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Community deserves a larger library, says Czopek
Children and parents make caterpillar crafts on Thursday night in the children’s section of the Turlock Library. The library, which was built in 1968, was intended to serve a population of 30,000. It now serves an area with more than 70,000 residents. - photo by ANDREA GOODWIN / The Journal
On Tuesday evening, kids crammed into the children’s section of the Turlock Library to hear a story. It was past 7 p.m., the Library’s normal closing time, but the tables in the main room of the library were still occupied by people reading books and newspapers, and every computer was in use. Even at this late hour the Library was alive with activity.
“If you go to the Turlock Library after school gets out there is no room for people to sit. There are people laying on the floor,” said County Librarian Vanessa Czopek.
The Turlock Library has outgrown its 10,000 square foot facility on Minaret Avenue. Librarians and county officials agree that the Library experiences more use than it was intended to handle.
“The Turlock Library is undersized for its population,” said Vito Chiesa, Stanislaus County District 2 supervisor.
Chiesa, along with about 15 other Turlock and Stanislaus County officials, has formed a committee to research the possibility of building a bigger library in Turlock. There are currently no funds set aside for a new library.
Chiesa said that he wanted to have a shovel-ready project planned out in the event that stimulus funds became available.
“I just want to be ready. I just want to make sure Turlock is in line for those funds,” Chiesa said.
When the Turlock Library was dedicated in November of 1968, it was intended to serve a population of up to 36,000 people. That included residents of Turlock, outlying rural populations, and several small communities in northern Merced County.
According to the Stanislaus County Library’s latest profile on the Turlock Library, the library is now serving a population of over 70,000 people. The facility on Minaret Avenue housed a collection of 50,000 volumes when it first opened. It now holds a collection of almost 88,000 items.
County Librarian Vanessa Czopek said that the current Turlock Library is lacking a community meeting room or an area big enough for children’s programs.
“We are using every square foot of the current library to the maximum,” said councilman Kurt Spycher.
The library location committee, which does not have an official name, has held two meetings. Spycher said that it is very early on in the planning stage, and the committee is still brainstorming ideas for possible locations for a new library.
The group is considering several existing locations, including the police station on Starr Avenue. The building will be vacated when the new Public Safety Facility is built. The current police station is within walking distance of several schools, a key feature in the location of a new library. Spycher said that the ideal size for a new library would be about 30,000 square feet.
The committee is also considering the possibility of building a new library, or expanding the library at its current location, according to Chiesa. For the time being, however, there are no funds available for expansion.
“Keeping libraries at the current day schedule is a challenge. Expanding on that right now would be almost impossible,” Chiesa said.
Czopek said that the Stanislaus County Library system is funded by a one eighth of a cent sales tax. That money is not coming in the way it used to because of the recession, said Czopek. The Stanislaus County Library has experienced a system wide reduction in open hours and number of staff members. If the funding were available, however, Czopek said that the Stanislaus County Library would like to expand its Turlock branch.
“I think the community deserves a larger library,” Czopek said.
To contact Andrea Goodwin, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2003.