Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

More visitors, less circulation at township libraries

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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 standards.

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 in memberships.

•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.


Posted 5/14/2010







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