Chesterton Tribune



WPL renews literacy support; Baugher receiving state award

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Westchester Public Library Board members heard a poignant letter Thursday written by a student whose life was made better because of the Chesterton Adult Learning Center.

ALC director Christine McConnell reported 75 persons have been served this year at the ALC, which is housed in WPL’s Library Service Center. Students there can improve their basic educational skills to get a GED, find jobs, prepare for college, learn English as a second language or study to pass military entrance exams.

Some students are eligible for ALC scholarships, said McConnell, and $4,000 in donations has been raised. The ALC itself is funded by Workforce Development.

WPL director Phil Baugher said the library has provided space and support services for the ALC since 1975 because libraries traditionally have advanced literacy in their communities.

WPL board member Nick Tilden and others thanked McConnell for the center’s efforts, which serves a population generally within the Duneland School Corp. boundaries.

Also Thursday, the Library Board toasted Baugher with a non-alcoholic sparkling beverage to mark the news that he will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Indiana Library Federation at this fall’s annual conference.

In 2013 Baugher received the Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s Community Achievement Award.

Baugher was an unlikely choice when he was named library director 36 years ago: an ex-Marine, Vietnam veteran, avid sailor and college graduate temporarily working as a mechanic. Baugher since has helmed WPL through the unprecedented 2001 Bethlehem Steel bankruptcy and the expanding digital delivery of library information and services.

Baugher credited everyone who made the ILF honor possible, including all WPL trustees, staff and patrons, past and present.

In other business, Baugher announced WPL will offer an initial year of access to Hoopla, a web service that provides downloadable feature films, audiobooks, television programs and music. He noted Hoopla is a new service and it will take a few months before the library can configure access off the WPL website, which has been revamped to navigate more easily.

Baugher said he received a low number of responses off the WPL website’s patron survey so new questions will be drafted to target specific areas about which the library is seeking input for future planning purposes.

It was announced artist Mitch Markowitz has visited WPL’s Westchester Township History Museum in the Brown Mansion where he made a watercolor sketch to begin his painting of the historic home as the next poster in the classic “Just Around the Corner” South Shore Line series.

The original painting and poster will be unveiled Oct. 24 during a 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. reception at the museum.

The Library Board learned WPL’s tutor service to help improve students’ reading skills may have to cut back its hours when the program resumes in September because staff can’t find a quiet area that can be reserved exclusively for that use.

The board also renewed its membership in the Indiana State Library Consortium to make WPL eligible for grants to help fund its electronic internet services, and adopted a new staff credit-card policy expanding the number of employees who are authorized to charge on WPL-owned cards for library purchases only. Varying limits apply to purchases made.


Posted 8/15/2014