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Independent Shafter Library thrives with community support

When the county library system could not support the Shafter Library, the community stepped in to keep their library open.
Shafter Library
Posted at 5:32 PM, Nov 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-07 21:25:53-05

SHAFTER, Calif. (KERO) — Last year, the residents of Shafter voted to run their library independently following county budget cuts related to the pandemic. Since the change, the Shafter Library has been operating with funds from the city and Bakersfield College, and residents report that they’re seeing some positive changes.

The Shafter Library was concerned about its financial situation after the pandemic, but as Education Partnership Director for the City of Shafter David Franz points out, others stepped up to help keep the library open.

“It was really out of demand for the community to have the library open,” Franz said. “The county wasn’t able to open the library after covid, and there was a widespread outcry from the community that we really needed this library to be open, and so the City Council stepped up and opened the library.”

Franz adds that the community also came through, raising a significant amount of funding for the library.

“This has really been very much community driven, so there are people in the community who have donated time and money and effort to make this a place that is very welcoming,” said Franz.

With other libraries in Kern County running on limited hours, the Shafter Library is open five days a week. Bakersfield College Library Technician Samantha Saldana says that full operating schedule is necessary. With the increase in hours, the library has seen an increase in the community using the resources it provides.

“It really has been community support,” said Saldana. “Just a lot of families here looking for things to do, and needing this space has just been attracting them in and them telling their friends or bringing in other people has really just helped it grow.”

Saldana says that by this time next year, she hopes to see the library checking out 3,000 books or more a month.

Employees at the Shafter Library say they recognize the help and support from the community, and they’re doing their best to return the favor.

“We also have events of our own that are open to the public, and are really just for a chance for people to get together,” said Franz, adding, “The idea is that we want people to assume that the library is open and come and not have to think about scheduling around when the library is open.”

More from 23ABC about the Shafter Library’s progress:

Shafter to withdraw library from Kern County's Library System

Bakersfield College to help Shafter Library reopen this fall