Brighter Days: Red Bluff Library’s new location gives patrons easier access to the library’s treasures

While browsing Facebook recently, Tehama County Librarian Todd Deck came across this post: “Why do we even have public libraries anymore? Aren’t they completely outdated?” Deck, who has a master’s degree in library science, took a deep breath, remembered the “Think Compassionately Online” sign he displays above the library computer area, and refrained from typing out a scathing reply. Instead, he responded with this invitation: “Stop by your local library. Talk to a librarian. I promise you’ll find something that will brighten your day.” Deck’s friend took up the challenge and visited a library, walking out with not one or two, but ten books he couldn’t wait to read.

This summer, the Red Bluff branch of the Tehama County Library will open the doors of its new home: 545 Diamond Avenue, the former Red Bluff Daily News building. Completely remodeled to better meet the needs of the community, the new location also brings the library to the center of town and patrons’ daily lives, conveniently located near interstate highways, retail centers and Red Bluff Skatepark.

The grand opening, planned for a few weeks after the move, will mark the north state’s first public library opening in ten years. Deck describes this momentous occasion, made possible by the dedication of Tehama County and the generosity of donors like The McConnell Foundation, as a “wonderful gift and reflection from the leadership of Tehama County. Libraries address the educational, recreational and informational needs of the community. In an age where there is so much information coming at us, we need libraries now more than ever. Libraries help people think critically about information, which helps us maintain a literate, informed democracy.”

Many elements of the Red Bluff library will transfer over to the new location: all six staff members, all volunteers, beloved programs like adult coloring time, and, of course, dedication to children’s literacy. Interactive story hour on Wednesday mornings, for example, will continue, with a weekly theme introducing a story,
related craft and playtime. For school-age kids, the library promotes Raise a Reader, a year-round reading incentive program in which students track the books and number of pages they read for the opportunity to win prizes. Deck says the program helps “young people see the benefits of reading as…personal enrichment.”  For kids who might lack the personal means or motivation to visit the library, Red Bluff Library works closely with local schools and hosts a variety of educational opportunities customized to visiting classes.

The move also enables the library to make exciting new additions. Several rooms, available for reservation, will offer quiet study spaces and a group meeting room. The new location’s proximity to Shasta College’s Tehama campus has even prompted a unique partnership including an English as Second Language (ESL) class for adults. No matter what building houses the library, Red Bluff Library staff have always been willing to take the library’s bounty outside of its four walls. Ongoing efforts include visits to assisted living homes, book discussions with high school students and partnership with Safe Education & Recreation for Rural Families (SERRF) summer program.

The library also offers technological resources. “Foundationally,” says Deck, “our library is about literacy for all ages. But the library is also a technology and information resource.” Toward that end, the library promises the fastest internet in Tehama county. The new building will offer a station of eight computers available for public use. Patrons will find multiple “tech bars,” standing-height tables with outlets for charging phones or laptops. The library also has plans for a “maker/activity center.” Makerspaces have become popular in libraries lately, but, as Deck puts it, makerspaces “have a specific intention and our space is trying to have a broader use.”

After the move, as ever before, Red Bluff Library staff will respond to feedback in designing the library to meet community needs. After all, Deck says, “The library belongs to the community as a free, unique space for entertainment and enriching life through learning.”

After several years of preparation and planning for this move, remodeling of the new site began in August 2016. Pending a few final pieces of the project, the library should open in August 2017. To keep up to date on progress toward the opening, visit the Tehama County Friends of the Library Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/TCFoL, or call (530) 529-2483.

Jenna Christophersen
About Jenna Christophersen

Jenna Christophersen is a Chico native who loves her community and can never get quite enough of the arts. She supports fostering creativity in any venue, especially as a part of young people’s daily lives.

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