Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Library hires new branch manager for Hageman

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Suzanne Chomel is the new branch manager of Hageman Library in Porter. The Westchester Public Library Board approved the hiring Thursday.

According to WPL library director Phil Baugher, Chomel has commitments to her current employer and the plan is for her to start work at Hageman part-time on Saturdays beginning in January. She currently works at the Thomas Library reference desk part-time, which Baugher said has familiarized Chomel with the library system.

“I believe she is the right person for the job and she will be worth the wait,” Baugher told the board. “I hope to begin giving her some responsibility for the selection of new materials at Hageman as soon as possible.” Chomel will be paid $23,500 annually.

The previous Hageman manager moved out of state after receiving her library science degree.

Last month the Library Board hired Jean Chelich as reference librarian at Thomas. Baugher said although she has a lot to learn about WPL, she’s doing a great job. In another personnel matter the Library Board agreed to expand the hours for Tony Baruffi from 30 to 40 hours per week as maintenance assistant.

The board also authorized WPL attorney Terry Hiestand to seek an official opinion from the Indiana Attorney General’s Office regarding whether current Library Board president Rick Hokanson can seek another four-year term.

At issue is an opinion by the State Board of Accounts that says a library board member must sit out four years after serving the maximum 16 years in an appointment cycle. Hokanson previously served four, four-year terms, sat out one year and is in his second cycle. His current appointment by the Porter County Council expires April 1, 2009.

Previous interpretation in library circles was that sitting out one year before reappointment to another term was acceptable --- until the opinion by a SBA lawyer. The SBA audits library finances and the fear is that the agency could say a board member is improperly seated.

“I’d definitely challenge it because I don’t even see where it’s coming from,” said WPL board member Karen Nash. “There’s nothing in writing (in state law) that even says that.”

Hokanson said he didn’t want to compromise the library’s audit position or complicate matters in any way. Hiestand said the attorney general could issue an opinion, especially because other libraries are affected, or choose not to; how long a ruling on the request could take isn’t known.

“In the mean time, what do we do?” asked board member Vern Odom. Baugher said since Hokanson’s appointment doesn’t expire until April, there’s time before making a final decision. The board appointment of Sharon Robbins, made by the Duneland School Board, also expires April 1 and WPL has sent a letter asking that she be reappointed.

In other business:

¥WPL renewed its legal services contract with long-time attorney Hiestand for 2009.

¥The board expressed appreciation for a $5,000 donation to the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum from Thomas Beauvais of Ann Arbor, MI, who used the museum’s services.

¥Board members discussed with Baugher the upcoming Indiana General Assembly session and a possible renewed push to merge WPL with the Porter County Library System; neither supports it. The move, which would affect libraries statewide, is one of the recommendations in last year’s Kernan-Shepard report to Gov. Mitch Daniels that proposes ways to streamline government and make it more cost-effective and efficient.

¥It was agreed that for the time being special projects tentatively planned next year will be put on hold because of the economy including a new WPL telephone system and computer upgrades. Thomas roofing and Hageman HVAC replacement will go forward.

¥The board approved a $250,000 year-end transfer from the operating fund to the non-reverting Library Improvement Reserve Fund. Baugher said originally $500,000 was to be transferred but the possibility exists for a shortfall in property-tax collections. Over $1 million in WPL certificates of deposit have matured and will be reinvested after Jan. 1.

¥Enhancements to WPL’s online public access catalog are on the way. In addition to book jackets for search results and more book reviews, Early Literacy Workstations will be added to the Children’s Department. The stand-alone stations, not connected to the Internet, have 35 different early learning programs on child-friendly keyboards.

¥During November, circulation at WPL was up nearly 2 percent although year-to-date circulation is down 2.86 percent systemwide. As of Nov. 30 WPL circulated 335,869 items. Public service units --- individual occasions of service to patrons --- also are down by 5 percent as of Nov. 30. Nevertheless, 793,496 PSUs were logged year-to-date.


Posted 12/22/2008




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