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KS Maui sophomore Sierra Kaula (left) digitized the project’s first rare book with guidance from Library Assistant Kauʻi Podlewski (right). The digitized books will be distributed to the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, Bishop Museum Press, the State Department of Education, KS Kapālama’s Midkiff Learning Center, and made available to the community.

KSM haumāna help digitize rare Hawai‘i books preserving them for future generations

Feb. 7, 2019

The Kamehameha Schools Maui High School library staff has engaged haumāna in digitizing rare books, giving students a glimpse at Hawai‘i’s past while preserving the publications for future generations of learners.

Librarian Ketra Arcas and Library Assistant Kauʻi Podlewski of the campus’ Charles Reed Bishop Learning Center developed the project to carry on the work of retired Librarian Ramona Ho, who cultivated the library’s rare Hawaiian book collection over a span of 15 years.

“The haumāna are a part of every step of the process and can take pride in knowing that the work they do today may be viewed in the future by their own grandchildren or great-grandchildren,” Arcas said.

“Paper and book bindings deteriorate in our humid island weather. It is a constant battle to preserve the physical book copies. Also, when books are published in Hawaiʻi, they are published in limited quantities and are often not printed again. This makes the digitizing project even more valuable.”

The first book digitized through the project was “The Missionary’s Daughter:  A Memoir of Lucy Goodale Thurston of The Sandwich Island.” Published in 1842, the 222-page book is the learning center’s oldest publication.

With guidance from Podlewski, sophomore Sierra Kaula digitized the book in about two hours over three days. In the last month, 11 student volunteers and a retired teacher helped digitize six additional books.

“The haumāna have enjoyed skimming the pages of historic work while the images are being captured,” Arcas said. “We are only in the beginning stages of this project and are not fully aware of its reach. But we look forward to the outcome, and are so grateful for the many hands that will make this possible.”

Arcas plans to reach out to other librarians and archivists at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College, Bishop Museum Press, State Department of Education and KS Kapālama’s Midkiff Learning Center to identify schools and organizations that would benefit from access to the rare books.

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