Library system funding up in the air

Posted at 12:37 AM, Feb 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-03 03:37:22-05

For more than a year, Kern County libraries have been the focus of funding issues.

At a meeting hosted by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, citizens from Kern River Valley, Ridge Crest, Mojave and Bakersfield all brought forth their ideas on how to save their libraries.

With shrinking budgets and many county services in the cross-hairs, keeping the lights on and the books stocked have been at the center of two grassroots movements.

One of these efforts is fronted by the Advocates for Library Enhancement and hopes to add an eighth of a cent sales tax increase on the 2016 ballot to help publicly fund local libraries.

The ALE says that the Kern County library system is the most poorly funded system of its size in California, with about $9 spent per capita in comparison to the $25 per capita state average.

The other hopes to avoid taxation by partnering with an outside private company to help fund the libraries. Doing so would likely mean that local government would not have complete control.

As the debate continues on how to save Kern's libraries, the supervisors will have to make a decision soon. Getting the potential tax on a 2016 ballot would require a resolution before mid-March.