Chesterton Tribune

Library finds partners: Chesterton Adult Learning Center to reopen

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By PAULENE POPARAD

The popular Chesterton Adult Learning Center is returning next month to its former home at Westchester Public Library’s service center.

WPL director Phil Baugher told the Library Board on Thursday that the ALC is scheduled to reopen Sept. 7 through the joint efforts of a Regional Adult Education Consortium and the Center for Workforce Innovations to find new funding for the Chesterton ALC and others in the region.

“The library’s continuing support was reported to be a major factor in the decision to keep our center open,” said Baugher.

He noted WPL’s involvement won’t go beyond its former contributions of the physical classroom space, telephone and computers services, utilities and custodial services.

Last month the Library Board tentatively discussed whether it should resurrect the ALC on its own if others couldn’t.

The center provides basic adult education, reading fundamentals, retraining, brush-up skills, English as a second language and GED preparation for the high-school equivalency exam.

In other business, Baugher said WPL intends to eliminate a number of lesser-used databases it makes available to patrons through the library website. Remaining will be Inspire, Chilton’s Manuals and downloadable audio books through Netlibrary and Overdrive. Plans are to expand the offering of published e-books as an alternative.

Baugher said the popularity of the latter format is exploding as more hand-held readers come on the market. Said WPL attorney Terry Hiestand, “The thought is when they’re $99 everyone will have one and we’re almost there.”

Baugher said he looked again at providing a music download service but determined the price is cost-prohibitive at this time.

The library’s website now has a new Bits and Bytes section posting some of the presentations given for WPL’s popular computer classes. The page has a schedule for upcoming classes and allows online registration.

It was announced a public fax machine will be installed in the Automation/Serials area at Thomas Library in response to numerous patron requests. The machine will auto-dial a company that will prompt the patron to use a credit card to pay for the fax; WPL will receive a portion of the payment.

Baugher said new signs are being placed in the unfiltered adult public computer areas notifying patrons those privileges will be suspended if they are found to be viewing sexually explicit images, which the library considers creates a sexually hostile environment for other patrons and employees.

The Childrens Department’s recent “Adventures on the High Seas” summer reading program again set a record for WPL with 908 participants involved compared to 768 last year.

Registration by individual schools was Bailly, 102; Other, 93; Brummitt, 85; St. Patrick, 83; Yost, 81; Westchester Intermediate, 72; Jackson, 71; Liberty, 66; Preschool, 62; Homeschool, 44; Chesterton Montessori, 42; Discovery Charter, 41; Liberty Intermediate, 25; Fairhaven, 18; Duneland Montesorri Academy, 12; and Chesterton Middle School, 11.

On another matter, while WPL’s property and liability coverage premium will increase only 3 percent upon renewal, health insurance coverage could rise by over 20 percent. Baugher said he is looking at various options, like giving raises to hourly employees but not full-time employees who receive the insurance.

That discussion was related to preparation of the 2011 budget, which was adopted for publication on a unanimous vote with member Vern Odom absent due to illness. The budget provides for a continuation of current operating hours, services and programs; final adoption is slated for later this year.

Next year WPL is requesting just over $3 million for the combined operating budget and capital projects fund and an anticipated $453,773 transfer into the Library Improvement Reserve Fund. The library currently has $6,232,418 in all funds ($5 million of it in investments) with another 43 percent of its 2010 budget or $1,127,534 yet to be collected.

WPL is saving money for future library expansion and/or the repurposing of buildings in the coming years.

Also Thursday, Jane Walsh-Brown, assistant library director and director of WPL’s Westchester Township History Museum, distributed the new Beyond the Beach Discovery Trail tourist guide that includes the museum, located in the restored 1885 Brown Mansion.

Walsh-Brown and other library staff are reprising the popular Day in the Life of Westchester Township, a pictorial shot in the summer of 2007. This year’s will celebrate autumn and be photographed Oct. 9 throughout the township.

The Library Board plans to host a dinner for Walsh-Brown celebrating her employment anniversary with WPL. “It certainly doesn’t seem like 35 years,” she commented Thursday.

Approved was the hiring of Lora McMeans and Pam Waters as clerks replacing four who have resigned.

 

Posted 8/13/2010