History of the Kern County Library
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.