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Worcester Library launches ‘Choosing Civility’ program

Passports are displayed as part of the Worcester County Library’s Choose Civility program running from March through May. Participants complete tasks in the passports that promote respect and kindness. Pictured is Library Director Jennifer Ranck.

By Rachel Ravina, Staff Writer

(March 7, 2019) A small act of kindness can go a long way, or at least that’s what the Worcester County Library’s passport program hopes to accomplish as part of a Choosing Civility campaign that runs from March to May.

The program offers separate passports for adults and children, each geared toward age-appropriate tasks.

For instance, a youth Choose Civility passport includes “help[ing] someone in your family without being asked” and “leav[ing] a happy note in a library book.”

An adult Choose Civility passport asks participants to “donate some toiletries to a food bank” or “say you are sorry if you hurt someone’s feelings.”

Once the tasks are completed, participants should return them to any branch of the Worcester County Library by May 25.

Jennifer Ranck, director of the Worcester County Library, said she hopes the program’s participants can integrate the project into their everyday routine.

“Well, I think civility is a habit,” Ranck said. “So, the more that you practice it in your life, the more it just becomes part of your everyday attitude toward other people.”

The Choosing Civility campaign first started in 2007 in Howard County, Maryland, and was inspired by Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. P.M. Forni’s book, “Choosing Civility: The 25 Rules of Considerate Conduct.”

“It’s been very successful and we’ve kind of watched from afar as they build on this program, and last year, they gave out some grants to [others to] launch their own campaign,” Ranck said.

The program aims to promote respect and kindness with 15 Principles of Civility, including paying attention, listening and assuming the best, according to the movement’s website.

Ranck said Worcester County received $4,300 last year through the Maryland State Library. An additional $5,000 was awarded this year to expand the program.

In the program’s first year, Ranck said the library held events around the central theme of kindness. Participants created art projects and had roundtable discussions. She added that the library is also offering storytelling, mindfulness yoga and a community garden project.

A Ben Franklin Living History presentation will be held at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23 in the Berlin branch. There will also be a prize drawing in May for all who participated in the passport program.

“We just wanted to make sure that the program was accessible for everyone and for all ages, so we’re just excited about participating in this again,” she said.

The idea of civility is something everyone can get behind, Ranck said.

“I think sometimes things in the world can seem a little divisive in that we don’t always have a common background, but I think everybody can kind of get behind this idea of bringing a bit more civility back into our everyday life,” Ranck said.

Participants can get civility passports from any branch of the Worcester County library including Berlin, Ocean City, Ocean Pines, Pocomoke and Snow Hill.

For more information, call 410-632-3970 or visit