History of the Eleanor N. Wilson Branch Library
The Eleanor N. Wilson Branch Library was the first library branch in Kern County to be constructed with the aid of federal funds, the first full-service branch added in metropolitan Bakersfield in 40 years, and the first Kern County Library to have fully-carpeted public areas. Originally named South Bakersfield Branch, the facility opened on May 12, 1970. The branch offered fully library services, including books and periodicals, reference services, microfilm readers, copy machine, weekly story hour, displays and exhibits, and a community meeting room for 30 persons. Eleven years later, when the new Southwest Branch Library opened, it was deemed appropriate to change the name of South Bakersfield Branch to Wilson Road Branch to avoid confusion. The renaming was approved by the Kern County Board of Supervisors on November 24, 1981. In the same year, the branch was chosen to house a collection of new books in various Asian languages, which the library had acquired from the Asian Shared Information and Acquisitions (ASIA) project of the South State Cooperative Library System. The project made available 4,000 new Asian Language titles among 13 participating libraries, through funding from the Library Services and Construction Act. Ten years later, on April 2, 1992, the library’s name was changed to Eleanor N. Wilson Library, to honor the woman who served as County Librarian from 1942 to 1967. The tribute is fitting, because her efforts paved the way for the construction and establishment of this very branch. Today, several landscape paintings she created adorn the walls of the branch. In 2008, the Wilson Branch Library saw several improvements, including new flooring, an accessible ramp from the parking area to the main door, and the acquisition of materials through the Early Learning for Families (ELF) Grant.