Chesterton Tribune



Hageman restrooms will get upgrade / handicapped accessibility this summer

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The decades-old restrooms at Hageman Library in Porter will be renovated and made handicapped accessible this summer.

Meeting Thursday, the Westchester Public Library Board unanimously approved the low bid of TECH Kitchen and Bath of Chesterton at $43,900 to do the work. TECH previously remodeled the first-floor restrooms at WPLís Library Service Center.

The Hageman work wonít commence until all materials are delivered and on hand. Library director Phil Baugher said arrangements will be made to have a portable restroom onsite while the interior restrooms are out of commission.

Others bidding on the project were Vendramini Construction at $46,390 and HP Construction Services at $51,097. Vendramini last year remodeled restrooms at Thomas Library in Chesterton.

The Hageman bid award was contingent on TECH accepting standard contract clauses dealing with lien waivers, E-Verify, paying prevailing wages and providing proof of insurance coverages.

In other business, Baugher reported the library received a $10,000 donation, possibly the largest ever, from the Friends of the Library following its recent book sale. The money was deposited in the gift fund with $8,000 earmarked for adult programming and $2,000 for WPLís new Homebound Services outreach.

The Library Board also continued ongoing discussions seeking better financial strategies for the approximately $6.6 million it currently has invested. The money is being accumulated for a future WPL expansion project.

Nicole Nalepa, a trust officer with Horizon Bankís trust and investment management division, Thursday outlined Horizonís services available to WPL.

Despite the libraryís large amount to invest, rates on certificates of deposit have been low industry-wide; Nalepa said rates should improve when the demand for new mortgages increases.

Baugher has suggested hiring a firm to administer the libraryís investments to maximize return and spread the risk by placing multiple CDs in smaller amounts to assure each is protected to the extent possible under the federal deposit insurance program. The board previously heard a presentation from a representative of Umbaugh & Associates.

WPL is limited in the length and types of investments it can make because it is a government unit.

On another matter, Baugher recommended WPLís information technology specialist Mike Acsbok and a second staff member attend a major conference for internet librarians this fall. According to Baugher, itís important for the libraryís key people to attend where cutting-edge library services are explored.

Library Board members, who late last year began using laptops to have paperless meetings, on Thursday switched to tablets where their meeting reports, files and statistics were sent. Acsbok also is working this year on replacement of WPLís land-line telephone system with a hosted internet-based service, as well as on a revision of the WPL website.

Statistical activity for April showed an 807 percent jump over April, 2012 in wireless internet users at the library buildings; uses of WPL online content jump 134 percent over the same period.

Overall, April performance was up quite a bit, said Baugher. For 2013 through April, WPL had 396,747 individual occasions of service in all categories at all buildings including visitor count, a 16.15 percent increase over last yearís first four months.

Last monthís circulation showed a 4.7 percent jump over last year at Thomas Library in Chesterton and a less than 1 percent drop at Hageman. Year-to-date circulation climbed 1.69 percent systemwide with 124,741 items circulated.

In other business, the Library Board re-adopted for 2013 its current $150 per individual, non-resident fee for library use. The fee is rarely used as it applies only to someone who lives in an area not served by a library and doesnít qualify for reciprocal borrowing privileges at WPL.

Board member Michele Corazzo asked why the fee was so high if the goal is to increase library use. Baugher said itís estimated the average WPL patron who resides in Westchester Township pays $120 in property taxes and other ways to support the library system.

Baugher distributed and asked board members next month to consider approval of an updated policy regarding access to patron circulation records. After attending a recent conference the director discovered WPLís current policy doesnít define records excluded from disclosure under the Indiana Access to Public Records Act.



Posted 5/14/2013