Richard Burns, who has served with distinction as the state librarian for the Hawaii State Public Library System since January 2008, recently informed the state Board of Education about his retirement at the end of the year, completing more than 30 years of dedicated service.
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 during 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 increased access, collections, programs and services, and upgraded and improved its public access technology resources.
HSPLS’ significant technology implementations, upgrades and enhancements led to the library system earning the state’s first Excellence in Technology Award in 2012, and a State Technology Modernization Award from the Office of Information Management and Technology in 2013.
HSPLS’ noteworthy facility accomplishments focused on building new libraries outfitted with environmentally friendly technologies. Grand openings of new facilities include the North Kohala Public Library (2010), the Manoa Public Library (2012), and the Aiea Public Library (this month).
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 this year, 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. The Summer Reading Programs saw record growth; between 2009-12, participation grew by 41 percent.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to have served as state librarian during this extraordinary time when public libraries have been transformed by technological advancements and resources,” Burns said. “I am extremely proud of all that our staff has been able to accomplish over the past several years in terms of increased public service hours and days; dramatically improved and increased collections, both electronic and print; an entirely rebuilt technology infrastructure; and providing greater value than ever before for the people of Hawaii.”