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Healthy Communities Need Healthy Libraries

Libraries have played an important role in our community for generations. Since 1986, the Kern County Library Foundation has supported library services, providing funding to enhance programming for all ages, while striving to grow its endowment for future generations. Private supportis essential to this endeavor. Free and open access to information can change the lives of our community members, who otherwise may not have those avenues available to them. It builds a brighter future for the community that we all share.

We hear more and more often that the Internet has replaced the need for our Libraries. Well, not everyone has a computer and not everything can be found online. It complements libraries, but it doesn’t replace them. The Internet isn’t free, and accessing certain research off the web is expensive. Libraries provide that necessary access, along with a physical setting that is comfortable and clean for those in need of such an environment. They are not just a place for books, but also a place for people to have conversation and interact, both of which are dwindling with the isolation that exists sitting in front of a computer screen. In short, a Google search can never replace the library.

Knowledge must always be available to all, rather it be in the area of business and finance, hobbies and crafts, consumer health, or auto repair. It can all be found in our Kern County Libraries, a community-meeting place for the gathering of knowledge and the exchange of information. Please be our partner in fulfilling our purpose of “raising funds from the community which will be used towards the enhancement and enrichment of the Kern County Library system.”

Who We Are

The Kern County Library Foundation was established in 1986, by the Kern County Board of Supervisors as a 501(c)(3) organization, with the sole purpose of enhancing the new Beale Memorial Library. The Foundation entered into a public private partnership with the County to raise $1.5 million from the private sector, while the County committed to providing $1.5 million to furnish the library. This was the first public private partnership in California.

The Foundation’s Art Collection in the Beale Memorial Library is one of the finest collections of Plein Artists in the country.   A Buffano Bear with Cubs greets you as you enter the Beale Memorial Library, and a Butterfield Horse shows you the way to the elevator. A  tour of the art can be accessed online.

Enhancements in the Library can be seen in every area. The auditorium has a Steinway Grand Piano. Portable Smartboards are available for the meeting rooms and announce upcoming events in the entryway of the Library. Self-checkout desks have been added to enhance a quick check out system. eBook platforms, a computer lab, Children’s library puppet center with computer discovery center, and an audiovisual and teen gaming system are a few of the enhancements at the Beale Memorial Library provided by the Foundation.

In 1996, the Foundation received an endowment from Fern M. Doe, a long-time Bakersfield High School English teacher. Her endowment of $690,000.00 was invested. The Foundation, with the blessing of the County, amended their bylaws to include the entire Library system in their enhancements, and to form an endowment fund with the Fern Doe donation. The Foundation now distributes approximately 4% from the endowment fund balance annually to different projects throughout the system that further enhance the Library. Artwork has been purchased for six rural branches, and the Foundation hosted the Grand Opening of the Frazier Park Branch Library.

What We Do

The mission of the Kern County Library Foundation is to enhance the services of the Kern County Library System. Our rule of thumb is that we purchase enhancements that are not normal County expenditures. For example, the County recently replaced the carpet in the Beale Memorial Library, while the Foundation added an automated self-check out system. The County purchase was a maintenance purchase, while the Foundation’s purchase was an enhancement to the check-out service of the library.

  • The Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization of the State of California.
  • All donations to the Foundation are tax deductible.
  • Donations can be specified for specific branches or can be made for the enhancement of the entire Kern County Library system.
  • The Kern County Librarian and the Kern County Library Accountant are ex-officio members of the Foundation. They present their needs to the Foundation trustees and if they fit the requirement of enhancements, they are funded through the annual distribution of approximately 4% from the endowment balance. Specific donations are also funded at this time.

It is the goal of the Foundation to increase the endowment fund to several million dollars.   In your estate planning, please consider the Kern County Library Foundation Endowment Fund. Fern Doe’s endowment donation has allowed the Foundation to provide enhancements to the Library for over twenty years.

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