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23 years pushing the thrills of reading
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A fun experience of shopping in Ripon is to run into children at their mothers sides who recognize library assistant Alicia Reynolds often saying, Look Mommy, its the librarian. - photo by GLENN KAHL

RIPON - Alicia Reynolds – without a doubt – loves her job of 14 years at the Ripon Library.

She first went to work for the county library system in Tracy and then to Manteca before settling on the Ripon community that she and her family already called home.  She said she couldn’t be happier working under Librarian Melinda Kopp.

“This is a good place to work.  Melinda is the best supervisor ever,” she said.

Her ultimate thrill these days is reading to her four granddaughters that her son and daughter have given to her and her husband.  “Reading to them is one of the greatest pleasures of my life,” she said.

Alicia was quick to note that the Ripon Library is selling old books to the public during the Main Street Festival set for today from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m.  The books are discounted for quick sales and are being offered in the patio of the facility until 5 p.m.

Reynolds said she always scours the book sales for volumes she can buy for her husband John that he puts to use at his Stockton Homeless Shelter.  He collects as many old books as he can find that are relished mostly by the men in his facility. 

The books that are the most popular are the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, because they are relatively short stories with a heart and soul bent to them, his wife said.  The shelter residents are given a night curfew time and they need reading material to fill out their days, she added.

Alicia’s duties at the library include being the circulation manager and supervising the nearly dozen volunteers aged 13 to 80 who are assigned a variety of tasks maintaining the entire book collection under roof.

The volunteers stay busy shelving books, dusting shelves, taking care of plants in the building, dusting furniture, placing labels on new volumes and emptying the book-return drop.  She was working with Ripon High grad and volunteer Natalie Wright this week, who was busy restocking library shelves.

Natalie has been accepted to the Academy of Art in San Francisco for the school’s upcoming spring semester.  She said she is hooked on the comic book section at the library that has its own form of cartoon art.  Her focus at the art academy is going to be 2D and 3D animation.

“We have a volunteer appreciation event every year in April hosted by John Mangelos in a private room in his restaurant,” she noted. “The supervisor and the Stockton city librarian both usually come down and attend the luncheon.”

Alicia easily remembers back to her time in first grade in Santa Clara when Mrs. Childress was her teacher. 

“I just remember she was beautiful along with her kindness.  I remember we had ‘Dick, Jane and Sally’ textbooks.  I still collect the originals and buy them when I can find them,” she said.

The library staffer and her husband have two adult children who attended Ripon schools, Benjamin Reynolds, 33, and Casey Conner, 30, both of Ripon.

Alicia said English was probably her favorite subject in high school and now she is reading with a group of Ripon women who have rotated from home to home over the last 18 years.  Each takes their turn to host the events, lead the discussion and read their favorite book.

She has now chosen “Winter Garden” for her current selection.  Rounding out the reading group are Kristen Hannah, Kathleen Musca, Karen Huffman, Judith Aukeman, Margaret Sivley, Sharon Filippi and Kim Johnson.

Kim Johnson is a longtime eighth-grade teacher at Ripona Elementary School who has become known for encouraging personal reading among her students.  The library worker said numerous parents have come to her and acknowledged that their sons and daughters had not enjoyed reading until going into her classroom.

Alicia added that the eighth-grade teacher also has an annual sock drive with students and families donating up to 1,000 pairs of socks of every description each year.

Aside from the library, she gives books away to friends and family members all year-round, not just on holidays like Christmas time.  They are usually books she has read that spoke to her heart and she recognizes that certain people in her life will appreciate them.

“Some of the favorites will speak to us,” she said. 

The Ripon Library is adding to their Audio Books and eBooks collections.  In fact the entire San Joaquin County Library System soon will offer Nooks to their library patrons.  The Nooks have come from the Borders Book Stores that will allow readers to read page by page on screens with as many as five books per Nook.


209 staff reporter