Has your household bunkered down for the holidays, trying to avoid the scary “second wave” of COVID-19 from the mainland, but feeling at a loss for something to do together? We at The Hawai‘i Herald know your kids-on-winter-break or elderly relatives in your property’s ‘ohana unit (or your family member or close friend in an assisted-living facility) are bored out of their minds while feeling stuck inside. So this is our second holiday-season installment offering virtual resources that can help you spend time together with loved ones, while holding to social-distancing, mask-wearing and other public-health protocols.

The Hawaii State Public Library System has both physical and virtual resources which, accessed mindfully, can help in engaging your family mentally and emotionally, keeping close in this time when we have to find new ways to create intimate memories with those we care about, to be steady when so much is going on all around.

First, did you know that the HSPLS is not just about physical books? You might have already put your library card towards the system’s FREE eBook access — with Overdrive providing more than 54,000 e-volumes and 14,800 audio-books for HSPLS users! Have you found surprising app-based resources such as the HSPLS’s Koyobo Korean eBooks collection ( for your husbands homesick eomonim (mother) from Seoul? Or perhaps you have been enjoying the awesome ability to pore through pages of e-newspapers (over 6,000 via PressReader) and e-magazines (over 108 via RBDigital — including Car & Driver, Apple magazine, The Atlantic, Billboard and more recipe and beading publications than you can devour in a lifetime). The digital era has literally brought the world to your device.

These downloadable items could easily help your elderly relative or dear friend pass time reading the days away, in their part of your house or their care facility, no doubt. But if you read these items together with that older person, joining one of the HSPLS’s virtual book clubs headquartered at individual library branches (, that could be a meaningful, if (perhaps) socially distanced, two-generation activity.

In addition to these e-items, our public libraries also house unusual physical things which you or a cautious family member can visit the local branch to look at or borrow (of course, following coronavirus safety protocols), possibly to bring home, to copy or to share virtually with family members.

“Other Materials” of the HSPLS (“We’re so much more than just books!”) refer to these unusual collections, scattered across different library branches: Hawaiian sheet music, songs, Hawaiian quilt patterns, Hawaiʻi yearbooks, talking books, an historical doll collection, seed stations and even Portuguese ship manifests ( Depending on the library branch, not all these materials are borrowable, photographable (/xerox-able) or even easily looked at (without an appointment, showing/leaving oneʻs picture ID, requesting that staff examine the materials on your behalf or other department-specific protocols), so check with the relevant library staff via the contact information listed in the above webpage for specific accessibility conditions.

“Storytime at Home,” one of the Hawaii State Public Library System’s many playful, fun video series, showcases the storytelling talents of Hawaiʻi librarians. (Photo from the HSPLS YouTube channel)

The most family-fun oriented of these other materials may be the yearbooks ( With 2,000 volumes in the system’s collection, you might be tempted to heighten the cheer at family in-house or virtual holiday get-togethers — by making gifts such as t-shirts or calendars with adolescent yearbook photos of senior family members plastered all over them.

However, before you dare order that guava-chiffon sheet cake across which you hope Liliha Bakery will fondant aunty’s Kaimukï High School picture, you should probably call the Hawaii Public Library’s Hawai‘i & Pacific section to ask about where the specific yearbooks are located and what are the rules for looking at these books. For instance, can you Instagram their pages? Call (808) 586-3535 to inquire.

Yearbooks in the state library system also reflect every kind of school and student learning — from early twentieth-century foreign-language schools for children of new immigrants, to late twentieth-century Hawaiian-immersion schools for culturally conscious

Känaka Maoli. They display students in the first colleges in the islands and in many educational institutions long gone or taken for granted — such as Territorial-era technical and vocational schools — as well.

The Edna Allyn room in the downtown “main” branch of O‘ahu’s library system, in addition to employing staff with access to the doll collection of over 200 specimens, also holds a wonderful children’s book collection of 700 titles that honors the memory of the woman whose work a century ago led to creation of the Hawaii State Library System (

The most beautiful of the HSPLS’s other materials, though, is its two collections of Hawaiian quilt patterns, available at Waianae Public Library and the Thelma Parker Memorial Public and School Library branches.

The former branch, with 580 patterns, allows patrons to trace these quilt designs inside of the library building; though they may not take the originals home, they can keep these tracings. The latter’s 80 designs are also reference items, not to be taken out of the library — but they can be used in-library and even borrowed by another state library via inter-library loan, according to the HSPLS site.

So why not start your elderly relative or friend on a Hawaiian quilting hobby? That person can begin taking up this art during the pandemic, as hundreds of Japanese-national fans have done over past decades. Nihonjin in/from Japan have been ardent about learning from the famous Poakalani/Serrao families of quiltmaking artisans, who viewed teaching the craft as not just a way to preserve the Hawaiian tradition, but as a means for others to “pick up their own needle and thread and begin their own tradition and cultural legacy” (see for more on these families, their beautiful textile works and the results of their quilting classes, now put on hold due to the pandemic). What kinds of memories can your family make through quilts?

The most environmentally sustainable collection in the state library system’s other materials category, though, is its seed catalogs. Located in O‘ahu library branches in Kaimukï, Kalihi-Palama, Kapolei, Pearl City and Wai‘anae, and, on Hawai‘i island, Kailua-Kona and Na‘alehu, these “seed stations” are packets of seeds that patrons are free to take home, to grow and harvest themselves.

Patrons may also leave non-genetically modified seed packets to share with others. Though we cannot, unlike patrons of some public libraries on the mainland, access lending-tool collections, these seed catalogs are pretty neat.

After calling to confirm that specific branches from this list still do maintain seed stations, you might think of growing plants in your backyard or balcony. Collectively raising them from seed to branch to leaf, can transform inter-generational relationships, as elders can teach young ones …or perhaps as children can teach you and your seniors, as may be the case!

For families with children, the HSPLS’s Virtual Programs present several fun ways to learn, or to enjoy stories, together. For example, in addition to joining the virtual book clubs in different branches listed above, parents can encourage their kids to read via Beanstack, a reading-tracking app offered by the Hawaii State Public Library Academy.

Beanstack lets children (and adults) record information on the books they read, creating reading logs and member profiles, adding new readers to the list (in the event the whole family, or its members, wish/es to join in), choosing to receive recommendations on similar books and allowing responsible adult/older family to manage these logs for members. It also includes age-appropriate reading challenges or activities. A family member can keep track of different readers’ statistics in the group, too. This way, a family can share, and track, its literary adventures together.

For parents, grandparents and other adults who might have trouble picking out books for the children in their lives, the HSPLS’s access to the NoveList K-8 and NoveList databases, serves to recommend great readings for young people based on specific ages and interests.

If your kid reads best by sharing responses to books with other children across the state or nation, you can encourage participation in online reading programs ( including ones at different HSPLS branches. For example, perusing the library system’s “Upcoming Events” list

( will help you find reading programs in your local branch, such as the Friday, Dec. 4, “Paws for Reading” at the Wailuku library, where children can read to registered therapy dogs and/or dogs in training from Assistance Dogs of Hawaii, so as to improve their literacy skills and self-confidence.

Or if that smarmy, too-smart-for-her-/his-own good teen is trying your last nerve and your house is feeling way small for the two of you, give ʻem the Hot Picks challenge (an invention of this Herald writer, not the HSPLS). Check out these in-demand “Hot Picks” books or DVDs for a week (the library puts these popular items on a shortened loan period, to let others borrow next, as soon after you return them): Then as a pair, see if you and your teen can quickly read it in turn or watch it together, as a shared challenge. You can wolf down the latest Danielle Steel or James Patterson novel, or speedwatch Disneyʻs live-action Mulan, then have family debates over it.

If your kid is not a “reader” type, the following HSPLS video resources can help him/her get into books as well as get excited about thinking and learning in other ways:

For instance, Talk Story With… exposes teens and advanced-reader tweens to some great books written by mostly local authors and experts. With only five episodes produced from late July through early Sept. of this year, its watchable if limited YouTube playlist of videos each takes just under an hour to view (  As these episodes are well produced, family members that try to learn from viewing the eps might not feel that different from simply watching local educational TV together.

Your friendly neighborhood Hawai‘i state librarian videomakers offer not just stories but hands-on activities to get young children, tweens and teens to make things actively. For instance, HSPLS pairs up with Lego club LEAHI Hawaiʻi, to let children across the state demonstrate and share their Lego-building skills (see the earlier Events link for Lego-creating activities at your local branch).

The video series HSPLS Creates — our fave being a very scientific Ms. Jen teaching the physics used when constructing a makeshift lava lamp from home materials — should be viewed with a grown family member. In case the elementary-school-aged viewer tries to use required materials like scissors or vegetable oil with too much excitement, the 18 videos, ranging from a little over a minute to 15 minutes, require adult supervision.

Beyond the standard “book talks” for keiki, middle schoolers and teens, which the library system also includes in its video playlists, its delightful Storytime at Home series feels aimed at pre-K through elementary school children. Ranging from about 4 through 20 minutes, but averaging roughly 10 minutes for each of its 24 episodes, “Storytime” features inventive librarians who do not simply sing a requisite song to child audiences before they offer up their tales.

These librarian-performers also do things like teach sign language (in the case of Miss Leilani), deploy characters from puppetry (Auntie Kathleen’s specialty) and use flannel-board animation as well as draw-and-tell techniques…while also teaching occasional Japanese and Hawaiian terms (the exquisitely well-prepared Ms. Jolene).

Finally, Rhyme Time offers 14 short videos, usually just a few minutes long — we recommend the charismatic Miss Holly who uses her bare hands, dramatic character voices and finger puppets to “animate” adorable songs and attract preschool and very young audiences.

In a pre-coronavirus world, these musical short pieces would be perfect for propping up in front of your kid in a restaurant, so she or he can pop in earbuds and see the librarian perform the songs, before the meal comes.


The Samaritan Counseling Center Hawaii, an interfaith organization, recognized Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin in its biennial Ho‘omenemene (Compassion) Awards ceremony, held via Zoom during the Center’s Virtual Benefit and Silent Auction on Saturday, Oct. 3. Rimban Toyokazu Hagio of Honpa Hongwanji received the award on behalf of the mission.

“Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin … offers Sunday services and Buddhism classes, education for children and teens, and hosts numerous organizations and cultural activities. The Betsuin is a strong advocate for mental health and a positive presence in the community,” stated the Center in its official announcement.

Rimban (chief minister) Toyokazu Hagio of Honpa Hongwanji Mission
Rimban (chief minister) Toyokazu Hagio of Honpa Hongwanji Mission accepted the Hoʻomenemene Award on behalf of the church. (Photo from the Honpa Hongwanji website)

The active Jödo Shinshü Buddhist organization was recognized by SCCH alongside individual awardees Rev. Dr. Gary C. Augustin, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and David C. Livingston, a financial advisor and event photographer; and alongside fellow organizational awardees Nä Mea Kupono Learning Center, a therapeutic educational and spiritual environment for families and community members, and the Xi Psi Zeta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, which educates the community on health initiatives.

“Since 2000, as part of its community outreach efforts, Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin has provided a safe, dedicated counseling room for Samaritan Counseling Center Hawaii to serve clients,” praised the Center in its Ho‘omenemene Awards program. “The Betsuin grounds are a place of healing in the urban landscape, with graceful architecture and a peaceful atmosphere that contributes to one’s overall health and well-being.”

The streamed event featured music by Grammy nominee Henry Kapono, with an additional performance by global love and peace songs composer Chaz Hill accompanied by dancer Esther Izuo of Monkey Waterfall. Jawaiian group Pueo Kane (Mark Campos, Lance Namuo, Byron Fonseca and Alika Fonseca), and the talented musicians and dancers for lu‘au shows from Malu Productions, rounded out the night’s diverse acts.

Proceeds of the fundraiser go to the Center’s Client Assistant Fund, which subsidizes therapeutic counseling for uninsured, underinsured, elderly and low-income clients, and to its Jolene Gerell Memorial Endowment Fund.

The Samaritan Counseling Center Hawaii offers these awards to “recognize individuals and organizations whose work over many years exemplifies what we can accomplish as interfaith advocates and active participants, and whose work promotes hope and healing in Hawai‘i Communities” ( The S. Beretania St. non-profit believes “there is a close relationship between body, mind, spirit and community,” and attempts to offer low-cost (even free) mental-health services to the community within cultural and spiritual contexts in various locations on O‘ahu.


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