MARINE CORPS BASE, CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Nestled in a cozy corner on the second floor of the U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific headquarters, is a room packed with collective knowledge, dreams and fantasies of people from throughout time.
No secret clearance is required and there is no admittance fee. Those who work here are welcome to walk right through the doors and take any one of the hundreds of books home.
The Camp Smith Library may not be very large, but it has all the amenities of a regular library with special sections dedicated to its audience.
“We have a specialized collection specifically tailored to military personnel,” said Polly Chan, base librarian. “We have much more than just your average books.”
The library has your normal collection of literature alongside an extensive collection of research and reference material for military personnel.
“We have the entire ‘Jane’s Military Collection,’ which a lot of people use while they are here for research during operations and while taking advancement course work,” Chan said. “The knowledge in these books is extremely valuable. Some of these books can cost up to a $1,000.”
Research books are not the only worthwhile aspects of the library. Books from some of today’s brightest and most popular authors call the library here, home.
“Every month we receive new titles from the New York Times bestseller list,” Chan said. “We have the most current titles and old classics.”
Maybe books just aren’t on the agenda, or maybe reading can be a sleep inducer. The library has that covered as well. Audio books of some of those new titles and classics can be found on compact discs.
Perhaps reading or speaking another language strikes a fancy. Then check out one of the Rosetta Stone Language Courses. The library has more than 18 courses in languages like, Italian, Japanese and French. These computer based learning programs can cost as much as $500 for a set, but are free to borrow here.
Some other material the library offers include: college course books, current newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, magazines, literature from around the world and of course, the entire collection of the Marine Professional Reading Program, also known as the Commandant’s Reading List.
Many service members have already learned the benefits of the library here.
“They have a lot of tools and many great books to choose from,” said Cpl. Eric Lafkoff, a G-5 war planner here. “The software packages like the Rosetta Stone language tools are really great. I didn’t even realize they offered them until recently.”
The library is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Chan encourages base personnel to stop by the library to check out all it has to offer.
“Edu-macate yourself,” Lafkoff said. “An informed Marine makes better decisions."