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Turlock celebrates library groundbreaking
Turlock library groundbreaking
The first shovels of dirt were turned on Saturday as the work toward building a new and larger library in Turlock got underway at a groundbreaking ceremony on Saturday (Photo by Laura Ferrell).

For more than two decades supporters of the Turlock Library have been waiting for the day when the community would get a newer and better facility. On Saturday, the day finally arrived.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new Turlock library was held Saturday, bringing in local city and county officials, community members and library pioneers, who have been striving for a new library for more than 25 years.

“I make very few promises… and this was a promise I made at the start of my third term,” Stanislaus County Supervisor Vito Chiesa said at Saturday’s ceremony. “It’s been far too long of a process… but it’s finally here.”

“It feels fantastic,” said Turlock resident Pat Hickman, one of the first members of the Friends of the Turlock Public Library. “I thought this day might never happen, but it’s finally here.”

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors approved the library project in November 2019, with a budget of $12.7 million. The new library will include a community room for library programs and public meetings, an expanded children’s library with adjacent children’s garden, an improved teen area, space for Turlock Friends of the Library, a maker’s space and a quiet reading room. Study rooms, a flexible programming space, and an enclosed courtyard will provide additional uses for the new facility. The library will grow from 10,000 square feet to 16,530 square feet.

The renovated Turlock library will offer Google Chromebooks for checkout and use within the library, and passport application acceptance services, which are currently only available at the Modesto and Salida branches.

The current Turlock library was built in 1968, for an anticipated population of 30,000. While the city’s population has reached an estimated 72,000, the library has not been able to grow with it. The current library facility has no dedicated meeting rooms or space for library programming, such as children’s story times and informational presentations for consumers. The work to build a bigger library for the community has been the long-held dream for several of the first members of the Friends of the Turlock Public Library and the organization’s President Pat Portwood made sure to thank those pioneers for their dedication to the project.

“This has been a real practice of patience and perseverance,” Portwood said. “This is a real accomplishment.”

The majority of the funding for the library will come from a loan from the Tobacco Endowment Fund for $6.3 million. Additional funding comes from the library fund balance ($3.5 million); public facility fees ($1.1 million); general fund deferred maintenance of $500,000, which was already set aside for replacing the air conditioning and heating; and $1.3 from the general fund.

The construction cost is around $10 million, which includes the building of it, all the interior, including furnishings and technology, and any project contingencies. Roebbelen Contracting Inc. out of El Dorado Hills will complete the design and build phases of the project.

The library will be closed during construction, though a pop-up option will be open in the Turlock Senior Center, located across the parking lot from the library. The library will close on March 14. The pop-up library will be used for customers to place and pick up holds and for story times for children. Story times for babies, toddlers and preschoolers are scheduled from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays at the Turlock Senior Center. Pop-up hours will be from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The book drops at the library will remain in operation.

Closing the library during construction saves more than $800,000 and cuts about seven months from the timeline, according to Stanislaus County Assistant Executive Officer and Chief Operations Officer Patricia Hill Thomas.

The public is encouraged to visit nearby libraries during Turlock’s temporary closure:

·     -    Denair Library, 4801 Kersey Road, Denair, CA 95316 (5 miles)

·     -   Keyes Library, 4420 Maud Avenue, Keyes, CA 95328 (6 miles)

·     -    Hughson Library, 2412 A Third Street, Hughson, CA 95326 (8 miles)

·    -     Ceres Library, 2250 Magnolia, Ceres, CA 95307 (10 miles)