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Bakersfield College and the Shafter Library partnership being explored

In recent rulings, the City Council is looking into the possibility of the Shafter Branch Library partnering with Bakersfield College to offer the community a chance to utilize the services.

Since the coronavirus outbreak, all of the 24 branches of the Kern County Library system have been closed to the public, with some of the branches now able to offer curbside services, as well as online ordering. Wasco’s branch of the library system was identified as one of the branches reopening for curbside services. The Shafter library was not included in the list, with the possibility of the branch remaining closed for the foreseeable future.

The Shafter Learning Center shares the building with the library, offering youth and adults the opportunity to learn in organized classes and programs as well as learn at their own pace.

With the possibility of the Shafter Library not reopening, Bakersfield College has stepped in and shown interest in operating the library, forming a partnership that would help students.

The City Council voted unanimously to explore the possibility further, holding a meeting that would discuss the different options that will be offered.

Currently, the city owns the building that houses the Shafter Learning Center and the Shafter Library. All of the contents of the library, such as the furniture, software and books, belongs to the Kern High School District.

Council member Manuel Garcia said that he believes the best option would be for the city to own the building and all of its contents outright.

“We would do better to own and operate the library, not having to depend on the county for anything related to the library,” Garcia said.

Another option, which is the one being pursued at the moment, is a partnership between the city and Bakersfield College. This would have Bakersfield College operating the library, in conjunction with the city.

With the Shafter branch one of the smallest of the Kern District’s libraries, the location was one of the busiest locations in terms of traffic and participation. They ranked in the top eight of the branches regarding activity in the library, having more foot traffic and participation than much larger branches.

Education Partnership Director and Director of the Shafter Learning Center David Franz was hopeful that the amount of traffic at the library and its outstanding numbers in participation would play a part in having the library reopened, but it did not develop as hoped. Franz said that the possible partnership could be a winning situation for both parties.

Supervisor of the 4th District David Couch said that this partnership could become a model for similar cities in this situation.

“BC officials see this as an opportunity for them,” Couch said. “They know that the community really values education and is investing in it. I think that if this is successful, it could be a prototype for doing the same in other branches.”


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