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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Mookini Library

My first visit to my future workplace was on the day I received the result to my TB test. Who knew? Not having TB is a requirement to getting a job with the State of Hawai'i. That turned out to be the final link in a long chain of qualifications I had to meet in order to be hired.

My workplace is the Mookini Library, and it is pronounced Moe-O'Keenie, not moo-kini, even though there is not a little Hawai'ian okina (')--the symbol for a glottal stop--between the two letter o's.

I walked into the building and saw:

The eponymous Edwin H. Mookini, chancellor of UHH from 1976-1979.
Portrait of Dr. Mookini. Sexy, right?

Special exhibit about the districts on the island of Hawai'i and their history and legends from the Hawai'ian Studies Program. Students in this program learn about Hawai'ian heritage, history, arts, and graduate speaking fluent Hawai'ian. There is a lot of exhibit space with four horizontal display tables in the lobby.

An ATM. 
An ATM in the library lobby. The convenience! It made it easy to decide where to open my bank account.

Students at the circulation desk.

The Information Desk.
The Hawai'ian word kokua means help or cooperation
I decided to make this my destination.

All I said was "Hi, I'm Morgan Light" and the warm welcomes began. I met a few staff members including the Library Director, who said she'd nudge the State HR people to move my appointment ahead quickly. She also took me on a short tour of the library and the campus.

I found many interesting things on this tour. As you can imagine, I could not help but compare things with Fogelson Library.

      Mookini Library                                     Fogelson Library
  • 93,000 sq. ft. library on three levels                                                                         40,000 sf on three levels
  • staff of 20 with 8 ft librarians, 23 student employees                                             Staff of 3, and varying number of students
  • 9 group study rooms, 4 w/computer and large monitor                                        1 group, 4 individual rooms
  • 100 PCs with MS Office for student use                                                                  8 since the computer lab was annexed away from library use
  • 3 Mac computers with Adobe Creative Suite 6                                                      Promises promises
  • Media production room ('Ulu Room) for student use                                           N/A, several around campus. After all, that's the focus at SFUAD
  • Library classroom with 26 computers                                                                    Lost to Digital Art Department, Summer '15
  • 3  scanner-printers                                                                                                   1, works occasionally
  • 4 black and white printers and 1 color printer                                                      1 for student use. it's the same machine as the scanner, above
  • 3 black and white photocopiers                                                                               2
  • 2 DVD and 1 VHS single-viewer stations                                                               28-seat viewing room. I do miss the cute Miniver Room.
  • Support of the State of Hawaii                                                                                Former support of Greer Garson, who died in 1996
  • Special Collection of Hawai'ian resources with a librarian                                 Southwest Collection, paging only. Free access lost Summer '15

The Hawai'ian Collection has a dedicated librarian and its own student workers

Statistics are informative, but the real differences were these:
the size of the staff,
I have heard complaints that some positions were cut, but there are six full-time librarians on staff and two staff members who do the IT and A/V support. Having a library IT professional with four student workers makes this job amazingly easier. Nobody has to take time away from library services in order to fiddle with the databases or fix a copier. Each semester. the librarians conduct around 100 library instruction ("Information Literacy") classes.

 an atmosphere that supports serious study,

dedicated classrooms for conducting Information Literacy Instruction,

Computer center in addition to about 50 other computers throughout the building,

and, best of all, a focus on student academic needs instead of student entertainment. There is a gaming center and there are pool tables, but they are in a different building. 
. . . as they should be.

The State did take care of things quickly and I was officially hired just a few days after that first visit. My first day of work was Friday the 27th, the day after Thanksgiving.  That day, the library was closed as was and most of the campus. It was a perfect day to do the necessary paperwork, take a thorough tour of the building and the campus, and get an introduction to my job and work space. 

This was prepared for me at the entrance to my cubicle:

On Monday, the library staff threw a surprise welcome party for me. They seem almost as happy that I am here as I am to be here. Almost. 
Welcome gifts from other staff members. Home-grown and hand-made.
I know they are relieved to get someone into my position because the previous evening supervisor was promoted about 9 months ago. But they can't possibly be as happy as I am.

This is the pin I wear.

 One thing that is better at SFUAD is the friendly familiarity between the staff and the patrons. Besides there being about ten times the number of students on this campus, there were some incidents with stalking and patrons interfering with staff members' time. So no one wears a name tag. Everyone is very professional, but there isn't the tendency to interact as closely with the students.

My first several weeks I have been here with only the clothes that I brought on the airplane. I was worried I would not be able to dress appropriately, having only capris, jeans, and a few tops. But it turns out that's all I need; shoes are required in the building but dress is very informal. When I get my stuff from the moving company, I'll have too many clothes.

Some places in the library building are really cold, but my area is open and near the entrance, so it is comfortable most of the time. I will hang on to my little space heater (I brought it in case the A/C was freezing, as it was sometimes in Fogelson), but I don't think I'll need it. Maybe I'll loan it to Veronica, who wears a big down parka with a fur-trimmed hood while she is in her office.

Poor Veronica!

But me, for the only time in my life except for the euphoric time after the births of my children, I am perfectly happy. I can say that I feel perfect and perfectly happy.

What a lucky duck, since I can't afford to retire, to get exactly the job I wanted! 

Sunday, December 20, 2015


Excited, elated, thrilled, I arrived in Hilo and staked out my space in the Hilo Seaside Hotel. Then I immediately went to bed and slept for three days. that worked out fine because it wasn't exactly the kind of weather where I could work on my tan right away.

This was the view from my hotel window. There were often some ducks here, and I also saw sandpipers, nene, and a heron.

What is a nene? It's a goose indigenous to the Hawaiian Islands. The webbing on its feet is shorter than most geese and ducks, leaving the toes and claws out so that it can more easily climb rocks and rough terrain. (It is pronounced "nay-nay" in case you were wondering. And if you were just about to say "neen" or "nee-nee," just  don't.)

 This photo from National Geographic shows the webbing on the nene's foot.      [ROBERT SISSON/National Geographic Creatve:]

Here is the heron:

The monkey pod trees in Waialoa River Park, downtown Hilo, are so big that I mistook them for hills before I got to know my way around. 

Lunch.  Actually, half for lunch, half for dinner. The avocados are gigantic, the papayas were three for a dollar. Groceries are expensive, but if you just eat fruit from Farmers' Market, you can dine fairly inexpensively. The mandarin orange in the photo with the papaya was picked from a tree at a rental house I looked at. There is so much fruit here, that people sometimes leave it lying on the ground under the tree:  oranges, tangerines, coconuts, bananas, and persimmons are the ones I have seen lying around in peoples' yards.

Feral chickens aren't ubiquitous like they are in Kaua'i, but there are a lot of chickens.  Here on the Big Island, they are kept by people in their yards and allowed to wander around the neighborhood. Something I don't understand, though, with chickens all over the place, is why local eggs are hard to find. I read that demand has exceeded local supply since the 1970s. I haven't found any articles that talk about salmonella or any other disease in Hawai'i eggs, only that suppliers can't keep up with the demand. Eggs at the grocery store hover around $6 per dozen, and most of them say "MAINLAND SHELL PROTECTED" on the carton. Maybe the demand is high because of the Hawai'ian dish "loco moco," a recipe that uses every fatty and high-cholesterol food that exists served together on a plate. Anyway, so far I have refused to pay travel costs for eggs.

During my first week here, it was cloudy every day. But now and then it clears up and I can see Mauna Kea or Mauna Loa--just not usually at the same time.  Here is Mauna Kea.

 The view is deceptive, especially for someone like me who lived near the Rocky Mountains much of my life. Mauna Kea is over 13,000 feet/4205 meters above sea leve, and when it's clear enough to see from Hilo, you see it 30 miles away and from sea level! You can see a couple of the observatories near the crest in the photo below.

Here is Mauna Loa, an active volcano. I'll write more about the volcanoes in a future post.

I took this photo of the moon from a parking lot near Starbuck's the week of Thanksgiving at about 7 PM. . . wearing flip-flops and no sweater, by the way. It's why I am here and it makes me so happy.