Most informed Tehama County residents know about the plans to tear down the Red Bluff branch of the library and to construct a jail in its place. I want to start by saying that I understand the great cost that will be saved by having the jail next to the courthouse (transportation, time, etc.). I am also not against having the library moved to a new location. Having grown up with the Herbert Kraft Library, I am not particularly attached to "the old Safeway building." It looks like...well, it looks like the old Safeway building to me, not a library. Personally, I wish that the library had never left the old location. I have always felt that the Herbert Kraft Library could have served as a wonderful children's library, a kid's retreat into a world of books offering year round activities, summer reading camps, weekly story readings to children and families…the possibilities might have been endless. Instead, we moved out of a beautiful, historic building, lost the right to keep it and it reverted to the Kraft heirs. Yes, I am well aware that it was too small to house all of the books and that is why it was vacated, but it was a free building that could have served a valuable purpose to our children. As the song says: don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you got 'til it's gone. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot. Regardless of that,
here we are facing the prospect of moving books again, but to where? That is the question.
I am troubled that I am hearing more plans about how the jail expansion will come about than where the new library will be located and how it will be funded. I am concerned that the jail will take precedence over the need for a library and that any building in any location will do for housing books. It is my hope that the county puts as much thoughtful effort into funding and placing the new library as it will with funding the new jail. What will it say of Red Bluff if we move our library to the side of town so that it is not easily accessible to foot traffic? (Consider this---how is the new Shasta College location working for those who need to walk to classes? How safe are pedestrians on Diamond Road?)
Much like parents who regularly model reading books in front of their children, the county must place its library in a central location if children are to value it. Features in the middle of a town reflect values…this is why the clocktower was replaced. Replacing the library with a jail without giving the library a better location will tell children what is most important…and perhaps what we expect for their future. This is why I believe the library should be in a central location in downtown Red Bluff where the maximum number of people will drive by it, walk by it, and use it as a landmark to describe the placement of other locations. A library should be one of the highest priorities to our county because as an institution of learning, it represents education, and this will be the means that some local children use to break free
from a generational cycle of incarceration.
And yes, in case you are wondering…books have the power to do that.