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More Days, Fewer Hours For Escalon Library
Changes are coming to the Escalon Library, effective with the start of the new budget year on July 1.

The library will lose a few hours of operation, down to 25 from the current 32, but will be open five days a week instead of four, according to City Librarian Chris Freeman. The Escalon Branch Library is part of the Stockton-San Joaquin County Library System.

"We want to provide as many opportunities for patrons as possible," Freeman said of utilizing the library branch on Second Street.

Currently, the library has hours of operations Monday through Thursday. The July 1 change will see the library open five hours per day, Tuesday through Saturday. Adding the Saturday hours, Freeman said, should help more people take advantage of the library services, especially those that have difficulty getting there during the work week.

Hours will be Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday noon to 5 p.m.

The library staff, which currently includes librarian Bill Walker and assistants Pam Reisler, Michael Saul and Nancy Snipes, will also be reduced from the four full-time personnel to two fulltime employees as of the start of the new fiscal year in July. Reisler, whose formal title is circulation assistant, will stay on with Escalon and will be joined at the branch by new librarian Rebecca Hill-Long.

"None of the people that are currently at the branch are being laid off," Freeman pointed out, noting that Walker, Saul and Snipes will be placed in other positions within the library system.

"We're pleased that we're able to go to five days," Freeman added.

While losing the seven hours isn't the preferred outcome of city and county budget troubles, Freeman said being able to have the doors open five days a week instead of four is a good compromise. The changes at Escalon are included in the budget package that will be in front of both the City of Stockton council members and the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors next week.

"We'll just be doing an 'FYI' for them both on June 22," Freeman said of promoting the library changes at meetings of the council and county board.

In Escalon, there are also plans being made for a community day later this month at the library, when residents will be able to say goodbye to the outgoing staff and welcome in the new librarian.

Meanwhile, the summer reading program is in full swing, with a capacity crowd enjoying the recent 'Python Ron' program. Magician Brian Scott will be the featured performer tomorrow, Thursday, June 17 in a 3 p.m. show at the library. He weaves mystery and magic into an entertaining performance suitable for all ages.

The library is also home to the weekly 'On Your Own' art class, has the front display case available for local residents to showcase their art, unique collections and more. Currently, books produced by school children at Dent Elementary fill the case and they will be on display throughout the rest of June.

Artwork done by Oak Valley Art Society members lines the walls of the Ekholm Community Room, which is also where the popular summer reading programs are hosted.

Art Society member Dorothy Tolar said the library has been "wonderful" in its support of the arts.

"They have allowed us to come here, meet, display our paintings, we have our art show twice a year," Tolar pointed out.

Longtime local resident and artist Dorothy Girling agreed and said everyone is welcome to come to the Wednesday art classes, from 1:45 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

"Just put a line on the paper and get started," Girling said of drawing.

On Thursdays, June 24 and July 1, a children's craft program will be offered and the next big performance in the summer series will be Thursday, July 8, with musician Bonnie Lockhart in concert at 3:30 p.m.

Lockhart, an Oakland-based singer, songwriter and educator, makes sure her audience gets a chance to participate in the musical fun. Special summer reading program entertainers are provided with funding through the Friends of the Escalon Library.

Also scheduled are Jean Paul Valjean, one ma circus on July 15 and Puppet Art Theater on July 29, with a children's craft program in between on July 22. Teen programs are offered on Tuesdays, Battleship on July 29, Video games on July 13 and bubble wands on July 27.