Chesterton Tribune

Thomas Library very, very busy as recession deepens

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Activity continues to remain strong at Westchester Public Library’s Thomas branch in Chesterton.

According to Library Board president Vern Odom, “Last Sunday I was in here and this building was packed for a Sunday. You couldn’t squeeze another person in here. It was a madhouse.”

Public service units --- each an individual opportunity to serve a patron --- are up 10 percent this year to 221,841 PSUs through March, the biggest jump coming in wireless-access usage.

Circulation year-to-date is up just over 14 percent at Thomas compared to 2008 while circulation at Porter’s Hageman Library dipped again although its program attendance rose by 122 percent.

But with the joint jumpin’ at Thomas, WPL library director Phil Baugher reported Thursday that five additional Internet workstations have been ordered there as well as one more Early Literacy workstation for children, new to WPL recently and a big hit.

Coming soon for circulation is a new collection of language lessons on USB flash drives to supplement the current lessons on CD-Rom.

The busy library and hard economic times has generated some stress lately, said Baugher, which board member Karen Nash said is the case in most business sectors.

WPL is planning a series of upcoming programs intended to help patrons better survive the economic downturn. “We’ll have a variety of things scheduled to help people stretch their dollars,” according to Baugher.

He announced WPL is researching the library’s possible particpation in the national Safe Place for Kids program; efforts are being made to expand the program locally.

“This is something that seems to be picking up more momentum than I’ve seen in the past,” he noted. “There’s a big push to get as many involved as possible.” Hageman also would take part as a place where a child in crisis can come, feel safe and be referred to the appropriate agency depending on the situation.

Both furnaces at Hageman have been replaced, and the new air conditioning units have yet to be installed; a roofing crew has removed stone ballast from the Thomas roof and work will continue there weather permitting.

In other business, the Library Board conducted a hearing on the proposed 2010-2012 Capital Projects Fund plan with no one from the public commenting. By a 6-0 vote with member Keith Davison absent the plan was approved and forwarded to the Westchester Township Board for consideration.

Library Board member Rick Hokanson participated in the vote after WPL attorney Terry Hiestand advised that although Hokanson’s term has expired, the Porter County Council has not acted on the vacancy so Hokanson can continue to serve.

Baugher said WPL received tax distributions from Porter County totalling $641,829. With $4.6 million in all WPL funds including current investments, he was authorized to invest up to $1 million more.

Legislation in SB 348 that could have meant big changes for Indiana libraries including WPL now appears dead, said Baugher, although the Indiana State Library next week is presenting a plan for new standards for Hoosier public libraries.

Announcements included the April 17-19 Friends of the Library book sale at Thomas with AV materials still available, and the April 19 Appraisal Luncheon at the Library Service Center to benefit the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum.

Assistant WPL director Jane Walsh-Brown, who also serves as museum curator, next month will receive a R.O.S.E. award in recognition of service excellence to the public. The award is a joint presentation of the Convention Recreation and Visitor Commissions in LaPorte and Porter counties.

 

 

Posted 4/10/2009