A different library
On the Bright Side
September 3, 2022
I used to love to go to the library when I was a kid. I have vivid memories of several libraries, but the one I remember most and best was the one I used as a teenager in Chariton, Iowa. It was an old brick building with lots of oak inside and a polished floor that echoed when a person walked on it or when a wooden chair was scooted around. A sort of reverent silence was closely guarded by the librarian.
Today's libraries are typically more modern than those of my youth – and not always as quiet – but I love them just the same. They may have more carpeting now, and more metal shelves, but they are still full of books. Computers are now in use where we had the card catalog system (housed in long slender wooden drawers so many years ago), and racks of books on tape and DVDs are further signs of the newer times.
Sometimes these days I can even check out books from the library online, a new experience for me for sure, but one I appreciate when I can't get into a real building. Then again, a library is primarily a place of stories and words and ideas and history, and that does not change no matter what the outer dressing or location or accouterments might be.
I had yet another kind of library experience lately when I visited the Stallion Spring Library. It surely must be "one of Tehachapi's best kept secrets," as described by Patti Teague, one of the local volunteers.
Located at 20030 Pellisier Rd., in the midst of produce fields and hot houses in Cummings Valley (near the Grimmway Greenhouse), the community library is housed in the old Bornt Farm building. When originally put up, the building held not only office space but also bedrooms for field crews, a bathroom with a shower, and a full kitchen.
Purchased later by the Stallion Springs Community Services District, the building was cleaned out and repaired and repainted a couple of years ago to become a library. Now thanks to the CSD and a number of volunteers, the library is currently open to the public three days a week.
Each room in the building houses different kinds of books (how-to, self-help, fiction, non-fiction, children's, etc.), all marked clearly. The books in each room are arranged alphabetically by author, then alphabetically again by title. The library also offers a wide variety of videos, DVDs, puzzles, and games.
In addition, there are plenty of comfy chairs available for your reading pleasure, and tables to work on, and computers to use for research. Local art decorates the walls in the main rooms.
What there is not is a check-out desk, and you don't need a library card. And that's what makes this library so unique: it exists solely on the honor system. All books, puzzles, videos, etc. are donated, and when you find a book you want to read, you can just take it with you. You can return it when you're done with it, or you can keep it or pass it on. No one keeps track.
Note: there is also no card catalog system, so if you're looking for something specific you just search for it, but as I noted above, the books are arranged alphabetically in sections.
And when the library has too much of a good thing, especially too many duplicate books, they put the books up for sale for 25 cents each. How can you go wrong with a deal like that?
I was there one Saturday afternoon and Joan Cote and Patti were the two volunteers on duty that day, ready to assist with book searches or answers to questions. Volunteers run the place and open the doors Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturdays noon to 3 p.m. The phone number is 661-822-4003.
I love books, and I love reading, and I really love discovering new libraries, especially ones like the Stallion Springs Library. It's very different than the libraries of my youth, but the spirit and the raison d'etre is still the same.
Stop in and check it out if you're out that way or better yet, make a special trip to stock up on your reading supplies or jigsaw puzzles. And, if you're so inclined, remember the Stallion Springs Library when you want to donate your overstock of books or puzzles or DVDs.
© 2022 Mel White/Mel Makaw. Mel, Tehachapi writer/photographer and avid reader, has been looking on the bright side for various publications since 1996. She welcomes your comments at email@example.com.