History of the Rathbun Branch Library
Oildale, a community about 3.5 miles north of Bakersfield, established its first library in 1917. In 1921, the branch was moved to the Oildale Pharmacy. Only a few months later, the pharmacy burned down and the library was closed for two months until the business re-opened. In 1922, the Oildale Improvement Club started appealing for a new library building. As a result, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved the rental of an apartment – “with a little shelving” – for the branch. In 1929, Standard School District and the PTA donated land to the county for a new building, which opened on September 18, 1931. By 1940, the community was once again outgrowing its library. Arrangements were made with the county to purchase property for future expansion, which was done in 1959. Improvements to the branch included new furnishings, painting, and redecorating. The community continued to campaign for larger quarters. In 1977, property was secured at 200 W. China Grade Loop for a new branch site next to North High School. Up to this time, libraries had been named after neighborhoods. In this case though, the community overwhelmingly advocated the branch be named for Bryce C. Rathbun, a prominent citizen and longtime Oildale resident who was Standard School District Superintendent for 28 years. The branch opened on April 13, 1981.
For more information, read the eBook Kern County Library, A Century of Progress.