The City of Shafter has received the Helen Putnam award from the League of California Cities for its work on reopening the Shafter Library.
Shafter was in danger of having no library services when the Kern County Library system closed the Shafter branch. A nonprofit group, Listen to Shafter, headed up by Katie Wiebe and Melissa Bergen, reached out to the city and let them know that the community was concerned about not having a library available for children and adults alike.
When hearing of the closing, the Shafter City Council directed its staff to try to find ways that would allow them to reopen the library.
Through an intergovernmental effort with Listen to Shafter, Friends of the Library, Bakersfield College and the community, the effort to save the Shafter Library was begun. The collaboration resulted in the library being reborn as the Shafter Municipal Library. It was reopened in January 2022.
The Helen Putnam Award for Excellence was presented to Shafter at the Sacramento League of Cities 2023 Annual Conference and Expo. It was in the Intergovernmental Collaboration category and was given to them for their exceptional efforts in saving the Shafter Library.
Mayor of Shafter Chad Givens said that the award is a testament to the efforts of community partners as well as the Shafter Library and Learning Center's director, David Franz. Franz was brought in by the city in 2011 to be a part of their vision for the Shafter Education Project, which is a partnership between local schools and the city, aimed at building a better learning environment for our students to excel.
Givens said that Franz and his staff continue to be creative in their endeavors to capture the heart of our community through art and education.
City Manager Gabriel Gonzalez said, "We are humbled to receive such a prestigious award from the League of California Cities. We accept the award on behalf of our youth and our residents. After all, they are the benefactors of the Shafter Library and Learning Center. We want to thank our partner, Bakersfield College, for their collaboration. This award is as much theirs as it is ours."