By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
County Librarian Updates Council
Placeholder Image
Stanislaus County Librarian Vanessa Czopek appeared before the Riverbank City Council recently to give her annual report and remind citizens the county library system draws 84 percent of its funding from a one-eighth cent sales tax that will need renewal in 2013.

At about $20 per household per year contributed in sales tax, the library is a great bargain, she argued. In return for that $20, county residents have free access to more than 781,000 books, magazines, newspapers, audio books, videos and DVDs valued at $19 million. Sixty nine percent of residents hold library cards. During the last fiscal year they checked out more than two million items at 13 library branches throughout the county.

Libraries are more important to the community and busier than ever in these difficult economic times, she said, as people use their free services to prepare applications and search for jobs, expand their knowledge and skills or simply find pleasure in learning.

During 2010 to 2011, the Riverbank library was open 38 hours per week, held story time once a week, offered special children's programs such as puppet shows, storytellers and crafts projects, offered visits to school classes, provided eight public Internet stations, made teen services available, and offered reference services via visits or telephone, fax and email.

Riverbank branch manager Victoria Holt Angulo came to the podium to note her library will offer computer classes like "Internet Basics" and "Beginning Word" in English this month at 2:30 p.m. on Mondays, Nov. 14 and Nov. 21 and in Spanish on Saturdays, Nov. 5 and Nov. 19. Participants must register in advance.

There is also a Paper Turkey Craft class slated for 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16.

Local businessman Daryl Daniel commented he has Internet access at his restaurant but the library's machines are so much faster he walks a block down the street to use them.

The Riverbank library at 3442 Santa Fe (cross of Fifth Street) is open Monday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from noon until 5 p.m. It is closed on Friday and Sunday. The telephone number is 869-7008.

Countywide, library system customers last year used library system computers 212,520 times to do research, search for employment or apply for benefits online. Many also used the library's free wireless Internet service through their own web-enabled laptops or smart phones.

Czopek told the story of one young man who wanted to prepare a resume but was so clumsy on the computer he took several hours at his first try. Asked for help, the librarian was able to give him lots of her time and help because there were few other customers that day and he learned to prepare a resume in 10 minutes. He returned a few weeks later to announce he had found a job as an electrician and to present the librarian with two red roses.

In another anecdote, she spoke of a boy who stuttered badly when he became nervous. Allocated a specially trained therapy dog, he was encouraged to read to the animal that sat calmly facing him. He was beginning to stammer on reaching a difficult passage when the dog, while continuing to eye him, laid a reassuring paw on his knee at which the boy recovered his composure and went back to reading without any problem.

The Riverbank Library was first established in 1913 in the Mission Shop but moved into a new building now adjacent to City Hall North and financed with a $3,000 Carnegie grant in 1921. In 1978 the library was relocated to the current facility that is dedicated to Florence Wilson Bessac, who with her husband published The Riverbank News for more than 50 years.

The current library covers 3,594 square feet and last year cost $279,667 to run. Costs included salaries for a manager, library assistant, administrative clerk and part-time page, services, supplies, collection materials, county costs, building upkeep and overhead charges.