Westchester Public Library director Phil Baugher’s suspicion that this
year’s statistical reports weren’t quite right proved to be correct.
A glitch in the program has been fixed and it now shows that overall
February WPL circulation was up 40 percent over February, 2008 and
year-to-date WPL’s circulation is up 17 percent. At Thomas Library in
Chesterton alone last month circulation totals jumped 51.06 percent.
Baugher told the Library Board on Thursday, “We have good confidence these
numbers are right and I think they’re pretty amazing.”
Part of the February boost is due to 118 percent and 169 percent jumps in
computer use/adult and computer use/juvenile, respectively, at Thomas.
Baugher said on weekends there often is a waiting list to use public-access
computers; some people are using the computers for unemployment, updating
resumes or filing taxes.
Hageman Library showed a disappointing 49.31 percent drop in February
circulation and -37.78 percent year-to-date. Baugher said the Porter branch
was without a librarian for some months last year and new manager Suzi
Chomel is coming up to speed. It’s taking time to get new materials back on
the shelves and programming underway, explained Baugher, but he expressed
confidence Chomel will do that and build her own relationship with the
Through February, 59,230 items have been circulated at Thomas and 2,106
items at Hageman. Each opportunity to serve a patron is defined as one
public service unit. Year-to-date PSUs have increased 14 percent over 2008
to 141,440. The statistics are based on fewer patrons borrowing more;
visitor count year-to-date at Thomas is 21,833 or -10 percent and 2,734 at
Hageman or -14 percent.
Baugher addressed a Wednesday Voice of the People letter in the
Chesterton Tribune that rapped WPL’s policy of offering DVDs and movies,
some R-rated. The letter also said the library tax rate is substantially
higher than others in the area, and it questioned WPL staffing.
“The library does own and circulate a number of “R” rated DVDs, but they are
among the most popular items we have,” said Baugher. “We own 9,496 DVDs and
have something that would possibly offend almost anyone, but having the good
and the bad is our purpose.”
Last year, Baugher told the Library Board, WPL circulated DVDs 135,995 times
or an average of 14 circulations per title owned. “I think we should
consider that the public is getting their money’s worth from our services.”
He said the library aims to “give people not only what they need, but what
they want also.”
WPL’s last approved tax rate was $0.1271 in 2007 compared to $0.1039 as the
average 2007 tax rate for all libraries in the state. Baugher said he
believes WPL’s collections and the services it offers “stack up to any
library our size and are better than many of the larger libraries in the
Baugher noted WPL has advertised higher tax rates since 2007 but Hoosier
government units typically seek the maximum knowing state tax officials can
and do make cuts.
As for staffing, Baugher said there were three people at the Audio-Visual
Department desk today, two of them volunteers.
In a related matter, Baugher told Library Board members that attempts in the
Indiana General Assembly to force consolidation of libraries didn’t make it
out of committee, but library officials need to watch that objectionable
language isn’t put in another bill, especially during conference committee
Thomas open for
Baugher recommended and the Library Board concurred that Thomas library will
remain open during the revived Oz Festival that returns to downtown
Chesterton Sept. 19 and 20.
In previous years it was WPL’s practice to close the library during the
festival because of parking access and traffic problems. Also, “It’s always
been a bit of a mess. The restrooms always get trashed pretty badly,”
according to Baugher. He said in addition to a rest stop, if it’s hot
outside festival-goers used Thomas as a cooling station.
Baugher said he plans to have WPL employees park in its overflow Library
Service Center lot and spaces not needed can be used by the public after
employees arrive. The director said he realizes it’s a disruption for Thomas
patrons but with the festival having new organizers he’s willing to stay
open this year and see how it goes.
In other business Thursday:
*In a 2009 reorganization of board officers, Vern Odom was elected
president; John Corso, vice-president; Keith Davison, secretary; and Claire
*Marie “Ruby” Plourde was appointed reference manager at Thomas. “She’s a
very enthusiastic person, to say the least,” said Baugher.
*March 28-29 the Friends of the Library is having a sale at Thomas of
audio-visual materials that weren’t circulating much any more. As at other
public libraries in the state, said Baugher, most WPL video and audio tapes
are being phased out to make room for the preferred CD and DVD formats.
*The board voted 7-0 approving a Capital Projects Fund plan for 2010-2012
described as very similar to the current plan that budgets allocations for
building/grounds repair and replacement; equipment lease, purchase,
maintenance; and computer hardware/software purchases. In 2010, $254,994 is
budgeted and $242,900 in each of 2011 and 2012. A tax rate of $0.0121 is
projected each year. The plan requires additional approvals throughout the
*Baugher reported WPL received a check for $116,000 from Porter County this
week although it’s not clear what the distribution represents. “We expect a
lot more --- a lot.” Reconciliation 2008 Porter County property taxes are in
the process of being paid and 2009 taxes will be late as well. Baugher said
WPL can weather the delay; the library has $4,165,111 in all funds.