Tulare County Library shines amid National Library Week

Board of Supervisors recognize Tulare County Library for National Library Week, celebrate its dedication to promoting literacy and education amongst community through programs

(Karis Caddell)
(Karis Caddell)
Karis Caddell
Published March 28, 2024  • 
2:00 pm

VISALIA – The Tulare County Board of Supervisors have celebrated the impact the county library has made on Tulare County’s story so far by recognizing it during National Library Week, as well as listening to the library staff’s programs they are using to create more local book worms.

On March 26, the Board of Supervisors recognized the Tulare County Library Staff for their services in promoting education and literacy throughout the county. Chairman Larry Micari presented the staff with a certificate after the board heard a presentation on the library’s current progress and programs.

“We’re going to recognize the week of April 7th through the 13th as National Library Week in Tulare County. … This year, Tulare County Library celebrates 113 years from service,” Micari said. “Libraries are a public good and…work to improve society, protect the right to education and literacy, and promote the free exchange of information and ideas for all and the community.”

During the presentation, library staff members Elaine Gilden, Amy King and Darla Wegener broke down all of the library’s goals for the year, along with what programs they had in place to achieve them. Other staff members also showed up to represent the Tulare County Library.

According to the staff, many of the available programs and resources in the Tulare County Library are focused on helping kids improve literacy and education. These programs have the potential to make a significant difference given the widespread reach of the Tulare County Library.

The Tulare County Library operates branches in 17 communities, including the largest unincorporated population centers in Alpaugh, Earlimart, Ivanhoe, Orosi, London, Pixley, Springville, Strathmore, Terra Bella, Three Rivers and Tipton. Every city in Tulare County also has a library with county branches in Exeter, Farmersville, Dinuba, Lindsay, Visalia and Woodlake. 

Programs that focus on the literacy of children are especially important for the long-term wellbeing of the county’s population. Stu­dents who don’t read pro­fi­cient­ly by third grade are four times more like­ly to leave high school with­out a diplo­ma than pro­fi­cient read­ers, accord­ing to a study funded by The Annie E. Casey Foundation, a national nonprofit focused on improving the well-being of American children and youth.

One of the mentioned programs through the Tulare County Library branches includes the library lunches, which the library hosts in collaboration with Farm to Table. This program provides lunch to kids and teenagers either in the library or in the community. While the library hosts these lunches, the staff provides library services and resources to the kids who attend.

According to the presentation, out of the 27,270 people who are registered borrowers of the library, 4,410 of them are children under the age of 14. Out of the 251,000 items that people can borrow, 80,226 of them are targeted towards kids and 13,857 are for young adults.

More programs that are not strictly for kids but are meant to help increase the literacy of children are the summer and winter reading challenges the library has, as well as its language expansion program. 

“This (the language expansion program) is a critical piece that I want to bring into the county because, until you can read and write your own language, it is difficult to learn a new language,” Wegener said. “Our Spanish language collection has gotten some really good books, because we have a couple of Spanish readers, as well as some other people who like fiction and nonfiction that we might not have thought of.”

While recognizing National Library Week, the Board of Supervisors also took time to thank the Tulare County Library staff, and commented on the ways they believe the library has helped the community.

“I definitely want to help you to promote library usage throughout the county, but certainly in more rural areas, because it really is amazing (for) residents, kids, adults,” Supervisor Pete Vander Poel said.

Supervisor Eddie Valero also noted the ways he observed the library is making an impact, saying he had been to the library in Ivanhoe and that he personally saw the difference they were making when he went to visit the arts and crafts nights for seniors.

Chairman Micari told the presenting library members, “You and your staff are continuing to keep our libraries up to date and open, accessible to the public. I just want to say thank you, and it’s amazing, keep up the great work.”

Karis Caddell