Kaho`olawe’s rich culture and history is a symbol of resilience and a hope for the future of the Hawaiian Nation, according to the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission. The island also provides an opportunity to rebuild a cultural heritage; as the only major island in the Pacific that has been archaeologically surveyed from coast to coast, KIRC’s current inventory contains an intact record of cultural and historical significance.
The KIRC recently unveiled a collection of that inventory via the Kaho`olawe Living Library, which is a virtual museum pilot program that features images and documents for academic, professional and personal development. The entire collection is publicly searchable here.
Kaho`olawe’s history and culture come alive within the vast collection of archival materials such as reports, documents, photographs, negatives, slides and archaeological artifacts. The collection includes more than 8,500 photographs, 2,500 texts and 10,000 artifacts–all in need of proper preservation in order to be shared with the public.
Through the digitization, preservation and global sharing of a growing collection of Reserve items places and stories, this Living Library can now offer a new means of access to Kaho`olawe.
A recent survey of the community’s needs and interest in accessing the island’s intellectual resources exhibited a clear demand for library and archived materials, according to KIRC. The organization emphasized the importance of sharing cultural wealth for all generations in a unique manner that can be blended in spite of differences and changes over the years.
The Living Library was made possible due to a two-year grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ 2014 Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Program
“We are proud that an IMLS grant has helped the Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission develop its virtual museum,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “This important project makes historic documents and photographs accessible to the public, fostering a greater understanding of the Kaho`olawe culture and heritage and preserving this critical history for generations to come.”
Kaho`olawe Living Library will continually enable access to Hawaiian artifacts, storied places and archival materials; provide opportunities to sustain Hawaiian heritage, culture and knowledge; and preserve historic Kaho`olawe documents and photos for access by future generations of residents and visitors, thereby perpetuating Native Hawaiian culture.
KIRC will be releasing a mobile app that will transform the Living Library from a content management system (database) into an accessible multimedia user experience. Presenting a fully functioning map of Kaho`olawe that enables the user to virtually explore the Reserve and to discover the archived collection piece by piece and story by story, the app will also include “oral history” video segments with stories told by key Kaho`olawe participants.
Photo of Wiliwili tree in bloom courtesy Kaho`olawe Living Library