The Shafter Library & Learning Center is located in Shafter, California, and provides the local community with a wide array of classes, as well as access to computers, books, and other resources. They support the local population, 84% of whom are Latinx and many of whom speak English as a second language, with everything from first grade classes through adulthood job readiness, literacy, computers, STEM, and skilled trade and vocational education.
GAF, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, has two plants in Shafter and as a proud member of the community wanted to help the Learning Center expand and improve its patron experience.
In September 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic hit, GAF and Project for Public Spaces led a public workshop and celebration event to engage with the community and gather valuable input and ideas, in the very lot that would soon be home to the Learning Center’s expansion. The event was a resounding success attended by over 350 Shafter residents. Together, members of the community, from kids to youth and adults, reviewed alternative designs for the addition, and brainstormed the most attractive and needed new programs and classes, facility improvements, and more.
Project for Public Spaces supported the implementation of the community's vision from start to finish, including leading the bid process to select site and building construction contractors, managing construction, and coordinating between the many partners.
Over 50 GAF employees were involved with the planning and execution of this project. Through a series of volunteer days, employees donated their time for painting, assembling furniture, planting, and other beautification efforts to get the site ready. The team got creative with some of the resources donated to the space by using modular construction techniques for the classrooms, hiring a local artist to paint murals, and using GAF's own pavement coating products to create a decorative mural designed by Project for Public Spaces' Director of Design Practice Alessandra Galletti. In a special effort to finish the space, their coatings team traveled to volunteer and place the pavement coating themselves.
Altogether, the improvements dramatically increased the Shafter Library & Learning Center capacity to serve local patrons—double the number of people can now use the facilities. The new Children’s Reading Room, a place to play games and build with Legos, is now a favorite after-school hangout for local kids. Parents with young children also love gathering there in the mornings, drawn in by the room’s natural light and child-friendly furniture. The new classroom allows the Shafter Library & Learning Center to offer more classes after school and during the summer.
The library’s outdoor area also underwent a colorful transformation. The parking lot is now a plaza—replete with great seating, tables, and greenery—where people can study or relax. There are also tables equipped for a makerspace to take the Learnings Center’s classes outdoors!
David Franz, Director of Education Partnership for the City of Shafter, says that after the March 2022 ribbon cutting, a spring transformation was in the air. For example, he noticed a college student drop off her sister for a class. The student was so impressed with the new space that she decided to make it her regular study location. On another occasion, a preschool-aged child walked by the library with his mother and siblings on their way to school. David saw the child hugging the wall with the mural. The reason? “His mother said he does this everyday because he likes the mural so much.”
“The success of this project was only possible because of our partners at Project for Public Spaces and GAF,” says Franz.