The Tehama County Library has had many homes since it was established in 1916. It was first housed in the I.O.O.F. building at the corner of Washington and Oak streets, and was known as the Tehama County Free Library. In 1923 it moved to the basement of the Tehama County Courthouse. Then in 1959 it moved to the Forward Building on Washington Street, behind the Tremont Hotel. It merged with the Herbert Kraft Free Library in 1962 and moved to the Kraft Library building at 909 Jefferson Street. In 1986 it moved to 645 Madison Street. The Library has seen many changes during its extensive history. Soon after its creation, many branch libraries and stations were opened in outlying areas of the county. With the advent of modern transportation however, these numerous branches became more centralized. The Vanderlip Library was started by the Los Molinos Women’s Club in 1912, and became the first branch of the County Library system in 1917. The Carnegie Public Library opened in 1915 in Corning. It joined the Tehama County Free Library in 1955, and became the Corning Branch Library. The Herbert Kraft Free Library was built in 1909 and served the City of Red Bluff for many years. It merged with the Tehama County Free Library in 1962.
By 1985, the library collection had exceeded the available space in the Kraft Library building. In fact, 80% of the collection was stored in a warehouse. Expansion of the Kraft building was explored but wasn’t feasible because the building needed serious renovation. There were plans in place to move into a larger facility that would house the entire collection under one roof when the County cut the Library budget by 2/3rds, forcing the layoff of all but six staff members and the closure of all but the Red Bluff headquarters, the Corning Branch and the Los Molinos Branch Libraries.
Soon after this budget cut, the Board of Supervisors approved that move. The new library building was originally built in the mid-1960’s and was a Safeway grocery store. The County obtained the services of a local architect, Gene McFarren, to renovate this building. The remaining staff members coordinated the move to the current library building with extensive public support, the help of the Tehama County Friends of the Library group (established in 1965), over 80 volunteers, the County Maintenance Department, and trustees from the jail. A grand opening celebration was held in September 1986.
In August of 2017 the Red Bluff Library relocated to 545 Diamond Avenue. The Diamond Avenue location was once the home of the Red Bluff Daily News. It was extensively remodeled and the new to the library building was a welcome change.
Continued support and donations from local organizations and from grants have helped the Library to grow and flourish. Technology had advanced rapidly in the last twenty years. When once everything was done by hand and with the use of a typewriter, there are now computers. The Library purchased its first computer in the early 1980’s, and now has computers in all branches. Its entire collection of over 100,000 books is contained on a computer database, and all branches are linked by an automated circulation system. The “card catalog” is now on computer, available at each branch, and via the Internet from home. Computers are now available as well for public use.
The Library continues to function as a resource center, incorporating information that is found in books with that available on the Internet, and to serve the public to the best of its ability.
The mission of the Tehama County Library is to maintain and improve the quality of life for all citizens of our community by providing resources that enhance and contribute to individual knowledge, enlightenment, and enjoyment in the most efficient manner possible. We especially recognize our responsibility to serve as an archive for the rich historical resources of our area and as a place for children to discover the joy of reading and the value of libraries.