The Hawaii State Library is housed in a historic Classical Revival style building in downtown Honolulu just to the west of Honolulu Hale. The structure serves as the central branch of the statewide library system. The library’s main building is a four-story rectangular structure with a six-story tower in the rear. The library’s entrance features 20-foot high Tuscan columns and 18-foot arches.
The State Library was designed by Henry Whitfield, who was the brother-in-law of renowned industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose bust graces the entrance. Carnegie donated $100,000 to the library’s construction. Books, as well as financial donations toward the library, were received from Princess Pauahi, Queen Emma, Queen Kapiolani, and King Kalakaua.
The library had its beginnings as a “Reading Room” that opened in 1879. At that time only men could check out books because the goal of the library was to keep rowdy seamen out of trouble. The collection included about 5,000 volumes. In 1930 architect Charles William Dickey designed two wings that expanded the library’s size and creating an open-air courtyard in the center of the building. The library’s second floor is an official Federal Depository Library housing federal documents.
Also on the second floor is Hawaii’s only Patent and Trademark Depository Library where patent and trademark searches may be completed. A popular community resource, the library’s palm-lined center courtyard also provides a nice place to relax and read a book. The library’s Mural Room features artwork depicting ancient Hawaiian legends.
The Hawaii State Library is located at 478 South King Street in downtown Honolulu at the corner of King and Punchbowls Streets.