SHAFTER, Calif. (KGET) – The town of Shafter loves its library so much that it is apparently ready to part ways with the Kern County library system. But there is no Fort Sumter story here. All parties, to varying degrees, are on board.
The Shafter Library officially became independent on Friday when the city took over from the county. How, you might ask, does a city administration normally busy with things like police, potholes, and parks pivot into the book lending business?
With help, of course. Shafter has contracted with Library Systems & Services, a national company with offices on the west coast in Riverside, for the necessary software and ongoing support, and with Bakersfield College, who will actually be the library staff.
What about the books, you can ask. Supported. The Kern County Library gifted Shafter their entire collection.
So here are four partners working together on behalf of literacy for a quaint little farming town. Fifth, if you include the Shafter office of GAF, a national roofing company, they are building a modular annex for the library.
But all of this will take time. The new Shafter independent library probably won’t open until January 2022.
It will be worth the wait, says Shafter resident Katie Wiebe of Friends of the Library.
“With the partnership between British Columbia and the town of Shafter to make it a municipal library, which means for us that it will be open more hours, more days, it would be a more cohesive experience for people.” , she said.
But it wasn’t just Shafter. Ten more of the county’s 22 remaining libraries were also closed. What about the people of these cities who love libraries?
Rejoice, says Kern County Library Director Andie Sullivan. The 10 are expected to reopen before the end of the year, starting with the Buttonwillow branch on October 14. The others are in the process of hiring and training staff.
Book-hungry Shafterites will have to look out the windows of their town library for a bit more. But, as Andie Sullivan would like to remind them, the Wasco County branch is just a few miles down the road and is open now.
Close, but not a five mile bike ride. That’s how Wiebe arrived at the adjacent Shafter Learning Center on Friday.