The much-anticipated Tehachapi Branch of the Kern County Library opened Dec. 4 — and right away children colored at the new workstations, parents read to their children in the lounge areas and adults browsed new books.
“So far I love it," Tehachapi resident Andrea Dyess said. "I like the lounging areas and you are able to read with your child. It’s also a nice feature to have two levels."
Said Terrence Flynn, also a Tehachapi resident, “It’s very accommodating and many different age groups can stay here and have fun."
And that's what those involved in the establishment of the branch at 212 S. Green St. sought — a place children can walk to from school or the park, seniors can access as a central location downtown and anyone who is passing through can enjoy, said Kern County 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner, a Tehachapi resident.
“We wanted a library that was going to be accessible to our community to the maximum extent possible," Scrivner said.
More than 100 people attended the Dec. 4 ribbon-cutting. They explored the new space that features a modern design with large windows, outside work space, additional computers, 3-D printers, lounges, a wheelchair ramp, elevator, up-to-date bathrooms and other amenities.
A variety of elected officials and government representatives gave speeches and dedicated the building.
"It was one of the most collaborative experiences I've had," Kern County Library Director Andie Apple said afterward, adding the city, the building owner and others have been wonderful in supporting the project.
The new location is part of a vision for a new look for downtown.
“This is what we expect to be the first of many sorts of revitalization and the next chapter of life for these buildings and ultimately for downtown," said Jay Schlosser, development services director for the City of Tehachapi.
He added, "I also think it’s really appropriate that the library is right across the street from the only movie theater in town." He explained after a trip to the movies, parents can take their children to the library.
Michelle Vance, who was the economic development coordinator for the City of Tehachapi and is now manager of the Tehachapi Valley Recreation & Park District, was involved at the beginning of the planning for the new building. She thanked the public for taking a risk on the building and announced that it gives an opportunity to have programs outside and for the STEAM and STEM children’s activities.
Other speakers at the ceremony included, Ryan Beauchamp, library building owner; Mayor Ed Grimes; City Manager Greg Garrett; and representatives from the offices of Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield; Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Bakersfield; and Assemblyman Vince Fong, R-Bakersfield.
They thanked the public, all the people involved in renovating the structure, and any organization, person or group who donated or assisted in some way to make the library better.