Kern County citizens will be asked, over the next month and a half, what they want done with their library system.
The effort, now underway through a survey and marathon series of community meetings at every library in the county, is part of Kern County leaders’ ongoing discussion of what should be done to upgrade, privatize or support the flagging library system.
The 22-question survey, which went public on the Kern County Library Department’s kerncountylibrary.org website and in print one week ago, is aimed at finding out how a large percentage of people feel about county libraries.
Library Director Nancy Kerr said the questions seek to find out how often people use the library, what they think about library services and how they’d like libraries to change.
“This survey doesn’t differ from surveys that are sent out by libraries around the country,” Kerr said.
Around 250 people have take the survey online in the first week it has been available, a number that doesn’t include surveys filled out on paper and turned in at the county’s 25 library branches.
Survey respondents are asked everything from if they have a library card and how often the visit to what they think of library facilities and what new services they’d like to have access to.
Assistant Director Andie Apple said the survey is part of the whole process county supervisors started in March to investigate Kern County residents’ relationship with their libraries.
A proposal to privatize library operations, brought forward after talks between county supervisors, administrators and private library corporation Library Systems and Services LLC, was put on hold after heated opposition exploded on the public stage.
Results from a 600-person telephone poll released last month indicated that most people are happy with and supportive of their libraries, opposed to privatizing library operations and might be interested in a dedicated sales tax of one-eighth of a penny per dollar if it would improve library services.
Kerr said the survey, while not as scientific as the poll, is a way for a larger segment of the community to weigh in on libraries and, in one question, whether they might support a sales tax increase dedicated for libraries.
The community meetings are already adding a personal touch to the information gathered and giving the county the chance to hear what individual communities really want, she said.
In Arvin, Kerr said, 60 community members made it clear that they want educational programs for children and after-school programs.
In Rosamond, she said, people said they wanted professional librarians on staff while Taft speakers were focused on computer services and outreach to a growing Latino and Hispanic population.
Every community with a library will get a community meeting and they are expected to be scheduled through mid-December, Kerr said.
The meetings currently scheduled include:
Northeast Library, 6 p.m. Nov. 2.
McFarland Library, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 4.
Delano Library, 6 p.m. Nov. 5.
Buttonwillow Library, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9.
Rathburn Library, W China Grade Loop, 6 p.m. Nov. 10.
Shafter Library, 6 p.m. Nov. 11.
Frazier Park Library, 6 p.m. Nov. 12.
Boron Library, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 16.
Wasco Library, 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18.
California City Library, 6 p.m. Nov. 19