Chesterton Tribune                                                                                   Adv.

Library summer reading program sets record

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By PAULENE POPARAD

Participation in the Westchester Public Library summer reading program has continued to climb annually, and 2009 is no exception.

The Library Board on Thursday learned a record 768 children joined in the fun at Thomas and Hageman libraries compared to 724 last year; in 2004 only 505 participated.

Bailly Elementary School had 101 students in the WPL reading program; Brummitt Elementary, 61; Jackson Elementary, 57; Liberty Elementary, 56; Yost Elementary, 70; St. Patrick School, 68; Chesterton Middle School, 19; Liberty Intermediate, 26; Westchester Intermediate, 69; Duneland Montessori, 9; Chesterton Montessori, 27; Fairhaven, 23; Homeschool, 42; Preschool, 109; and other, 31.

“Our Children’s Departments are doing a great job,” said library director Phil Baugher. “I think the whole staff should be commended.” Library Board members concurred.

WPL also conducted young-adult summer reading programs with 55 participating at Thomas in Chesterton and five at Hageman in Porter; 77 attended special-project workshops. Baugher said not nearly as many adults --- 63 --- were involved in the Thomas adult reading program this year compared to 85 last year. There were 11 adult readers participating at Hageman.

Library Board member Karen Nash said her recent visit to Hageman was enjoyable. “It absolutely blew me away how crisp and clean and welcoming it looked. Everything just looked so orderly. It really was noticeable. They’re doing a great job.”

This Saturday at Hageman there will be a special paperback book sale with proceeds being earmarked for the Hageman gift fund.

In other business, the Library Board voted 7-0 publicly to discharge WPL’s information technician and to deny a request for accrued vacation pay based on library policy. The decision came following a closed board executive session to discuss a job performance evaluation of an individual employee. Baugher’s computer recently had a catastrophic failure and it was learned some systems were not backed up as thought.

Hired Thursday was Michael Acsbok as the new information technician effective Aug. 31. With a resignation and return to school in the clerk ranks, interviews will take place this week for replacements.

Talk of budgets --- 2008, 2009 and 2010 --- led to another revised schedule for next year’s with a special meeting Oct. 22 for hearing and adoption. Baugher said he learned last week that WPL’s official 2008 budget order was issued June 5 of this year but never mailed to the library. “What this means is we now have authority to spend money in 2008,” quipped Baugher. Porter County has yet to make a final property tax distribution for 2008 so he said it’s not known how much money is actually left.

Baugher said the library might receive its 2009 approved budget sometime this fall. The proposed 2010 budget has to go before the Porter County Council Sept. 28 for a non-binding recommendation. Baugher said currently WPL has $4.1 million in operating funds and investments but hasn’t received any tax dollars in 2009. The budgets will be impacted by a 15 percent jump in WPL’s health insurance premium.

The Library Board regretfully said good-bye to 16-month member Keith Davison after it was learned he is not a resident of Westchester Township as required. Drew Rhed attended the meeting and is interested in replacing Davison; township trustee Suzanne Philbrick will make the appointment.

Circulation for the month of July was up 3 percent at Thomas and 12.13 percent at Hageman or 3.39 percent system-wide, and year-to-date it’s up just over 7 percent overall. Through July 231,010 materials were circulated. Although Baugher said he’s confident in the accuracy of the July numbers, he’s discovered many of the 2008 and 2009 reports were inaccurate and need to be revised.

Each individual occasion of service to a patron is known as a public service unit. In July, WPL’s increased by 7 percent and year-to-date by 10 percent to 553,786 total PSUs.

Baugher advised the board WPL has had problems accessing some of its online databases due to new interfaces from its vendors, but he is working to resolve the situation. WPL staff recently attended an educational presentation regarding internet social networking sites to better assist patrons.

The director said library groups on both sides of the issue are gearing up for an anticipated renewed effort in Indianapolis to consolidate various local units of government in the next General Assembly session this fall. In the previous session consolidation of libraries was proposed but never contained in a final bill. The WPL board is on record opposed to consolidation.

Baugher announced a public telephone for local calls only has been installed in the Thomas Library lobby.

Tonight is WPL’s final outdoor summer film and concert in Thomas Centennial Park in downtown Chesterton; several of the events had to be moved indoors this season due to frequent rain. At 7 p.m. For Amusement Only will entertain followed by the PG-rated family film “Inkheart” at 8 p.m.

 

Posted 8/14/2009

 

 

 

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