To experience a little piece of Maui history combined with the best bargain on the Island my vote goes to the Maui Friends of the Library Used Books. On this excursion getting there is half the fun as you wind your way past the old, now abandoned plantation village of Puunene and the present day working HC&S Sugar Mill.
Bumping along the red dirt road you follow the signs that lead to the quaint structure that is the MFOL bookstore. Once you get there, look around at the giant Monkeypod trees and the outbuildings and try to imagine what the place looked like many years ago when it was a flourishing plantation town. The library used to be part of the old Puunene School which is still standing, even though the Plantation camps have long since disappeared. The bookstore itself is not that large but trust me, here size doesn't matter!
Crammed floor to ceiling with books, books and more books, the place is a reader's paradise. There is no discrimination here...all the books, hard cover, trade paper, pocket novels, journals and sheets of music are all a whopping 10 cents. For the same price you can also pick up DVDs, CDs, books on CD and magazines. We were lucky enough to get there on a sale day and got in on the incredible bargain of 15 books for only $1.00!!! The idea is that people buy books and bring books. Bring the books you just bought and read, pick up a few more and let the process begin again. Once one of Maui’s best kept secrets, the MFOL Used Books is now frequented by locals and tourists alike. Folks visiting Maui often load up with books for their holiday reading, and when they leave they donate the books back to the book store.
It is a terrific system if you ask me. All of the money generated by the MFOL book store is allocated as grants to assist the 8 libraries in Maui County. Recent grants have funded projects such as painting the Lahaina library, fixing the Maui Bookmobile and supplying new chairs for the Lanai library. We couldn’t help but think what a worthwhile endeavor this is, especially in these days of cut backs and restraints.
MFOL is run exclusively by volunteers and they are constantly seeking for people to help operate the book store. Chores include sorting and shelving books, assisting patrons and operating the cash register.We discovered during our visit that the MFOL was founded way back in 1912 for the purpose of helping to maintain the Maui county public libraries. Somehow I think that those people with a vision way back then would be proud to see that the organization they started is still going strong.
On our visit we met John, who happens to be the volunteer coordinator for MFOL. Anyone interested in donating some of their time to this worthy cause can call him at: 808-268-2976 For more details about MFOL and directions to the book store visit the Maui Friends of the Library Website.
Many thanks to my great friend Pat who co-wrote this article with me after our visit to the MFOL.
She says that she enjoyed her stay in The Maui Garden House.