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Little Laundromat Librarian: One woman's push to boost literacy in Shafter, Bakersfield

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jan 10, 2024
  • Teresa Twisselman started the Little Laundromat Library project in 2020 after retiring from a life of working with children to boost literacy in schools across Kern County. Now, Twisselman is helping boost the skill in Shafter and Bakersfield helping maintain little libraries in the the two communities.
  • The video shows an average drop-off day for Twisselman in Shafter as she sorts through books people have borrowed and returned before adding new ones at the Sparklean Laundry, and Little Libraries created by the Shafter Rotary Club at Stringham and Mannel parks.


You’ve likely seen little libraries all over the area, but did you know there’s a person who helps stock them?

Teresa Twisselman started the Little Laundromat Library when she retired a few years ago during the pandemic. After spending the bulk of her life working with children on literacy, she wanted to turn a new page. Now, on a weekly basis, you can see her out around Shafter and Bakersfield working on that, swapping books in and out of her personal collection for the community.

“Reading is such a gift and it's , you know, as far as kids go — all the years I worked as a reading specialist it was like, you know, it's a gateway skill. So you really want people to be able to read, but they have to have books in their hands to do that," said Twisselman.

In Shafter, Teresa focuses on three different libraries, the one she created at Sparklean Laundry in Downtown, and the little free libraries that were created by the Shafter Rotary Club at Stringham and Mannel Parks.

Twisselman noted some of the books she rotates in and out are donations from around the community, but some of them come from her. She said she doesn’t mind spending a little bit here and there because of the impact that she’s having on communities.

“I just want people to read, you know, so, and like I said, when I started in the pandemic, like they couldn't. There just wasn't books available unless you could afford to buy them or just had a bunch,” said Twisselman

And though the Shafter community is well removed from pandemic restrictions with a vibrant library to help the community, Twisselman said what she does isn’t a must, but she still wants to be a part of getting books into people's hands.

“Libraries were closed. Schools were closed, there was not really any access to books at the time. So, I felt like it was a really critical thing then; it's less critical now but it still still gets literacy out to the people. The research is very clear that books in the home increase literacy with the family. So, that's what I feel like I'm doing and that's why I do it,” said Twisselman

When we spoke with Twisselman we asked if this project was as big as she’d want the project to get. She said she’d be open to expanding it a little bit more.

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