Chesterton Tribune



Hageman restrooms next in line for WPL upgrades / renovations

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Bids are now being sought for a renovation of the Hageman Library restrooms in Porter.

The planned changes will make the restrooms there handicapped accessible. The Westchester Public Library Board, which Thursday reviewed the project drawings and specifications done by architect Scott Virtue, hopes to award the winning bid May 9.

WPL director Phil Baugher also displayed Virtue’s concept for interior renovation of the exhibit area at the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum, located in the Brown Mansion. The exhibit area is a much later addition to the historic home.

WPL leases the Brown Mansion from the Duneland School Corporation, but Baugher said the library will pay for the remodeling pending Duneland’s approval of the final plans for both permanent and temporary exhibits; renovations include creating a more open concept, new wallcoverings, carpets and displays.

If funding allows this year, WPL may remodel the lower-level restrooms at the Library Service Center. The main-floor LSC restrooms were the first to be updated last year followed by the original restrooms at Thomas Library in Chesterton.

Both Thomas and Hageman opened in 1975; the LSC, a former bank operations center, was purchased in 1995.

Baugher reported the theme of this summer’s popular youth reading program will be trains. The Thomas Children’s Department is being transformed into a train station, and the wrap-up party will be in downtown Thomas Centennial Park, once known as Rail Road Park where performers and artists entertained on flat-bed railroad cars parked on a siding.

The cost to upgrade the Thomas elevator climbed again to a final $25,188 after it was determined no emergency light was in place. The project began when a new system-wide WPL fire alarm system was installed and the elevator interface required the addition of an ADA-complaint phone and other modifications.

Welcomed to the Library Board were new members Kathy Cochran appointed by the Duneland School Board, and Mike Livovich by the Porter County Council. The pair will be given an orientation by Baugher and supplied with background information related to the ongoing development of a WPL investment strategy.

The board again engaged in a lengthy discussion about the options with WPL attorney Terry Hiestand. It was agreed a representative of Horizon Bank will attend the May 9 meeting to explain the services it could provide. A consultant from Umbaugh & Associates previously addressed the board.

WPL has $7.3 million in all banks with $6.6 million currently invested with Horizon. Money is being saved for future expansion/remodeling of library facilities.

Space is becoming a problem in the Audio/Visual Department, said Baugher. AV is processing over 400 new books on CD. Other collections are being weeded, and taller shelving units might be a temporary fix. The director noted that as more content is delivered electronically, the space crunch may somewhat resolve itself.

Also during Thursday’s meeting:

* Baugher said circulation was up at Thomas and Hageman last month, although visitor count at the museum was down. Webpage hits and wireless internet users at WPL facilities showed strong gains.

* Next week WPL’s integrated library system that handles circulation, acquisitions and cataloging functions among others will be upgraded.

* Baugher announced for 2012, WPL ranked third out of 54 Hoosier libraries having comparable budgets using a Library Journal index based on 2010 data. WPL ranked 426 out of 7,570 total U.S. public libraries, and 14th out of all 238 Indiana libraries.

* Twelve tutors have volunteered for the new WPL program, and 35 students signed up for assistance; more tutors are needed.

* Twenty-three volunteers are ready to distribute free books supplied by publishers April 23 in support of World Book Night.

* The Library Board reviewed and reaffirmed its patron conduct policy, problem patron manual and policy on how to respond to emergencies. April 17 representatives of both the Chesterton and Porter police departments will conduct training for WPL employees on library safety and security.



Posted 4/12/2013