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Blomquist the new custodian of the Ceres library
Carol Blomquist, the new Ceres Regional Librarian, aims to improve the library's function, promote readership and strength the Friends of the Ceres Library.

Blomquist took over in late August at the Florence Gondring Library after the transfer of Charles Teval to Turlock as the branch operations manager. Besides overseeing the Ceres library, Blomquist is also in charge of Hughson, Keyes and Empire branches where assistant managers have a more direct supervision. She is often the one who the assistants go to for troubleshooting of computer and building issues.

Most people do not see the complexities of running a library because of its calm activity on the surface, she said. "As a customer, people just don't have any idea of what goes on behind the scenes with materials or decisions."

Blomquist relies on her six employees to serve the public but is also on duty every other Saturday as well as typically Mondays through Thursdays.

While all book purchases are made through the main central branch in downtown Modesto, Blomquist is familiarizing herself with the Ceres collection in order to update needs, such as replacing older books and discarded books that are technologically outdated. She also can recommend books to be purchased.

"If I see a read a review and see there's a really good book that we should have in the collection I can certainly submit that to the people doing the purchasing," said Blomquist.

She also helps out at the counter serving patrons.

Blomquist said the Ceres Friends is strong and "very supportive" in Ceres, and currently reaching out to service clubs and speaking about library services and needs. Among needs are more funding for ebooks, which is more expensive for libraries than a regular member of the public.

"Those are very popular," Blomquist noted of eBooks, which may be downloaded onto a Kindle, Nook, iPad or iPhone. The library is licensed to loan out one copy of the eBook to one patron at a time. The patron then has 21 days to keep the copy on their computer since it is digitally encoded to erase itself. If the copy is "checked out" to another user, the patron can be placed on a "holds list" to await its availability. Since a user can finish an eBook early and "return" it early, the next patron waiting has 24 hours to download it, thus it is wise to check the holds list frequently. A patron is allowed to check out only two eBooks at a time.

The Ceres library remains popular with those wanting to use the computer lab, many who are seeking jobs online or just playing games.

"I think it's a wonderful service because there's a lot of people who don't have computers or people who have come in during this economy have said, 'I come in and use the internet because I cannot afford to maintain internet service at home.'"

A former teacher and Escalon High School librarian for 32 years, Blomquist decided to become a children's librarian in Salida where she remained four years. There she did story times and class visits.

Blomquist said while great effort is made to get grade school children to sign up for library cards, the adult population is welcome to get a card too.

"Could we be better used by the public?" rhetorically asked Blomquist. "Yeah. I think a lot of people do not realize that we have the internet available."

She hopes to take a crack raise the percentage of Ceres residents who own library cards. County Librarian Vanessa Czopek said that 20,381 cards are issued to Ceres residents, or 47.4 percent of the city. The countywide average is 61 percent, she said.