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New and improved Turlock Library opens to public
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The Turlock Library is one of the warming zones open to the public during cold weather (Journal file photo).

A project over two decades in the making came to fruition this week as the newly-renovated Turlock Library officially opened to the public. 

Stanislaus County officials celebrated the completed $12.7 million project with a Grand Opening ceremony on Monday, while a ribbon cutting ceremony on Tuesday welcomed the general public through the new library doors. The new library provides 60% more space than its predecessor, going from 10,000 square feet to now 16,530 square feet of expanded indoor and outdoor children’s areas, improved spaces for teens, a makerspace complete with a 3D printer and much, much more.

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With a 60% increase in space, the new library has plenty of space for visitors of all ages.

Funding for the project came from the County budget’s Library Savings, Tobacco Endowment Funds, Public Facilities Fees, Deferred Maintenance Funds and General Funds. The dedicated sales tax for County-wide Library services contributed to the savings for this project, and the Friends of the Turlock Public Library raised more than $1 million to augment the library’s features.

“A dream has become a reality,” FOTPL President Pat Portwood said. 

Though the new library was originally slated to be completed in April 2021, work on the site began in February 2020 and the pandemic slowed construction. It’s clear that the new library was worth the wait, providing opportunities for learning at new computers and reading spaces, chances to create with sewing machines and expert-led classes in the makersroom, and a large meeting room that can hold up to 100 people. There’s even a brand new FOTPL bookstore, which will provide funds for the nonprofit. 

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One fun feature of the new library is the learning tree, where children can climb up, take a seat and read a book.

The community first began planning and hoping for a new library some 25 years ago, and the first endeavor took place in 2008 when FOTPL partnered with the Center for Public Policy Studies at Stanislaus State for a report on the value the community placed on the library and identify current and future needs. By 2015, FOTPL had pledged $25,000 toward the project. 

Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa said he first began talking with library advocates over a decade ago, and marveled at the new building during Monday’s ceremony. The Grand Opening featured sentiments from Chiesa and Portwood, along with Stanislaus County CEO Jody Hayes, COO Patricia Hill Thomas, Stanislaus County librarian Sarah Denton and the reading of a poem detailing the history of the former library and the future of the new one.

“Well, it is a beautiful summer morning. And it's been a long time coming. I don't need to tell everyone,” Chiesa said. “...we have something that will last, something we can be proud of and something that the children and adults can use for many, many years to come.”

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The library's makerspace will soon host classes and is home to sewing machines and a 3D printer.

Turlock’s first community library, a Carnegie library, was built in 1916 and served the community for more than 50 years. In 1968, the library moved to its current Minaret Avenue location, albeit into the former 10,000-square foot space. 

The new library is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. The library will be closed on Friday and Sunday.