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Elkins-Randolph County Library receives grant, names director

Submitted photo The Elkins-Randolph County Public Library has received an American Library Association COVID Library Relief Fund Grant for $30,000.

ELKINS — The Elkins-Randolph County Public Library has received a substantial new grant and is moving forward under new leadership.

Jared Howell, who was appointed as the new director of the library in June, told The Inter-Mountain he’s both excited and grateful for the opportunity.

“I’m no librarian, I’m mostly here for the executive position, basically staying within a good budget, managing the staff, and coordinating with what the board has in mind for the library moving forward,” Howell said this week. “I’ve done that in the past being the treasurer for many years and then ultimately becoming chairman of the board for the final few years.

“Plus, I have a great staff that has a lot of welcome knowledge to fill in the gaps that I don’t have. I think together we make a perfect team.”

Stephanie Murphy, the library’s former director, resigned in June prior to Howell’s appointment.

Abby Hohn, the library’s programming coordinator and grant writer, said she is excited about the hiring of Howell as new director.

“Jared has a great history with our library,” Hohn said. “He served on our board for a long time and he really cares about the library. We are happy to have someone on board who knows how libraries function.”

The library also recently received a national grant.

Being selected as a recipient of the American Library Association COVID Library Relief Fund Grant, the Elkins-Randolph County Public Library will receive $30,000. It was one of 34 grantees representing academic, public, school and tribal libraries that have experienced substantial economic hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have been hurting really bad here because our library got flooded and nobody caught the damage,” Hohn said. “So we’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars just maintaining the building and fixing things up.”

The ERCPL plans on using the grant funds to support a new hotspot lending program, permanent outdoor WiFi installations, a podcasting station, a new library branch in Beverly, and a mobile library initiative. Funds will also be used to increase library collections, including more Wonderbooks, the books that read to you, and Playaways, tablets preloaded with educational games.

“The pandemic has been hard on our library and our community but we continued to try to improve and expand the services our library offers,” Hohn said. “This grant is a great opportunity for the library, but we’re most excited about the different ways the community will benefit.

“We’ve been looking for a way to increase internet access for residents of Randolph County and now we finally can. While we want patrons to come back to the library, the past year has shown us how important it is to diversify how services are offered. These funds will let us bring the library to community members who can’t come to the library or don’t know the extent of services we offer.”

The library will host Braver Angels on Zoom for a Bridging Divides Workshop.

“The workshop on Friday is about communicating with people both positively and productively despite their different views and beliefs,” Hohn said. “We are really looking forward to hosting that.”

The Elkins Bookhounds, Friends of the Elkins- Randolph County Public Library will offer a used book sale today and Saturday at the Elkins YMCA at 400 Davis Ave., next to the library. Hours for the sale are from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. today and from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday.

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