Chesterton Tribune

Jane Walsh-Brown to retire from library

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Westchester Public Library assistant director Jane Walsh-Brown plans to retire at the end of this year.

WPL director Phil Baugher made that announcement at Thursday’s Library Board meeting. “It’s sad for us but opens up a new chapter in Jane’s life and that’s exciting for her.”

The Library Board set a special meeting for May 19 at 7:30 p.m. to discuss staffing needs in light of Walsh-Brown’s retirement after 36 years with the system.

In addition to being a professional librarian, she is also 15-year curator of the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum, located in the Brown Mansion since 2005.

Said Walsh-Brown, 64, last night, “It’s not an easy decision for me and I’m somewhat emotional about (retiring) but it’s a good decision for my family.” She plans to stay involved with the museum by assembling WPL’s own archives. “I’ve lived through most of it so I’ll be a good one to do it.”

Baugher said the Library Board needs to decide whether to accept his recommendation to hire a professional librarian and a museum curator, or whether to combine both positions as Walsh-Brown has done. Since he wants to have the new hire(s) on board for Oct. 1 to work with Walsh-Brown during a transition period, the vacancies need to be posted soon and a hiring process started.

There was support for board member Drew Rhed’s observation that the museum curator should know and understand this area.

Member Vern Odom said overseeing the museum is a multi-faceted job. With preservation, conservation, organization, cataloging, programming and fundraising among the needed skills, “It goes on and on and on. It’s a lot to think about.”

Earlier this week Walsh-Brown was recognized for service excellence by Porter County’s Indiana Dunes Tourism as a Professional of the Year for her work at WPL and the museum. When accepting the award she credited the museum staff for their help.

Last night Baugher and board members also commended WPL information technician Mike Acsbok for the job he’s doing keeping the library computer systems operational. “He’s a treasure; we’re lucky to have him,” said the director.

LSC restroom upgrade

By unanimous vote Tech Kitchen & Bath of Chesterton was awarded a $37,250 contract to upgrade the main-floor restrooms at the Library Service Center. Project architect Scott Virtue presented the proposals with base bid and alternates, which were accepted.

Also bidding were HP Construction of Westville at $41,872 and Kremke Construction of Porter at $57,029. Estimated cost for the project was $30,000.

According to Virtue, “The big question tonight is the difference between contractors, if they’re union or non-union.”

Said member Nick Tilden, “Especially where we live, unions are very important and often there’s an expectation when jobs are done they be union.” WPL attorney Terry Hiestand said that’s not a requirement but it’s customary to have the contractor agree to pay prevailing wage, which non-union Tech Kitchen & Bath indicated it would do.

The work will include renovating the outdated 1970’s restrooms, increasing functionality and making them fully handicapped accessible. Tech’s bid voluntarily includes a thicker countertop and replacing the suspended ceiling.

Kids e-books coming

As the popularity of e-books continues to soar, Baugher said he has subscribed to TumbleBooks, an online service for children.

Many of the books have an audio read-along feature that provides narration while highlighting the text. In addition to the basic easy-reader collection, WPL plans to provide TumbleReadables with more advanced chapter books for older readers.

Board members reviewed the April and year-to-date circulation reports trying to spot trends and indicators in a mixed bag of statistics. Overall 2011 circulation is down 1.79 percent with 119,261 items circulated but Odom noted Chesterton’s Thomas and Porter’s Hageman libraries are at a disadvantage. “Both towns are pretty well torn up” with road closures due to construction.

At Hageman this summer Beginning American Sign Language classes for students entering 3rd through 5th Grade will be taught June 15 through July 20 on Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Registration is limited.

Beginning Spanish for students going into 4th through 6th Grade also will be offered at Hageman July 19 through Aug. 11 on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. Registration is limited.

Baugher said the recent Friends of the Library spring book sale resulted in a $5,000 donation to WPL’s gift fund. He also noted with regret the passing of Audrey Lipinski, a long-time library supporter.


Posted 5/13/2011