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Generous donation propels goal of new Turlock library forward
ferrari library donation pic
Jeani and John Ferrari made a matching donation of $25,000 to the Friends of the Turlock Public Librarys campaign to build a new library for the community. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

The goal of building a bigger library for the Turlock community took a big step forward Tuesday when Turlock residents John and Jeani Ferrari made a donation to the fund established by the Friends of the Turlock Public Library that doubled the amount raised.

The Friends of the Turlock Public Library planted the initial seed money for a new library with a $25,000 pledge, which was matched by the Ferraris on Tuesday, making for a grand total that is just over $50,000.

“I’m so excited that we have got the wheels in motion,” said FOTPL President Jackie Oyer. “We have such a need for a new library in Turlock. We are bursting at the seams here.”

The Friends of the Turlock Public Library hope to raise enough funds to either relocate the Turlock library to a new and bigger site, or expand the footprint of the library’s current site on Minaret Avenue.

“We are in year one of a five-year plan and our primary goal for year one is to find a perfect spot for our library,” Oyer said. “Hopefully in five years time we will all be meeting again to dedicate a new library.”

Striving for a new library that will better serve the community is a goal that the Ferraris felt comfortable getting behind, because the library has played a key role in the upbringing of their family.

“The Turlock Public Library has been a big part of the Ferrari family,” Jeani Ferrari wrote in an email interview. “We are a family of book lovers and serious readers.  When the children were small, well, specifically Justin and Damon, we went to the library one night a week after dinner.  It was a part of our family schedule.  Paige was born in 1982 and by the time she was a reader (age 4), Justin was heading off to college and Damon was eleven years old. Ferrari family library night had ended and I was making day trips to the public library with Paige. She was a voracious reader, starting Kindergarten as a reader and heading off to the third grade reading program every day. Paige's love of books, words and writing has continued her entire life.”

Turlock’s library was dedicated in 1968 and served a much smaller population than the more than 70,000 people that call it home now. The Turlock branch of the library has the second highest circulation rate, according to Turlock Librarian Diane Bartlett. In addition to meeting the needs of the Turlock community, it is also a regional library, meaning it supports the programs of four of the smaller libraries in the county.

A study commissioned in 2008 by the Center for Public Policy Studies at California State University, Stanislaus found that the town had outgrown the library and that the facility was in need of more computers, a separate meeting room, a larger children’s section and a dedicated study room.

Little has changed for the Turlock library since the study was published, but Stanislaus County Board of Supervisor Vito Chiesa is hopeful that the renewed enthusiasm for a new facility will translate into financial support at the county level.

“To get this project going it will take a commitment from the city, but more importantly the people have to believe in it and get behind it,” Chiesa said at the presentation of the donation. “I’ve been patient, but I’m not going to be patient anymore… it’s time to invest in Turlock.”

Stanislaus County Library Director Diane McDonnell explained there are a few different funding options the county could look into in down the line as the project advances.

“We have to grow with the community,” McDonnell said. “The important thing is that we are moving in the right direction.”

The Friends of the Turlock Public Library have formed a committee comprised of community members, as well as city and county officials who are looking at potential sites and their feasibility.

“John and I hope our matching gift will encourage others in the community to support an expansion of the library,” Jeani Ferrari said. “Realistically, it seems a new sight might be a lofty goal. However, a newly established library committee will explore all options and John is looking forward to serving on that committee. As the library is a county facility, John and I are encouraged by the support Supervisor Vito Chiesa brings to the committee. This seems like the right time for successful campaign for an expanded Turlock public library.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the new library fund can do so at the donation station at the library or through the mail at Friends of the Turlock Public Library, P.O. Box 1260, Turlock, Ca. 95381.