 2013 for implementing a computer training program and rollout of the HSPLS Mobile Netbook Loan Program in 37 branches. HSPLS’ noteworthy facility accomplishments focused on building new energy efficient libraries outfitted with environmentally friendly technologies:

• Grand Openings of the North Kohala Public Library (2010), the Manoa Public Library (2012), and the upcoming Aiea Public Library (in July 2014). Both the North Kohala and Manoa Public Libraries earned the coveted Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification. Ground breaking for a new Nanakuli Public Library, the 51st branch in HSPLS, is anticipated before the end of 2014, and a minimum LEED Silver Certification will be pursued for this facility.

• Many HSPLS libraries were retrofitted with environmentally conscious technologies such as photovoltaics, wind turbines, energy efficient lighting, window tinting, and water catchment to reduce energy costs HSPLS Increased Patron Services and Programs

• Over the past two years, Kaimuki, Kalihi-Palama, Manoa, Pahala, Waipahu, Wahiawa, and Salt Lake-Moanalua Public Libraries have adjusted or increased their public service hours to offer more evening and weekend hours

• The Summer Reading Programs saw record growth; between 2009 and 2012, participation in the SRP grew by 41 %. In 2013, 29,000 readers of all ages collectively read over 305,000 books in five weeks. In response to patron demand, the on-going 2014 Summer Reading Programs have been expanded to six weeks and are focused on all things Science and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math). The Summer Reading Programs are fully funded through the Friends of the Library of Hawaii and the 2014 Summer Reading corporate and non-profit sponsors.

• In FY 13, HSPLS conducted 9,591 programs, visits and outreach with a total attendance 273,516