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Turlock couple’s gift to expand ag focus at university library
Artists sought for mural project
university library
This artist rendering shows Stanislaus State’s newly-remodeled library that is expected be complete in the summer of 2021.

Turlockers John and Jeani Ferrari have once again given back to the community — this time, through a generous donation to Stanislaus State’s remodeled library.

The Ferraris contributed $250,000 to the renovation of the J. Burton Vasché Library Building, which will be used to provide long-term benefits to the university and Turlock as a whole. The library closed after spring 2019 finals for renovations and is intended to be complete by summer 2021.

Beyond the naming of the library’s new main foyer in the couple’s honor and a two-story agriculture-themed mural to be painted alongside the grand staircase, the Ferraris hope to strengthen the university’s relationship with the community through their donation by raising awareness and acting on the importance of farmland preservation and the region’s sustainable resources.

The couple seeks to develop programming that will feature author talks, book signings and other events aimed at strengthening collaboration between the university and Turlock Library. Art, vignettes, photos, stories, furnishings and other creative media will also express the community and university’s commitment to preserving the region’s most-fertile farmland and vital natural resources.

“The University always has recognized the value of agriculture in our region, in our community and as a part of the lives of many of our students,” President Ellen Junn said. “We are so grateful for this generous gift from the Ferraris. It will allow us to further explore this vital industry through programming and exhibits. And it will bring people together to strengthen the bond the University has with the community.”

Feedback gathered at open campus sessions and surveys in 2017 led the renovation design team to prioritize adding a 24-7 study area, an event center, a café, more group study rooms and quiet areas.

The University serves more than 10,000 students, only 620 of whom could be seated in the library before. The renovated space will accommodate more than 1,000 users in a mix of quiet zones and active areas. An elevator rising all three stories tops a list of accessibility improvements and a gender-neutral restroom with full-height partitions will welcome all visitors.

Downstairs, a help counter will border the lobby and the circulation desk will face the stacks. Group study tables will cluster around the ground floor café. A 100-seat event center will offer flexible performance and speaker space. Up the main staircase, visitors will walk past railings circling cutouts that allow light from clerestory windows to flood the lobby below. Beyond, banks of computer desks, tutoring services and study rooms will fill a quieter space. 

The Ferraris are no strangers to supporting the advancement of libraries; Jeani Ferrari served on Stanislaus State’s University Library Renovation Committee as John served on the Turlock Library Committee, which was organized by the Friends of the Turlock Library to discuss whether to remodel and re-purpose the current library, or build an entirely new one. The Ferraris have donated to that cause as well and construction is also underway.

“We saw the opportunity for a community platform for lectures and programming; the connecting point being the Stan State Library and Turlock Library,” the Ferraris said in announcing their donation. “We hope the gift we are making to Stan State will bring our community together to learn about our natural landscape and our region’s man-made landscape, which is agriculture. We hope that programs, lectures and the arts can educate and illustrate the importance of agriculture to our region, state and world and the urgency of preserving it.”

The renovated Vasché Library will center around agriculture — from its design to the use of sustainable furniture — and a portion of the Ferrari’s gift will be used to fund an ag-themed, two-story mural that will greet visitors upon the building’s completion. Proposals for the Grand Staircase mural are currently being accepted at

According to the proposal site, the mural should reflect the theme through the unique landscape of the San Joaquin Valley’s farmland and proposals should demonstrate the wealth of the region’s natural resources as well as the diversity of agricultural production.

Once completed next summer, it is the university’s hope that the new, $58 million library will not only celebrate the agricultural landscape in which we reside, but also foster an enhanced learning environment and technology hub that will grow over time.