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.
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.”
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
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
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.
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.”
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.
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
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
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.