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Librarian excited about growing Ceres branch
How do you energize a small town - particularly its young people - to get more involved in their library? You bring in an energetic reader and librarian like Carolyn "Cen" Campbell.

Cen (pronounced "Ken") has been building up use at the Ceres library since arriving here 10 months ago. She also had the county to put her in charge as a regional librarian, looking at branches in Keyes, Hughson and Empire.

A Canadian citizen here on a visa, Campbell said she plans to add stability to the Ceres branch in light of the recent high turnover of Ceres library managers.

"I plan to stay here for a couple of years and get some good programs going," said Campbell. "I'm really looking to have strong connections in the community."

Campbell is also the secretary of the newly formed Kiwanis Club. She's made outreaches to Soroptimist, Ceres Rotary, Ceres Partnership for Healthy Children and the Ceres City Council.

Campbell's first library job was working with a bookmobile for seven months in Nova Scotia.

She came to Ceres to advance her librarian career but also for personal reasons - to be closer to her fiance, who lives in San Francisco.

"For a while there I was living in Nova Scotia; he was living down in San Francisco and the plane ride is about a 12 and a half hour to get from there to him. So I'm thinking, hmm, Modesto to San Francisco is a little bit shorter."

Since joining the Stanislaus County Library system, Campbell helped to change a few things. Within the county library structure, three main libraries - Salida, Turlock and Oakdale - were each acting as regional libraries over three smaller libraries. Because of problems filling the Oakdale regional librarian position, Campbell wrote a proposal to take on the region if it was moved from Oakdale to Ceres.

"I didn't want to leave Ceres because I have a great staff here and I've got great contact started with the community. I love it here. Ceres is a wonderful community. There's lots of very motivated people here. It's such a growing place. It's just exploding; there's people coming in from all over. We're the third biggest city in the county."

The county librarian accepted the proposal.

Campbell now acts as a supervisor for the branch managers in Hughson, Keyes and Empire. "They come to me for whatever problems they have. I do the selecting for their libraries and I'm the person they come to if they have a problem. So that's new for me."

Her attention will continue to be building up the Ceres Library, which is also getting a full-time children's librarian.

"My emphasis is on programming and outreach in the community because libraries aren't just book repositories anymore. They're driving, dynamic community places where you can go and learn. The phrase is lifelong learning.

"I'm pushing to have every type of possible program we can have."

Campbell has introduced teen programs, including a January meet-and-greet craft program.

"I got the teens in the community to come and tell me what kind of stuff they wanted to do in the library that wasn't completely lame and boring. There's not much for teens to do in Ceres on a Friday night."

Last Friday the library hosted a literary based murder mystery. Several businesses helped supply food items to the event.

She also created a "big, cool collection" of teen books.

The Ceres Library is aided by an active Friends of the Ceres Library group, noted Campbell. The group raises funds to augment programs and materials in Ceres. Campbell said under the leadership of President Paul Caruso, the Friends of the Ceres Library has agreed to support quarterly children's programs.

She is seeking to build up children's paperback book section because they're very popular.

"Kids want to read them. Even if it's Captain Underpants they're reading, I'm a happy girl."

Campbell was turned on to libraries and books as a young girl when her mother took her to library story times. In the fourth grade she got hooked on Nancy Drew and the Babysitters Club book series.

She obtained a bachelor's degree in linguistics and English literature. Campbell applied to library school and loved it.

"And I always knew that I wanted to be a manager in libraries because I really do value libraries as a community space and I want to further the mission and vision of the library as a lifelong learning institution and a community space."