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Book sale helps keep library open in budget-strapped times
library pic1
Dozens of people browse tables stacked with books at the annual Friends of the Turlock Library book sale on Thursday. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

If electronic readers are supposed to be the demise of printed books, then someone forgot to tell the throngs of people waiting in line outside the Friends of the Turlock Library annual book sale.

When the doors opened for the first night of the sale a swarm of book dealers, avid readers and bibliophiles fell upon the tables stacked high with books on parenting, biographies and everything in between.

Lindsey Hector has been attending the annual sale for three years. This year she made the trip down from her home in the foothills to browse through the various titles in parenting, gardening and literature.

“It’s fun to just look through them all,” Hector said. “You can find some really unique books here.”

Approaching it like a treasure hunt was Turlock-based book dealer Jerry Hejka-ekins, who was looking to stock up his inventory that he sells online.

“I’m getting whatever catches my eye,” Hejka-ekins said as he added another book to his brimming basket. “I’ve been coming here for a lot of years and I still find lots of titles I’ve never seen before.”

The Friends of the Turlock Library sells the majority of the books for $1 and under, but all those sales add up. The group averages about $5,000 in funds raised, the majority of which goes to help the library cover the costs of programs and materials.

Groups like the Friends of the Turlock Library play an essential role in the overall financial health of Stanislaus County’s libraries, especially in these times of budget belt-tightening. The money raised from book sales and donations, along with fines, account for 5 percent of Stanislaus County’s annual library budget, covering all 13 branches.

The majority of Stanislaus County’s library system is funded through the 1/8-cent sales tax dedicated to the library, which is in effect until June 30, 2013. The tax covers 84 percent of the budget.

The Friends of the Turlock Library, along with other groups, are planning a major campaign push to encourage Stanislaus County voters to extend the tax.

“If the tax doesn’t pass, we will see libraries close because it’s just too big of a loss to try and cover,” said Friends of the Turlock Library President Pat Hickman. “In the past it has passed with well over the required majority and we’re looking forward to Turlock coming out again and supporting the library.”

A look at the numbers shows the vitality of the libraries in Stanislaus County. Sixty-nine percent of the county’s residents have library cards and last year they collectively checked out 2.2 million items, according to the library system’s data.

In Turlock, 75 percent of the residents have library cards and are able to peruse a collection valued at more than $2 million.

The Friends of the Turlock Library book sale continues from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today at the First United Methodist Church at 1660 Arbor Way.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.