Library Board Supports Current Grant Process

BERLIN – Reaffirming the library’s grant process, the board of trustees voted this week to leave decisions on grant applications to the executive director’s discretion.

On Tuesday, the Worcester County Library Board of Trustees voted unanimously to allow Executive Director Jennifer Ranck to apply for any grants she deems appropriate for the library, reaffirming a decision that officials say the board made last year.

“That gave me permission to apply for whatever I wanted to on behalf of the library …,” Ranck said this week, “which is helpful in applying for grants.”

The board’s decision comes less than a week after the Worcester County Commissioners met with Ranck to discuss a teen reading program and its possible link to a political movement. The “Read Woke from Home” challenge, which offers two $500 prizes to teens who participate, was called into question after commissioners learned the program was funded by one of Beanstack’s Black Voices Microgrants, which according to Beanstack’s website are “in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Ranck told board members this week she was asked by commissioners to explain the library’s process for applying for grants. While she couldn’t point to specific meeting minutes, she explained the board had voted to leave it to her discretion when choosing grants.

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To that end, the board on Tuesday voted to reaffirm its previous decision, allowing the executive director to apply for library grants without the board’s permission. Ranck said she would continue to inform the board of any grant applications made on behalf of the library.

“We trust you to do your job,” board member Vicki O’Mara added.

Ranck noted that while the library received county funding for personnel services, materials and maintenance, it has never asked for money to fund its programs.

“That’s why we go after grants,” she said.

She noted, for example, the library recently applied for federal funding through the American Rescue Plan to establish a mobile outreach program that would visit child care centers, schools and senior centers.

“This would be a game changer for this library …,” she said. “I don’t know what the chances are, as this is a statewide competitive grant.”

Board members this week also voted to approve the library’s $2.86 million budget for fiscal year 2022. Ranck noted the spending plan included a $99,000 increase for salaries and the purchase of a replacement vehicle.

“Everything I asked for, I received …,” she said. “I think we are very supported by the county.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.