Chesterton Tribune

All township library buildings report visitation increases in 2010

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With the popularity of downloadable media, Westchester Public Library now will begin reporting circulation statistics for audio books and e-books.

Library director Phil Baugher said Thursday that from May to Dec. 31 of last year, 700 items were borrowed from Overdrive, one of two downloadable services the library provides. In the first nine days of this year, 79 items were downloaded.

There are now 882 audio books and 504 e-books in the collection, some shared with all participating libraries in the group and some available only to WPL patrons.

The library’s downloadable services, available on its website or at library buildings, offer free download to registered patrons for a designated period of time to home computers or for transfer to portable devices like smartphones and MP3 players.

Overall WPL circulation of materials for 2010 was down 1.76 percent from the previous year, however, visitor count at Chesterton’s Thomas Library increased by 8 percent to 171,839 patrons and by 18 percent at Porter’s Hageman Library to 26,246 patrons.

With more programs offered at the Library Service Center in 2010, visitor count there increased 10 percent to 29,550 and at the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum by 11 percent to 9,276 visitors.

With patrons increasingly able to access information themselves at home or on-the-go, WPL’s web page hits dropped 36 percent in 2010 to 158,584 visits.

In other business, Library Board members were discouraged to learn the best interest rate offered on a planned investment of $5 million this year was 0.50 percent at Centier Bank. WPL has $6.59 million in all accounts, saving for a possible expansion of Thomas Library some day, and invests the funds not need for operating expenses.

Baugher said in 2010 WPL earned only $30,441 in interest on similar investments with interest rates ranging from 0.56 to 0.65 percent.

WPL attorney Terry Hiestand said the $5 million is not an attractive investment for banks because the library must have the money returned to its fund of origin before Dec. 31 of each year. Baugher said he did find a 1.2 percent interest rate available at a Michigan bank but it’s not a designated depository.

The Library Board voted 7-0 to transfer $279,405 or 10 percent of its approved 2010 operating budget to the Rainy Day Fund for the purpose of future repair, remodeling or construction.

In other business:

• Members unanimously recommended that the Westchester Township Advisory Board reappoint Vern Odom and the Duneland School Board reappoint Nick Tilden when their Library Board terms expire in March.

• Baugher updated the board on proposed legislation in the Indiana General Assembly. One bill would give the Porter County Council the power to approve library budgets; although appointed by elected officials, some question why an appointed Library Board should be able to levy a tax.

• The board acknowledged long-time library supporter Sophie Thanos-Misner for arranging for a $1,000 donation to the Friends of the Library in memory of her son Mark Thanos and his father John, who both died September, 2008 while rescuing a child from floodwaters.

• The board also reviewed and approved its bylaws as annually required, and reconvened as a Board of Finance to review investments and elect officers.


Posted 1/14/2011