For historical information about the Kern County Library & its branches, read the eBook Kern County Library, A Century of Progress.
From 1866 to 1900, there were several clubs that housed book collections, including the Woman’s Club of Bakersfield and the Kern Library Association which both had collections for its paying members. On June 2, 1900, the Beale Memorial Library formally opened, in mission-style architecture on Chester Ave. & 17th St., and was deeded by Truxtun Beale, the son of the founder of Tejon Ranch, and the elder Beale’s widow, Mary E. Beale, to the City of Bakersfield. Separately, on July 11, 1911, the Kern County Free Library was established by the Board of Supervisors and was funded by a 2.5¢ per $100 tax. Under this new county library system, 6 new branches were established. On August 16, 1923, the Bakersfield City Council drew up a notice of intention to join the county library system, and therefore, the Beale Memorial Library, East Bakersfield libraries, and collections at City Hall formally became branches of the Kern County Free Library. Since then, all public libraries in Kern County have belonged to the one and only county library system. There was a dramatic change to library services on August 22, 1952, due to a major earthquake. Because the main library was housed at the courthouse and the building was condemned by authorities, the main library spent 5 years jumping locations — between operations out of a tent, bookmobile, and temporary facilities. In 1957, a new Beale Memorial Library and Headquarters building was erected on Truxtun Ave. and L St. In 1988, a new main library building was opened as the Beale Memorial Library and Kern County Library Headquarters, on Truxtun Ave. and Q St, which still operates today. The Kern County Library provides a full range of services and resources to over 850,000 people in every city and unincorporated area of Kern County through a network operated at Kern County Library Headquarters.
Welcome to the Kern County Library!
Whether you visit us online or in person, we want to make your library experience a positive one. Our goal is to ensure customers always receive outstanding service online, in any one of our 24 libraries or two bookmobiles. We consider the Library a dynamic environment, where we strive to support active learning experiences for all ages.
During the summer months, we hold one the Library’s signature annual events: The Summer Reading Challenge, and we don’t take it lightly! Library staff work 6 to 7 months ahead of our June 1st Kickoff every year to plan, develop, create, and coordinate summer events & activities. This summer, I am proud to announce that the Kern County Library is offering the most events we have ever offered.
We have over 2,500 FREE summer reading programs, events, and learning opportunities around Kern County in our 24 branches and at select bookmobile stops. Now think about that: 24 branches, 2 bookmobiles, and offering over 2,500 FREE events & activities for kids, teens, and adults this June & July. We have something going on every day around the county.
My staff have responded to the community demand for more STEAM, early learning, technology training, craft and digital creative spaces, & more volunteer opportunities for teens and adults. We offer a wide array of activities and events for all ages.
Library staff are dedicated to this yearly effort, because we know summer learning & reading is critical, especially in Kern County with its issues in literacy, reading comprehension, & language development. The Library creates these summer opportunities for our youth to learn skills, to gain confidence, and to help build a community spirit of active learners.
Last year, over 50,000 books were read in June & July through the Library’s Summer Reading Challenge. Over 48,000 people walked through our doors and participated in our summer reading events last summer – which was an increase of 10,000 people participating in summer reading from the year before. We continue to challenge kids & teens to read and participate in educational activities every summer, because we are making an impact with keeping kids engaged and learning over the summer months, which better prepares them to return to school in the fall without learning loss.
We hope that our programs, events, and learning opportunities inspire readers to explore the world within the Library and throughout Kern County. Cultivate curiosity, by participating in our activities, reading, building, creating, and always learning. Experiences like these are the foundation to building a strong community and investing in our residents. Libraries are here for your learning adventure; let it begin today!
Director of Libraries