Chesterton Tribune



Westchester Library to resume in person programs with precautions

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In-person programs are resuming at the Westchester Public Library this month with precautions including required masks and social distancing, the Library Board of Trustees heard at its meeting Thursday night.

Library Director Lisa Stamm reported planning programs around weather and factoring in COVID-19 safety precautions took staff “many hours of brainstorming and sizeable doses of flexibility and patience.”

Popular programs for kids like Tickle Tales, Toddler Time, and Stories and Kicks will take place on the Hageman lawn. Other programs like Art Club and Kids Improv will be offered in the Library’s overflow parking lot across from the Baugher Center. Patrons are asked to bring their own chairs or blankets for outdoor programs.

Stamm said she added $839.09 to her running tab of COVID-19 pandemic supplies, much of it for portable PA systems and walkie talkies to facilitate outdoor programs. This brings the total WPL has spent on unexpected pandemic supplies to $11,535.59.

In related business, the Westchester Township History Museum has reopened to the public for research and outdoor tours by appointment only. There’s also a new exhibit on Duneland’s Swedish Immigrants that will run the rest of the year and be accompanied by a series of YouTube videos for interested patrons who opt not to visit in-person.

First Emergency Cleaning

In other pandemic business, Stamm reported that she ordered the Thomas Branch closed on Saturday Aug. 8 following a potential COVID-19 exposure. Maintenance staff conducted a deep cleaning and sanitization of the building and normal operations resumed Monday. Stamm first declined to say if the suspected exposure was from a patron or employee, citing privacy concerns, but said it was an employee when asked how privacy factors into such a vague question.

Staff who were scheduled to work that day were paid for their shifts, a precedent Stamm said she plans to follow for future emergency cleaning closures. “I doubt that this will be the first time we have to close for an emergency cleaning,” she said. “It will likely happen again at WPL and at many other businesses as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”

Librarian’s Report

Stamm highlighted a detailed thank you letter WPL received from a parent who’s grateful WPL offers a wide selection of children’s books that showcase diversity and aid in the teaching of anti-racism for kids. The parent, who identified her family as white, said the Library’s selection has “tremendously” helped her children learn about social, cultural, and racial diversity.

“I wanted to take time out to thank the staff for providing a safe place for our family and providing access to stories that can provide both a window for families like ours and mirrors for families unlike ours,” the letter read, in part.

Stamm said she personally responded to the letter. “It was lovely. It made our whole week, our whole month really.”

WPL is gearing up to offer extra support to the Duneland Schools in the form of digital resources OverDrive Connect and Hoopla. Currently Hoopla is only available to Westchester Township resident cardholders, but WPL is ironing out the details of offering a digital access card for students and teachers who live outside the Township. Stamm said she’ll also boost the Library’s Hoopla subscription to accommodate extra usage if necessary.

Stamm switched the Library’s general insurance coverage from Liberty Mutual to Astra because the Liberty Mutual premium was slated to increase from $32,526 to $36,432, and Astra offers better coverage for $29,883. She also added a cyber and privacy liability policy for $2,792.

Board member Michele Corazzo asked Stamm about her plans to fill two full-time positions following the departures of Reference Manager Marta Schumacher and AV Manager Tracy McDonald. Stamm reported she had strong candidates for the positions and has hired Colleen Good as the new reference manager. Meanwhile, the AV manager’s responsibilities have been divided among current employees.

In July, 7,177 people visited the Library. WPL created 29 virtual programs that garnered 1,613 views and hosted a Facebook challenge that engaged 769 people. Curbside pickup usage dropped by 52 percent at the Thomas Branch and 20 percent at Hageman, Stamm reported.


The Board approved a resolution on face mask requirements in the Library to replace a policy on the same topic. The resolution specifically prohibits ineffective masks made of mesh or loosely-fitted material, which Stamm said have become a statement piece among anti-maskers. A couple patrons came into the Thomas Branch this week wearing fishnet masks, she added.

The Board also approved a change to the circulation policy allowing patrons to place holds on and borrow all magazines, including new issues.

Per a change in State Code, Stamm reported libraries are required to submit by October 1 a form that designates what local municipal entity would have the option to seek a binding review of a given library’s budget under certain qualifying conditions. The conditions relate to how much a library carries in reserve funds.

The form must be signed by both the library in question and its corresponding entity. It is for documentation purposes, filed with the Indiana State Library, and does not set the budget review in motion. Stamm asked Board President Nick Tilden to sign the form.

The Department of Local Government Finance determined last year that under the new State Code, the Porter County Council would be the entity that has the option of oversight over WPL’s budget. The Council would be required to hold a public hearing if it pursued this option to annually review WPL’s budget.


Posted 8/14/2020




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