The Wilkes County Public Library in North Wilkesboro received a $20,000 NC CARES: Humanities Relief Grant from the N.C. Humanities Council to help make up for a reduction in funding from Wilkes County government.
The library, Wilkes County Schools, Wilkes Community College and numerous non-profit organizations were appropriated 14% less by the county for 2020-21 than in the prior year due to a reduction in Wilkes County government revenue. Most of the county’s loss is in sales tax revenue.
The 14% budget cut meant a loss of over $90,000 for the Wilkes County Library.
“We had to reduce most part-time staff members’ weekly hours and require other staff to take furlough days spread out over the course of the year,” said Wilkes County Librarian Aimee James. “Everyone who works at the library had seen some reduction in their paid work hours for the year.”
James said that with the $20,000 grant, some weekly work hours were added back for part-time staff and the number of furlough days that other staff will have to take this year were reduced. She said staff hours weren’t fully restored to normal, but the grant was a huge help.
Regional Library Director Jane Blackburn said it’s rare for a grant to pay for operational expenses. Blackburn said that when James saw an announcement about the grant, she immediately forwarded the information to her and Blackburn applied for it for the Wilkes County Public Library.
“We found out just last week that we will get the maximum amount the library was eligible for through this grant. We are happy to be able to return work hours and pay to our staff. It has been a stressful year so far, and this bit of good news was very welcome,” Blackburn added.
Funding for NC CARES is from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act economic stabilization plan