Chesterton Tribune



Library employees get shout out at WPL Board meeting

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Library Director Lisa Stamm used her monthly Librarian’s Report to the Westchester Public Library Board of Trustees to highlight the work of WPL’s staff at Thursday’s board meeting.

Stamm said WPL got several patron comments this past month commending staff for help with downloading eBooks, hosting great summer programs for kids, and others. One patron said WPL enriches his life, and another said WPL turned around a bad day.

“Patron interactions are important in ways we can only begin to imagine, and this is especially true when we help patrons having an ‘off day’ and make it better, which is a comment we received in July --that’s a badge we want to wear,” Stamm said.

“A lot of hard work goes on every single day at WPL, both frontline and behind the scenes,” Stamm said, noting that it takes hundreds of moving parts to keep the shelves stocked, answer reference and tech questions, coordinate programs and meeting room use, make promotional flyers and displays, and keep up the buildings and grounds.

“Add to that the overall extra busyness during summer, and you can see why I’m proud of the whole crew,” Stamm added.

In other business, Stamm reported WPL is working with Ellis Electric to install a new security camera trained on the staff entry doors at the Thomas Branch. The work is estimated to cost $1,125 and should be completed this month.

Summer reading concluded with a 22 percent increase in participation over last year. a total of 1,126 children, teens, and adults participated. Stamm reported WPL staff succeeded in getting a lot more teens involved this year.

Stamm is set to request an additional appropriation from WPL’s Library Improvement Reserve Fund (LIRF) for repairs to the Baugher Center Patio and replacement of the Thomas Branch staff entry doors at the Porter County Council’s Aug. 27 meeting. The request was tabled at the Council’s June meeting due to confusion about WPL’s funding authority. Stamm thinks the work can still be done this year if the request is approved later this month and reached out to the vendors who quoted the work at a total of $37,931.76 to keep the price set at that rate.

In July, 35,788 people visited WPL. 1,886 people attended 56 Library programs, and 133 people used Library meeting rooms.

Hoosier S.T.A.R.T.

Stamm recommended that WPL opt-in to the Hoosier S.T.A.R.T deferred compensation plan for state and local government employees. Stamm said Hoosier S.T.A.R.T is a “robust and successful” program that she’s seen generate a lot of interest from employees at other libraries. Over 300 local government units, including lots of libraries, have opted-in.

WPL already offers a deferred compensation plan to its full-time employees through Fidelity, but Stamm suggested opening Hoosier S.T.A.R.T. enrollment to part-time employees as well, as long as they have been employed for at least six months. Currently, only two employees take advantage of the Fidelity plan.

“I think it’s important to offer it to part-time staff. If they’ve got longevity, and they’ve been here for their six months, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to defer some of their money from their paychecks for retirement,” Stamm said.

The Board took no further action to allow Board Attorney Terry Hiestand time to learn more about the program.

Bed Bug Policy

The Board also passed a policy creating protocols to prevent bed bug problems at the Library.

Stamm was reminded that WPL doesn’t have a written plan of action for preventing bed bugs when a library director in a town several hours away contacted her recently for advice on a bed bug issue.

Stamm dealt with a severe bed bug problem at a former library in a different part of the state, so she knows firsthand that getting rid of an established problem is not only a pain, but can cost thousands of dollars. “There’s no reason to suspect anything. I just thought to do this now so we won’t have the issue,” Stamm said.

Stamm said she’ll be training staff on how to recognize the signs of bed bugs in library materials. Many public places with lots of foot traffic are susceptible to bed bugs, Stamm said. Libraries are even more at risk with a constant rotation of materials going from home to home in their communities.

Per the new policy, staff are asked to check all materials and donations for signs of bed bugs and appropriately handle any that show signs. Patrons are also asked to alert a WPL staff member if they find a bed bug or signs of them, on WPL premises. Patrons who have bed bugs in their homes are asked not to borrow library materials until they’ve solved the issue. If a patron finds a WPL item outside the Library that shows signs of bed bugs, he or she is asked to seal the item in a plastic bag before returning it to WPL and to hand it directly to a staff member--not use the book drop.


The Board approved the 2020 budget for publication. WPL’s total 2020 budget is $3,679,571. Only one line item was changed since the Board approved the draft budget, and it changed by only one dollar due to rounding cents. The Board will hold a special meeting to formally adopt the 2020 budget on Sept. 26.



Posted 8/13/2019




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