Bakersfield, California 2020-10-14 23:30:00 –
For years, the Pamelabishop was haunted on the bookshelves of the Rasban Branch of the Kern County Library in Oildale’s China Grade Loop.
“I enjoyed coming here, sitting down and getting out of the house,” said Bishop, an avid reader who lives just down the street from the northern branch of the river.
Then, almost a year and a half ago, the branch was closed unexpectedly. It was labeled “temporary,” but the shutdown of COVID-19, combined with the prolonged asylum from Bishop’s beloved neighborhood library, exacerbated flood damage and construction delays.
Things were looking up on Wednesday.
“I’m my first customer,” Bishop said when Rasbun checked the books on the first day of his return to service and spoke to library staff.
“It’s great for the local neighborhood to bring the library back again,” said Teresa Becker, the new manager of the branch.
Sure, there was a bit of a clear festive mood on Wednesday — and for good reason. Not only is Rathbun not dead, it’s entering a new stage in life with fascinating new flooring, new fixtures and redesigned floor plans.
But library spokeswoman Jasmine Robasso said more would come.
“The interior has some additional upgrades along the way, including public computers, new tables and chairs, a children’s reading playhouse, and wall art,” she said.
She said the branches looked beautiful.
Sherry Wade, regional director of the West Khan region of the library system, said all communities benefit from free public libraries.
“There are many inquiries from local residents,” he said. People heard the branches come back, and they are curious.
“There are a lot of people here who live on bonds,” Wade said. But it’s not just Oildale. People in Delano, Wasco, Taft, Khan River Valley, and elsewhere in Khan benefit not only from the educational offerings offered by the library, but also from the entertainment side.
“And it’s free,” she said.
However, only half of the 20 physical libraries in the Kern County Library System are open. And the 12 “open” branches are working on a significantly shorter schedule, with health restrictions reducing service.
For example, Rathbun is open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 6 pm. And COVID-19 remains an important factor, with almost all work departments scheduled two or three days a week, along with funding and staffing.
Nevertheless, library leaders and staff continue to expand their offerings and activities for children and adult patrons who do not require any visits to the library building.
Book clubs and e-books. Reading program. And through our partnership with Hoopla, you have virtually access to audiobooks, comics, movies and music. All you need is a library card.
And if you need a physical connection to a real library or librarian, Rathbun can take advantage of new services called curbside services and indoor express appointments. Express appointments allow library patrons to browse shelves, use copy machines, ask staff for help, and much more in 30 minutes.
“It was really hard not to open the library,” Bishop said. But when she put the book in a bag and headed to the door on Wednesday, she seemed happy that Rasbun was back.
I said to the smiling staff, “Lady.” “Until we meet again!”
Stephen Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @semayerTBC.