The Westchester Public Library Board lost a combined 45 years of experience
Thursday with the retirements of long-time members Rick Hokanson and Sharon
Hokanson has served a total 29 years on the board and Robbins 16 years.
Library director Phil Baugher presented each with a large, matted frame
containing updated color photos of Thomas and Hageman libraries, the Library
Service Center and the historic Brown Mansion in which the WPL-operated
Westchester Township History Museum is located.
“Sharon, Rick, you were responsible for much of this,” said Baugher in
making the presentation.
Addressing them, member Drew Rhed said, “Between the rest of us, we have
about half the years you’ve put in. We should give them the tribute they’re
due.” The board plans to host a private farewell dinner for Hokanson and
She was known as the board’s official grammarian, and as the senior member
it was Hokanson’s role to move to adjourn each meeting. “It’s bittersweet; I
move we adjourn,” he said Thursday.
One of the two vacancies on the seven-member board has been filled. The
Duneland School Board recently appointed Kathy Cochran of Porter, who
attended the meeting but will take her seat next month. The Porter County
Council’s appointment is pending.
During annual reorganization the board unanimously elected Nick Tilden
president, Rhed vice-president, Michele Corazzo secretary and Abbe Trent
The board accepted the $21,962 proposal of Kone, WPL’s current
elevator-repair contractor, to install fire-alarm interface and fire-recall
software on the 1975 Thomas elevator. The project includes installation of a
hands-free emergency elevator phone. Urban Elevator at $23,400 was the only
other firm to bid.
The work is tied to the new fire alarm system in all WPL buildings that is
active and tested. Additional fire drills will take place soon.
The alarm system is part of expanding technology at WPL on several levels.
A new video security system has been installed and an internet-based
telephone system is planned. Web links were added to the WPL website, and
the integrated library computer system is scheduled for an April upgrade.
Tablet readers loaded with newspaper and magazine links will be placed in
the Thomas reading room soon.
Baugher said at some point WPL will need to expand its IT staff beyond
information technician Mike Acsbok and his assistant as patrons will require
greater access to electronic resources, more classes, more hours of
assistance at help desks and more instruction how to use new technologies.
Use at WPL of its wireless internet, web page hits and online content jumped
substantially in the first two months of 2013. Overall circulation of
materials through February increased less than 1 percent.
Baugher reported a new evangelical group requested the use of the LSC
meeting room for a program called Snakes Alive involving nonvenomous snakes
as part of a ministry outreach. The group plans to continue use of library
facilities on a regular basis after the reptile program session.
“It’s not for us to judge what’s going on there as long as it’s legal, and
it’s legal,” Baugher told the board. “It’s not like it’s poisonous-snake
serpent handling, and there are snakes in the Bible.” WPL attorney Terry
Hiestand recommended the group provide WPL with a certificate of insurance
naming the library an additional insured for an aggregate amount of $2
Thomas branch manager Leea Yelich advised she hopes to launch WPL’s new
reading tutoring service the week of April 1. About 11 people have
volunteered and an initial orientation will take place.
The board later adopted a library-director succession policy and designated
Yelich to be the interim director in the event of the sudden loss or
interrupted service of the director.
Baugher said late this year and into 2014 the library could see significant
changes to its employee health-insurance plan due to implementation of the
Affordable Care Act. The director said he’s begun gathering information and
will monitor the situation closely.
Distributed were the patron conduct policy, the problem patron manual and an
emergency policy for review and approval next month. April 17 both the
Chesterton and Porter police departments will be invited to discuss with
staff when authorities should be called for assistance with an emergency or