Westchester Public Library is in a wait-and-see mode on several fronts.
It’s not known how the recently adopted federal healthcare legislation will
impact WPL as an employer, why the visitor count at Thomas and Hageman
libraries is way up but circulation is down, and how much work lies ahead to
draft policies and long-range plans in compliance with new state library
Throw in Indiana’s property-tax caps and the question marks only get bigger,
said WPL library director Phil Baugher. “The dollars aren’t there because of
the tax caps but we have new standards to meet. Libraries are being
squeezed, and we don’t know what the (Indiana) General Assembly might do in
the next session.”
Regarding the controversial healthcare bill that phases in expanded coverage
in some cases, Baugher told the Library Board on Thursday, “I haven’t found
anything with a great impact this year or next, but right now it’s too soon
for me to say, one way or another, what the health-insurance legislation
will cost us.” Baugher said he’ll stay on top of how the bill will affect
the library’s budget and future employment practices.
Baugher also said he believes the fact WPL circulation system-wide for April
was down 3.22 percent might be indicative of a stronger economy as more
people are back to work. Use of public computers at both libraries was down
in three of four categories last month even though the visitor count in
April was up 14 percent at Hageman in Porter and 29 percent at Thomas in
Chesterton over April, 2009.
Visitor count at the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum showed
an 8 percent increase through April this year as well.
With the close of school approaching, plans are being finalized for WPL’s
popular children’s summer reading program; registration begins June 1 with
the actual program starting June 7. This year’s theme is Adventure on the
High Seas. Adult and young-adult reading programs also are planned. A new
section on WPL’s website has been expanded for Children’s Services.
Baugher told the Library Board that a 16 year-old juvenile patron had his
computer privileges blocked indefinitely for viewing inappropriate material
on three occasions after being warned twice not to. The juvenile computers
are filtered to the extent possible under the Child Internet Protection Act,
and Baugher said he couldn’t allow the offensive conduct to continue in an
area being used by other juveniles.
A new state law will require the Library Board to adopt several detailed
long-range service plans and policies although many of them have been
addressed by WPL previously. Nevertheless, Baugher said it will be a good
exercise to review the needed areas. He believes he and the board members,
assisted by input from patrons and staff, can draft the documents themselves
without the aid of a hired consultant by the Jan. 1, 2011 deadline.
In other business Thursday:
•It was announced WPL fared well in the Hennen’s American Public Libary
Ratings report. The scores are based on 15 different input and output
measures, said Baugher. WPL ranked 39th out of 235 Indiana public libraries
that were scored; 5th out of 47 Indiana public libaries in WPL’s 10,000 to
25,000 population range; and 565th out of all 7,930 public libraries scored
in the nation.
•The recent Friends of the Library book sale raised $4,560 in sales and $530
•Last night was a meet-and-greet for students and parents involved in WPL’s
pilot program Read Right, remedial sessions for youngsters whose teachers
have determined they would benefit from extra reading instruction. Sixteen
students are enrolled and begin the program June 7. “Helping with preschool
and early literacy, that’s always been a part of our mission,” said Baugher.
•WPL’s computer basics classes continue to be well-received, according to
the director, and it’s hoped some of them can be made as a digitial
recording of computer-screen output, known as a video-screen capture, that
could be posted on the library’s website.
•This fall WPL will repeat the Day in the Life of Westchester Township
photographic diary, first done in 2007.
•The Thomas elevator door was experiencing problems but Baugher said
although the problem appears to be solved, he’s arranged to have the door
stops upgraded from mechanical to electronic.
•The men’s restrooms at Thomas are on temporary lockdown following repeated
incidences of vandalism. Patrons are asked to sign out a key at either the
Circulation or AV desk to get access.
•WPL maintains a strong financial condition with just over $5.5 million in
accounts and investments. Preparation of the 2011 budget begins this summer.
Baugher said he’ll probably recommend holding the line on most budget
categories without making major changes in library materials or services.