Shelf Life: Maui Bookmobile


Story by Heidi Pool

Holoholo bookmobile


TITLE: Bookmobile

THE NAME SPEAKS VOLUMES: Actually, my name is Hawaiian, and translates as “to go traveling for pleasure,” but I do carry a lot of volumes—about 3,000 books, periodicals and DVDs—everywhere I go. And I go to about forty locations every three weeks. I’m easy to find, thanks to Maui designer Saedene Yee-Ota, who created my eye-catching look: a table of my contents as a row of books behind an artistic interpretation of ‘Īao Valley, which is close to my home, the carport at Wailuku Public Library.

Because I have a rollout canopy that shades my student friends while they wait to come aboard, people sometimes mistake me for a food truck, but I can assure you that I’m 100 percent bookmobile!

THAT’S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR: My Cummins hybrid engine first roared to life in 2016. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I came with a hefty $300,000 price tag. In addition to all those volumes I carry, I have an onboard computer system, Wi-Fi with booster, solar panels, air conditioning, and a built-in sound system—paid for entirely with funds the Maui Friends of the Library raised, over three years, by selling thousands of used books. With most books going for less than a dollar, that’s a lot of books!

I like all the Friends, but one of my favorites is Michael Tinker. Besides being my driver, he takes excellent care of me, washing me by hand every couple of weeks, and taking me to Steve at Truck Shop Maui when I need extra attention.

My other best friend is librarian Jessica Gleason. She helps hundreds of my other friends—who range from preschoolers, to school-age keiki, to kūpuna (senior citizens) select items to borrow. I’m especially proud of being able to bring reading materials and audiobooks to folks who can’t easily get around. I even have a wheelchair lift.

It positively makes my engine purr to see the smiles on the faces of my youngest borrowers as they climb aboard, clutching their bright-red library cards. “Holoholo has a huge fan club, [from] seventeen-year-old Raven, who wishes she could live on the bookmobile, to ninety-nine-year-old Esther, who regularly checks out advanced astronomy books,” Jessica says.

THEY’RE PLAYING MY SONG: I may be the only bookmobile around with its own theme song. “Uncle Wayne” Watkins, who heads up the Howling Dog Band, composed the catchy ditty just for me. The chorus goes: “Hey now, people, gather around, Holoholo Bookmobile is comin’ to town, bringin’ everybody somethin’ good to read.” Yeah!

PAGING HOLOHOLO: The Hawai‘i State Library System (my boss) has a website with my schedule: Bookmobile-Schedule-FINAL.pdf. If that’s too much to type, you can call Wailuku Public Library at 243-5766 for information.


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