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Ripon Library offers more than just books

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Ripon Library offers more than just books

A Ripon mom, Bronwyn Escola, reads the book “Merry Christmas Stinky Face” in the children’s section of the Ripon Library to her daughters Taryn, 6, and Danika, 4 ½.

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

POSTED March 2, 2012 8:31 p.m.

RIPON — The Ripon Branch Library is seen as an awesome find for residents who have yet to walk through its doors with its 15,000 square feet of floor space and some 40,000 books, 18 computers along with a spacious children’s section.

Librarian Melinda Kopp has been in the library field for some 30 years – 15 of those years with the Boston Public Library after growing up in Modesto.  She said her mentor in the field was Sally Beecher, a supervisor in the East Coast facility.

Both parents were equally influential, she said.  Both parents read a lot as did her sister Lucinda who became a librarian in Wyoming.  Another important influence in her early life was a Mrs. Thornburg at the Modesto Library when she would often visit in her own preschool days.

“As children, we spent a lot of time there.  She was an adult and I respected her very much.  She would share books with us making sure that certain books got into our hands and became part of our lives,” Kopp said.

She remembers as a youngster reading Beatrix Potter Books and stories like “Snip, Snap and Snur,” along with a variety of fairy tales and folk lore.

Kopp spoke highly of her staff that includes several part-time substitutes and a volunteer core group of 10 devoted workers covering the branch’s 40-hour week.

“I just love my job and I love being in Ripon,” she said.

Assistant Librarian Tara Gallegos is a young mother with a bachelor’s degree in English and a love for books. 

“Reading is priceless,” she emphasized.

Tara had intended to go into journalism and worked for a short time at the Oakdale Leader after college but instead opted for a career in the library service to the betterment of the community.

“What is really important about libraries is that people generally don’t know how to find the information they need,” she noted.  “The Internet is not always a true source – you can find what you need but not know it’s correct.”

Tara credited her grandfather, Jim Renfroe of Escalon, as being an important part of her growing up and showing her what was right with the world.  And now her 4-year-old daughter Gabriella loves her grandpa just as much, she said.

Still very active he was a social worker for the state and practiced in the Ventura area south of Santa Barbara.

“He has always tried to live a good life and is one who goes out of his way for others and now in his mid-80s,” she said.  “Generally he has heart for others and especially for his six grandchildren.”

Tara said she grew up in a family of readers.

“We read to each other.  If you read books, you love them.  It kinda opens your eyes to a whole different world,” she said.

She recalled as a young girl going into the school libraries at Sylvan School in Modesto and Dent School in Escalon. She is still able to recall where certain books were located and exactly where the front desks were in the buildings.

Tara added that the visits of authors coming to sign their newly released books are still fresh in her mind today.

“Books play an important part in each stage of our lives,” she noted. “I remember reading ‘Runaway Bunny’ with my mother and I still read it with my daughter now.”

She said her mother recently brought all of her old paperbacks that she had as a youth to her home for her daughter to read including “Dr. Suess” and “Curious George, ” and the Golden Books.

With the front page falling away from the “Curious George Takes a Job” story, she is having fun reading it to her 4-year-old. 

Tara’s younger sister was immersed in reading as well while she was growing up.  Five years her junior, she is now in law school.

“Growing up with books tends to make us more successful and realize there is more out there,” she said.  Their mother Debbie Renfroe reads all the books published by one author and her dad Richard and her husband lean toward biographies, non-fiction and current events.

Tara said she loves working in Ripon because it is like her family home in Escalon where everyone cares about each other.  It’s nice to see the kids who come to the library regularly as they are growing up.

Both librarians show their excitement about the book club at the branch where children take a book home, read it and bring it back with their questions and discussion.  One of the two librarians will talk with the young readers for about 30 minutes, responding to their curiosities. 

Following the discussions, club members are then involved in a craft and welcome a tasty snack.

“I hardly get through their list of questions,” Tara said, “because they have so many.  It shows them reading is fun, not just additional homework.”

It is also special to see her 4-year-old daughter come through the front door while she is working with her grandmother to take part in story time.  She is just one of the kids going through the books to see if she can find a new favorite she wants to read, the librarian said.

The library has also offered computer classes for seniors – a plus for them not having to pay for the Internet service. 

“All About Baby Storytime” is held on Thursdays at 10:30 a.m. for children from zero to two years who attend with their parent or caregiver for traditional nursery rhymes, finger plays, gentle movement and short songs and clapping with bells in rhythm and stories.

Family movie matinees are held during the week as well to enjoy a family-friendly film on the big screen.  The film title will be advertised in the library.

There is free tax help through Volunteer Income Tax Assistance known as VITA throughout March and April.  To make an appointment contact Arnetta Lee-Gray at VITA (209) 483-4190.

“Preschool Storytime” features stories, poetry, song, fingerplays and movement and lots of fun. The program lasts about 20 minutes also with craft and extended playtime afterwards.

The children’s book club meetings began on Feb. 29 and will run through the end of March.  Each club meeting lasts about an hour and children from the second through the fifth grade are invited to sign up for either the Step Up or the Intermediate Club.

There is also an Adult Book Discussion Group that meets the second Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. that makes the experience of reading a good book even better.  It’s all about gaining insight about the reading experiences with other readers.  Thursday, March 8, is the date of the next book discussions.

— Glenn Kahl
staff reporter

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