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The Hawaiʻi State Library is a historic building in Honolulu, Hawaii that serves as the seat of the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System, the only statewide library system and one of the largest in the United States. The Hawaiʻi State Library building is located in downtown Honolulu adjacent to ʻIolani Palace and the Hawaiʻi State Capitol. Originally funded by Andrew Carnegie, the building was designed by architect Henry D. Whitfield. Groundbreaking took place in 1911 and construction was completed in 1913. In 1978, the building was added to the National Register of Historic Places, as a contributing property within the Hawaii Capital Historic District.[1]

Hawaii State Library
Front facade
Location478 S. King St., Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
ArchitectHenry D. Whitfield
Part ofHawaii Capital Historic District
NRHP reference #78001020
Added to NRHP12/01/1978

The building holds over 525,000 cataloged books. The entire Hawaiʻi State Public Library System has a collection of over 3 million books. Nearby is the Hawaiʻi State Archives which holds book collections of historical significance to Hawaiʻi. The Edna Allyn Children's Room houses murals by artist Juliette May Fraser depicting Hawaiian legends while the garden courtyard features a mosaic of ocean currents by Hiroki Morinoue. Barbara Hepworth's cast bronze sculptures called Parent I and Young Girl greet visitors at the lawn in front of the building.



Before the Hawaiʻi State Library was constructed, library facilities were provided by the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association founded in 1879 by the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Prior to this, the site was the location of Hāliʻimaile, the residence of Boki and Liliha and later Victoria Kamāmalu and her father and brothers before they ascended Kamehameha IV and Kamehameha V.[2]

The Hawaiʻi State Library was funded by a grant from Andrew Carnegie. The Library met the government-related requirements for the grant with the cooperation of Walter F. Frear. Edna Allyn was the head librarian when it opened in 1913.[3]

In 1921, the County Library Law established separate libraries on the islands of Kauaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi, under minimal supervision by the Library of Hawaii, which restricted its services to Oʻahu. Even so, the latter quickly outgrew its quarters. In 1927, the Territorial legislature approved funding to expand and renovate the building. Construction was completed in 1930. Architect C.W. Dickey tripled its size by new wings to create an open-air courtyard in the center.[4]

After statehood in 1959, the Hawaii State Legislature created the Hawaii State Public Library System, the only statewide system in the United States, with the Hawaii State Library building as its flagship branch. In 1990, it funded a second major renovation and expansion, which was completed in 1992. The renovations addressed air-conditioning, roofing, asbestos removal, plumbing, better access for the handicapped, and landscaping, while the expansion added a large wing to the rear of the building that blended well with the older wings.[4]



  1. ^ "National and State Register of Historic Places" (PDF). State Historic Preservation Division. Retrieved 2009-04-30.
  2. ^ Mary Kawena Pukui, Samuel H. Elbert, Esther T. Mookini (1974). Place Names of Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. p. 39. ISBN 0-8248-0524-0.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Tachihata, Chieko (1981). The history and development of Hawaii public libraries: the libraries of Hawaii and Hawaii State Library, 1913-1971 (PhD). University of Southern California.
  4. ^ a b "Hawaii & Pacific Section: History of the Hawaii State Library". Retrieved 2010-05-15.

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