Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Library board approves draft 2020 budget

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By LILY REX

The Westchester Public Library Board of Trustees approved a draft of the 2020 WPL budget at its meeting Thursday night.

Library Director Lisa Stamm reported the budget hasn’t changed much from last year. The draft budget puts 2020 operating costs at $3,686,017, which is up from $3,555,142 last year for an increase of $130,875.

Stamm said the main differences are that she zeroed out the line item for an annual transfer to WPL’s Library Improvement Reserve Fund (LIRF) due to HEA 1343, new legislation that limits libraries in Indiana to holding no more than 150% of their annual operating budgets in reserve funds. Last year, $100,442 was transferred to LIRF.

Stamm instead put that money toward increasing the line items for furniture and equipment by a total of $107,287.

In terms of materials, Stamm allocated less for CDs due to declining demand, and increased funding for buying downloadable materials, such as audio book and ebooks, by 12.5%. The amount allocated for books increased from $275,000 in 2019 to $284,000 in the 2020 draft.

Policy Updates

In other business, the Board approved some changes to WPL’s Unacceptable Behavior policy. Following patron complaints and littering on the Thomas Branch lawn, Stamm recommended the policy be updated to require patrons who smoke outside the Library to stand at least 15 feet away instead of eight feet away, and added language regarding vaping and e-cigarettes. She also updated the behavior policy to require that service animals in the Library always be in the care of their owners and animals cannot be left unattended outside the Library.

The Board also approved Stamm’s reconfiguration of WPL’s policy on releasing patron records to law enforcement. Stamm said the new “Confidentiality of Patron Records” policy replaces two outdated policies, and the new policy is modeled after best practice language to protect patrons’ information from casual inquiries.

Dune Acres Lot

Board Attorney Terry Hiestand reported that Dune Acres Clerk-treasurer Jan Bapst contacted him to say the Dune Acres Town Council may be interested in acquiring a Library-owned lot in Dune Acres. Hiestand said the lot was gifted to WPL in the estate of the late Walter Placko in 2014. It’s about one acre, and comparable properties are selling in the $150,000 range. “I do believe at this time or sometime in the future it’s still going to be a marketable site,” he said.

The Board was in consensus that they’re in no rush to offload the parcel, but will examine the matter further if a formal proposal is made. Board member Michele Corazzo had specific qualms about WPL, a public entity, selling or gifting the lot to a what is essentially a gated community.

Librarian’s Report

Summer reading 2019, “A Universe of Stories,” is in full-swing, with approximately 300 children, 60 teens, and 175 adults signed-up. Stamm said more than 200 patrons attended the summer reading kick-off event at the Baugher Center.

Stamm reported she created a “Patron Request for Resolution” form that patrons can use to request a different resolution in certain cases if they’ve lost Library privileges. Her creation of the form follows her promise to make one available after a patron’s Library privileges were suspended indefinitely when he apparently brought drugs into the Library and overdosed in a bathroom last month.

Stamm emphasized that the form isn’t to be used for challenging decisions about patron behavior or complaints, but is a useful tool for cases where extenuating circumstances come into play. Stamm said last month that the patron involved in last month’s incident will be allowed to request a restoration of his privileges after one year.

Stamm announced that WPL will be a U.S. Census job application site Wednesday, June 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Thomas Branch and 1 to 3 p.m. at the Hageman Branch. U.S. Census staff will be at WPL at those times to help interested people apply for 2020 census jobs.

In May, 31,018 people visited the Library. 37 programs had 667 attendees, and 289 people used Library meeting rooms.

 

 

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