Kern libraries to increase hours with increased budget
Backed by a portion of the $500,000 allocated from Kern County's general fund by the Board of Supervisors, the Tehachapi Library branch will welcome patrons an extra day of the week.
Beginning Monday, Nov. 4, the library will be open Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Previously, the branch was open only three days a week.
Jake Cairns, head librarian of the Tehachapi branch at 1001 W. Tehachapi Blvd., said he is happy with the additional monetary support.
"We're really pleased with the way the Board of Supervisors stepped up to the plate and fought for this," he said. "It's the first increase we've had in three or four years...It's good, I think we're moving in the right direction."
Kern County 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner explained the reasoning behind the decision.
"The county instituted severe budget cuts a few years ago, and library hours were drastically reduced," Scrivner said. "This is an effort to begin to improve the level of service to our library users. This will result in more hours for students, seniors, and all of our residents to research our reading materials, use the Internet, and improve literacy county-wide."
"The community is pretty excited about it," the head librarian said. "It will be more convenient and more accessible for more people."
To adequately staff the additional hours, Cairns said they will hire extra temporary help, because more working hours cannot be added to the permanent workers.
"People in the community say that we're always closed when they come by, so they just quit coming by," Cairns said.
Despite the limited hours, Cairns said the Tehachapi branch is the fourth busiest of the county's more than two dozen locations.
The funds will only last through the fiscal year, according to Supervisor Scrivner, which ends June 30, 2014.
"What we worry about is what happens in the next fiscal year," Cairns said.
The head librarian said he hopes to add programs, as well.
"Right now we're just trying to get the staffing squared away," he said.
In the meantime, a range of programs and services are available. The library recently booted up free wireless internet; Cairns said it is even available from the parking lot after hours.
A Lego club meets the second and fourth Saturdays at 2 p.m., which was made possible in part by donations of Legos from the community, according to Cairns.
Pre-school story time will move to Fridays at 10 a.m. due to the new hours. The first new meeting will be Friday, Nov. 8.
Library services are also available through the library website, KernCountyLibrary.org.
"We have eBooks you can download for free to your phone, tablet, home computer, Kindle, iPad, Nook, or Samsung Galaxy," Cairns said, giving examples.
Titles can be browsed at the website after clicking the "eLibrary" tab at the top of the page.
"We keep adding more popular titles," Cairns said. "Each month our selection is growing."
For more information on library services and programs, call 822-4938.