Hawaii State Library

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Hawaii State Library
Front facade
Location 478 S. King St., Honolulu, Hawaii, USA
Built 1911–1913
Architect Henry D. Whitfield
Part of Hawaii Capital Historic District
NRHP Reference # 78001020
Added to NRHP 12/01/1978

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]

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]

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.[3]

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.[3]



  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. 
  3. ^ a b "Hawaii & Pacific Section: History of the Hawaii State Library". Retrieved 2010-05-15. 

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Coordinates: 21°18′21″N 157°51′27″W / 21.30591°N 157.85746°W / 21.30591; -157.85746