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Libraries: More than books
Head librarian embraces community center role
library copy
A patron looks for a book at the Manteca Library. - photo by HIME ROMERO/Bulletin file photo

Most people see shelves of books when they see a library.

Suzy Daveluy sees a community center.

It’s an outlook that is helping shape the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library System.

“A library is a place where people can make connections,”  Daveluy told Manteca Rotarians meeting recently at Ernie’s restaurant.

Daveluy has been overseeing the library system since April.

She noted the library has been about more than traditional books for a long time. The library has an extensive e-collection system but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It serves as a community resources center for everything from applying from health care insurance  to tax assistance, literacy center, cultural center, center for the arts, lecture center, a place where adults can learn what’s necessary to earn a general education diploma, and more.

“Our customers matter,” Daveluy said.

By that she means the library is there to serve the needs of the community. As an example, patrons at the Caesar Chavez Main Library in Stockton expressed interest in having a seed library to allow people to grow their own vegetables. There is now one in place that is used extensively.

“We will be asking people in Manteca what they want in a library,” Daveluy said. “It’s not one-size-fits-all for all 13 libraries.”

Daveluy noted the library system is working hard to find ways to bring services to the community. Not only did the system recently reopen a shuttered Stockton branch but they now have additional bookmobile stops “to take the library to remote locations.”

Three of those “remote” locations are in Manteca. The bookmobile since July 14 has been stopping every other Tuesday at Woodward Park (1 to 2 p.m.), Sequoia Park (2:15 to 3:15 p.m.), and Northgate Park (4 to 5 p.m.). Dates for the balance of 2015 are Sept. 1, 15 and 19; Oct. 13 and 27; Nov. 10 and 24; and Dec. 8 and 22.

A complete list of bookmobile sites can be found on the Library’s website at

The stops were requested by people unable to make their way to the downtown library on Center Street.

It is why as Manteca’s elected leaders start considering the physical expansion of facilities for libraries that Daveluy is convinced that should involve a strategy that “takes libraries” to the community.

To that end library boosters have suggested a location south of the 120 Bypass  perhaps Woodward Park — as well as a location in north Manteca. That is in addition to reconfiguring the existing library to meet current needs.

Councilman Vince Hernandez working to get the developer and city to designate a site in the Villa Tinco subdivision proposed south of the Manteca Unified School District office as a potential neighborhood library site. He has indicated his intent is not necessarily to build a branch library there but to get the need for a library a higher profile on the municipal radar.

Other communities such as Stockton and Lathrop have built branch libraries as part of structures that provide other functions such as a community center or — in Lathrop’s case — a teen center.

Such smaller branches could carry an annual cost to operate and maintain of $500,000 according to information obtained from the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library System.

Manteca essentially provides the building and covers the maintenance costs including utilities. They also make a small contribution to the books fund for the Manteca branch collection as well as provide funding for staffing hours beyond what the county and City of Stockton underwrite.