Mark Goniwiecha (MLIS 1982), professor of library science at the University of Guam, completed a sabbatical leave project to start a school community library at Kapingamarangi Atoll, an "outer island" municipality of Pohnpei state in the Federated States of Micronesia, about 1,000 miles southeast of Guam. He was on Kapingamarangi atoll for five months in the spring of 2007.
At one degree north of the equator, Kapingamarangi is one of the most remote and least developed islands in Micronesia. The Polynesian people of Kapingamarangi live a traditional subsistence lifestyle of fishing with homemade outrigger canoes. There is no airstrip, no airplanes, no automobiles, no electricity, no television, and no Internet. The Pohnpei state ferry, the Micro-Glory, or the Caroline Voyager, arrives three or four times annually — approximately quarterly. The mail arrives on the field ships, along with passengers and cargo supplies. There is a solar-powered computer and radiophone, which, when functioning, enable email and voice communication with Pohnpei island, other islands in the region, and passing ships.
Professor Goniwiecha solicited and received contributions from colleagues, former classmates, family members, friends and philanthropic groups. All in all, more than 55 donors sent more than 155 boxes of books, magazines, and newspapers, plus library supplies and school supplies, including more than 2,000 books. Two magnanimous donors sent two entire sets of World Book Encyclopedia. Another very generous benefactor sent a five-year run of up-to-date National Geographic magazines, a set of 60 National Geographic books, and other children's books. One wonderful person sent more than 300 books. Several people contributed cash. Boxes of books continue arriving on field ships long after Goniwiecha departed from the island. Contributions arrived from Guatemala, China, Australia, Canada, Great Britain, Guam, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington state, California, Texas, Florida, Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Goniwiecha's home state of Michigan.
Previously, Goniwiecha established a book, magazine, newspaper and CD collection for the English division at Rajamangala University of Technology in Surin, in rural, northeastern Thailand.
- "UOG professor helps develop library in Pohnpei," by Lacee Martinez, Guam Pacific Daily News, August 27, 2007, page 3.
- "Goniwiecha returns from remote island," Phillips Academy Class of 1969 Website, by Jeremy Bluhm (one of Goniwiecha's former classmates)
- International Association of School Libraries (IASL) "Special Interest Group—International Development" website, April 2008.
- International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) "School Libraries and Resource Centers" online newsletter (PDF), July 2008
- An aerial view of Kapingamarangi Atoll, taken by International Space Station astronauts