Plans are underway to close the Kern County Library branch in Kernville.
Kern County supervisors will be asked within the next few weeks to permanently close the 500-square-foot space, which has been out of circulation for repairs since late last year.
Kern County Library Director Nancy Kerr said the small branch in the former Oddfellows building in Kernville is too small, too close to another rural library in Wofford Heights and has seen a steady decline in patronage for years.
Kerr said the Kernville branch has a couple of computers for public use but the space is too small to keep much of a book selection to offer area residents.
The branch, she said, has "mostly been used to pick up materials ordered from other libraries."
Closing the branch, she said, would save the county around $11,000 in rent and computer services a year. The two computers would likely be moved 4.6 miles away to the Wofford Heights, Kerr said, perhaps along with some of the books.
Donna Jackson is frustrated by the possibility of closing the library. She's tried to convince Kern County officials to move the branch instead because having a library in Kernville is convenient for residents.
Jackson can catch a bus down to the Wofford Heights Library, a six-minute ride away. But the bus schedule drops her off with a long wait before the branch there opens at 10 a.m.
Having its own library branch, she said, "is important to Kernville."
Kerr said the idea of closing the Kernville branch has been talked about for years.
It is really rare to have two library branches within five miles of each other in a rural setting like the Kern River Valley, she said. And a third library branch is not far away in Lake Isabella.
Then, when rains caused the Kernville branch roof to collapse and tiles to fall from the ceiling, the topic was raised again.
It didn't help that asbestos was found in the ceiling of the building and that repairs to the structure ended up severing the computer connection to the branch.
Kerr said only two people have contacted the Kern County Library Department about the Kernville branch since it closed.
One person, Jackson, was unhappy, Kerr said. The other said they could make it to Wofford Heights.
Supervisor Mick Gleason said he believes the best way to provide service to Kernville is to schedule stops by the bookmobile, a mobile library service offered by the county.
It's not about the money, he said.
"It's more (a case of) ... what's the best way to manage the library system,'" Gleason said.