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Sunday, Apr 14 2013 11:00 PM

MARIA RUTLEDGE: After 25 great years, Beale Library deserves a big shindig

By The Bakersfield Californian

Twenty-five years ago, the citizens of Kern County eagerly welcomed the opening of a bigger and better equipped central library -- the "new" Beale Memorial Library at 701 Truxtun Ave. The 127,000-square-foot facility featured a landscaped atrium with a pool fountain, an auditorium complete with audiovisual equipment and seating for 300 people, art pieces by famed California artists and many other features that made it the envy of the rest of the Central Valley. On March 30, 1989, Fresno Bee columnist Jim Wasserman wrote, "I've just stumbled across the finest, most beautiful county library in California, maybe even the nation, and it's not in San Francisco, Santa Monica or Los Angeles. It's in Bakersfield."

Fast-forward 25 years. Its mode of service delivery has changed with the inclusion of electronic services and resources, educational toys for young children, and computer instruction, yet Beale Library has remained unfazed. It continues to be the place for lifelong learning, community connection and cultural awareness -- a place that is free and open to everyone. What better way, then, to mark 25 years than to highlight this role by offering 25 programs?

From 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday, April 20, librarians, private individuals, community organizations and local establishments will provide a variety of learning opportunities, 25 to be exact, at the Beale Library. This half-day event will showcase community collaboration, inspire learning and provide creative fun for all.

The 25 workshops will be divided into five zones; each zone will feature five programs, one every hour on the hour. The Health & Wellness Zone, in the Beale Library auditorium, will include a tai chi class led by Dr. Sharon Zhang, meditation yoga led by Dr. Anil Mehta of Chinmaya Mission Bakersfield, a session on Ayurveda by Dr. Naina Patel, a session by Kaiser Permanente on understanding food labels and making smart food choices, and a presentation by Bike Bakersfield on the joys and benefits of biking, bike safety, maintenance, routes and events in Kern County.

A host of fun and educational activities are also in store for families. The Family Zone in the Arkelian children's room will start off with Terrific Tales Story Time by Children's Librarian Sherry Wade, followed by a science activity led by the Kern Astronomical Society. Kids and parents will learn how a telescope works, how to make a planisphere and a sundial, and experience safe solar viewing. This workshop will be followed by the library's version of the hit reality show "The Amazing Race." The first five families to reach the finish line will each receive a prize. The Family Zone will also host a basic American Sign Language class by faculty members of Bakersfield College, and Lego creative play.

The northwest corner of the first floor will house the Crafts Zone and will introduce participants to interesting hobbies and crafts: beaded jewelry, recycled crafts to dress up your garden, scrapbooking, repurposing old denim jeans, and front-door wreaths on a shoestring. The projects completed by presenters in these workshops will be given away as door prizes.

Interested in the arts? Visit the Arts Zone in the Tejon Room on the second floor. There will be basic workshops on drawing anime and manga by artist Crystal Appleton, writing flash fiction by writer Suzie Wade, and guitar chords by Front Porch Music. Want to learn more about the sculptures and paintings housed at the Beale Library? Then, join the art tour with Vikki Cruz, curator of the Bakersfield Museum of Art. After that, explore musica latina via the Smithsonian Institution's virtual exhibition, "Musica del Pueblo."

Get the most out of the library's 24/7 resource. The eLibrary Zone in the Gates computer lab will host workshops on how to use EBSCOhost for school research, access e-reference books, download e-books and e-audiobooks, search for grants and research your ancestry.

So, mark your calendar for April 20. Connect with people in your community, learn new things and discover the best deal in town! All workshops are free. For more information, call the Beale Library at 868-0745.

Maria Rutledge is the branch supervisor for the Beale Memorial Library.

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