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By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Council to explore a partnership for library


Last updated 9/21/2020 at 3:52am | View PDF

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

Council members discuss the possibility of a partnership between the City of Shafter and Bakersfield College involving the Shafter Library.

At its recent meeting, the City Council voted unanimously to send a Letter of Intent to Bakersfield College to begin talks to form a partnership operating the Shafter Library.

In a recent announcement, the Kern High School District recommended the reopening of 12 of its 24 branch libraries, in which Shafter was not included.

This decision would result in the Shafter Library remaining closed indefinitely. With the budgetary restraints experienced by the district, and the covid-19 pandemic, all of the county's branch libraries had been closed. A few of the branches reopened with curbside service approximately two months ago, with the closest branch to Shafter being the branch library in Delano.

The community has shown an outpouring of support as residents are concerned about the impact the absence of access to a library in Shafter will have on our citizens, especially the youth.

Upon learning of Shafter's tenuous situation, Bakersfield College contacted the city, interested in forming some sort of partnership that would result in the opening of the library.

The city currently owns the building that houses the Shafter Library and the Shafter Learning Center, but the contents of the library, including the books, furnishings and software, is owned by the Kern County.

There were three options put forth for the council's review. The first option, which was recommended by City Manager Gabriel Gonzales and Director of the Education Partnership of Shafter David Frantz, is to pursue talks with Bakersfield College to form a partnership that would reopen the Shafter Library and would be operated by Bakersfield College, instead of the County of Kern.

The second option was to explore what the cost would be to have the City of Shafter take complete ownership of the library. This would mean that the city would purchase everything in the library, including the software, books and furnishings, and operate the library itself.

The third option was to do nothing and see what will happen with the Kern High School District, whether they would be seeing a change in their budgets and possibly reopen more than the 12 recommended libraries.

The council opted to send a Letter of Intent to Bakersfield College to begin talks about a possible partnership.

In other business, the council voted to approve the city manager to create a program that would benefit small businesses in Shafter, both existing businesses, as well as new businesses. This program would include incentives for those businesses, including reductions of fees associated with certain permits to operate. With the savings of those fees, businesses may be able to purchase certain equipment that would help them in this time of heavy restrictions due to the pandemic.

"Businesses might be able to use those monies to purchase perhaps outdoor seating, or permanent structures that would help them operate outdoors, including outdoor heaters as the pandemic extends through the fall months," said Gonzales.

This was approved by a unanimous vote, giving the go-ahead to Gonzales to bring a proposal to the council at the next council meeting for review.


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