Kern County Supervisors Step In to Save McFarland’s Only Library

Kern County leaders have blocked the City of McFarland’s controversial plan to convert its only community library into a police station. The library will not only remain open to residents, but will expand operations from two to five days a week under the new budget passed by the county’s Board of Supervisors. 

This is a huge triumph for the small farming community and its youth. Even McFarland’s police chief Kenny Williams, who also serves as city manager, acknowledged as much. While the police department needs more space, longer library hours “is also a win,” Williams said, as quoted EdSource. “It’s not all a negative.”  

The expanded library hours are made possible by federal COVID relief funds received by Kern County. Two other county libraries, Beale Memorial Library and Southwest Library in Bakersfield, will also see expanded hours as a result of that money.

But there’s a big caveat. Those funds will eventually run out, and county leaders say a one-cent sales tax for unincorporated residents will be needed to keep the library and many other county services afloat. That measure will appear on the ballot this November and requires a simple majority to pass. It’s considered an uphill battle. A similar measure received just 35.32% of the vote in 2018.