Chesterton Tribune



History meets technology at Township Museum historic photo website

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Residents of Duneland can turn their computers, or any device that will connect to the internet, into their own museums with the Westchester Public Library’s PastPerfect software program.

Launched in December, anyone from around the world can look at hundreds, and soon thousands, of historical photographs from the Prairie Club, the Chesterton Tribune photo archives, and the Flora Richardson Foundation online at

Museum Curator Serena Sutliff gave the WPL Board of Directors a peek at how the site works Thursday. Currently there are 798 photos uploaded to the site, most of which are Prairie Club photos that date back to 1908. Tribune photos, which were given to the museum by the late publisher Warren H. Canright, are being added now.

Sutliff said a media graphics student is digitizing the photos from the collections and is uploading about 50 per week using an Epson 1100 XL-PH flatbed scanner.

And there is still much work to do. Sutliff said there is a total of roughly 15,000 pictures.

“I’m guessing it’s going to be four or five years before all the pictures are up,” she told the board.

Sutliff first learned about the PastPerfect software and asked former WPL Director Phil Baugher about getting it for the museum in 2013. Baugher had told her he would see if there was room in the budget.

WPL paid for a $2,000 update last year and Sutliff said the yearly fee is $350.

Photos are stored on an external hard drive for the archives and the museum will be able to keep the scanned images even if something happens to PastPerfect, Sutliff said, but it’s likely not to go away anytime soon since the software is used by over 9,500 museums.

“It’s made by museum people for museum people,” she said.

Site visitors can type in a keyword into the database, such as Indiana Dunes, and peruse all the photographs that match that category. Each photo is indicated by what collection it is from, and some have descriptions of who or what is in them with information found on the back of the original photographs.

Sutliff said she thinks many people will get a kick out of the Prairie Club photos, as members sported the new fashions of the time. The group, most of them from Chicago, would take hikes at the Dunes on Saturday afternoons. “They were very forward thinking people at the time,” she said.

She added that it’s also interesting to see the Dunes as they were before there were homes, businesses and steel mills.

The database can also be accessed via the home page of the WPL website by clicking on “Search Library Databases.” It is free for anyone to use.

“I think it’s really exciting,” said WPL Board member Michael Livovich.

WPL Salary study

In business matters Thursday, the board agreed to initiate a salary study for full-time Library managers, looking into the possibility of increasing what they earn. WPL Director Leea Yelich suggested the study after one employee was considering taking a job offer elsewhere because of a higher salary.

“We need to make sure we are comparable and competitive with other (library) organizations in the area,” Yelich said. The budget has room for increases with anticipated savings in the group insurance plan, she said.

Board members supported having the study done but advised Yelich a decision to increase the salaries won’t be right away, especially since the 2016 budget and salaries have already been adopted.

Also, the Board intends to meet in executive session sometime soon to discuss the possible acquisition of a 1.5-acre parcel near the Ind. 49 and U.S. 20 cloverleaf. The property owner has been trying to sell the land for some years now and is considering donating it to WPL.


Posted 2/15/2016





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