FRESH FACE AT LIBRARY: CHILDREN’S AUTHOR

john-grandits1Children’s author and poet John Grandits, shown here with a couple of his books, is the newest member on the Red Bank Library Board. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Not long ago, John Grandits was talking to a friend about serving on one of Red Bank’s many boards or commissions. One of the possibilities was the planning board, though Grandits doesn’t have your typical background for the job.

Nor does he have the energy, he realized.

“It would bore me to death,” he told redbankgreen.

Then an opportunity that fit his skill set presented itself at the end of the year when the library board announced an opening. Grandits, a cheery author with a strong resemblance to Santa Claus, minus the paunch, grabbed at the chance to fulfill a longtime goal of his.

“I always thought for years and years and years if I had the time I’d like to be on the library board,” said Grandits, who is 60 years old. “Now I have the time.”

So here he is, as fresh to local politics as can be. His appointment to the board by Mayor Pasquale Menna was made official by the borough councilFebruary 2, and Grandits hasn’t been to a meeting yet; he’s still getting around to introducing himself library staff. He’s not even sure how long his term is.

Despite his newness, Grandits feels his background in publishing and the literary world will be an asset to the board, and by extension, the borough. His wife, Joanne, is also a librarian in Ocean County, so he has some help there, too. In fact, it’s her own outreach at the library that Grandits wants to emulate in Red Bank.

“Going out into the community and trying to drag people in is something I would support,” he said, noting that he’s especially focused on bringing in more minorities to the library. “We have this very diverse population here. It would be very nice if people could share the tax dollar here.”

And naturally, being the author of four children’s books, Grandits has a vested interested in what’s happening downstairs, where the recently-renovated children’s library is situated. In addition to writing his fifth book, he spends a lot of time speaking in local schools. It could be something he does at the library, he said, though his threshold for youngsters hits at about the eighth grade level.

“Kindergarten to fifth grade, those are my people. I love those people, they’re so open and smart,” he said. Then, chuckling, he said, “Eighth grade? I don’t know what happens to them. They sit there like dead mackerel.”

Grandits is well aware that there’s much more to serving on local boards than great ideas and hopeful aspirations, something he’s learned from a friend who serves on a local school board.

“Don’t miss a meeting, because they’ll end up making you the treasurer,” he said was advised.

No, Grandits doesn’t seem to get bogged down in the stressful minutiae of local politics that can cause a person to rip patches of hair from their head. Not to say he doesn’t take his new role seriously. He just wants to have a good time while he’s here on the library board — however long that may be.