County Library Branches ‘Inching Toward Opening’

BERLIN – A discussion on branch reopenings and staff vaccinations highlighted a library board meeting this week.

On Tuesday, Library Director Jennifer Ranck told members of the Worcester County Library Board of Trustees that branches would soon reopen to the public. She said plans would be announced after an upcoming meeting with library staff.

“The Maryland courts are starting to come back and schools are back,” she said, “so we are on that same path.”

Ranck told board members this week branch managers met the last two weeks to finalize reopening plans. She said she wanted to consult with staff before making any announcements.

“It sounds like most people are ready to jump into it,” she said.

Ranck said the library would continue to offer a curbside pickup program once branches reopen but would not take appointments for meeting space, as the rooms would continue to be used for quarantining materials.

“I feel like we’ve done a great job at providing services during this very unusual time …,” she said, “but I know people are missing the flexibility of coming in without making an appointment.”

Ranck said plans for reopening come as the county reports improvements in its positivity and case rates.

“We are in really good shape in Worcester,” she said. “I think we are right there.”

When asked how many librarians had been vaccinated, Ranck estimated at least 30% of staff had received the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Anybody who’s been able to get the vaccine has gone forward with it …,” she said. “The county is trying to get their employees vaccinated, and we are grouped in with that.”

Board member Jeff Smith noted that while librarians may qualify to receive the vaccine, supply continued to be a challenge.

“Not all are successful in getting their vaccine under continuity of government …,” he said. “It’s about figuring a way to fit librarians into the system that currently exists, and having enough vaccines to get it.”

Ranck noted that staff are signing up for the county’s central waiting list. She added that the Ocean Pines branch was assisting the Worcester County Health Department by taking calls and adding people to the list.

“I can get an update and see where things stand with the county,” she said.

Ranck told board members more information on the library’s reopening would be announced at a later date.

In the meantime, she said, the library continues to offer appointments, virtual programs and to-go services for its patrons.

“We are inching toward opening,” she said.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.