Chesterton Tribune



Library board discusses long term planning

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Board member Mike Livovich suggested at the Westchester Public Library Board’s meeting Thursday that the Board should start a committee to plan for WPL’s future.

Livovich said he’d like to see the Board renew its 2016 efforts to establish long-term goals. WPL currently has a long-range plan that establishes community needs and service goals through the end of 2020.

Though a committee formed for the purpose of coming up with a long-term vision for WPL stalled in its early stages a few years back, Livovich said the exchange of ideas was “a healthy thing,” and he thinks now is the time to resume that work.

While Board Secretary Michele Corazzo said she was glad Livovich renewed the discussion, the rest of the Board was more skeptical.

Treasurer Drew Rhed asked what specifically Livovich envisioned the committee doing, and said he’d prefer it have a more definite purpose. The committee would be tasked with “looking to the future, in big ways, in very broad strokes at first, and then boiling it down,” according to Livovich. “It seems a fairly pedestrian idea as far as I’m concerned to have a committee that would think about the future,” Livovich added.

Member Kathy Cochran, for her part, said the Board should only undertake long-range planning on the advice of the Library Director and possibly with the help of a consultant.

Member Abbe Trent asked WPL Director Lisa Stamm’s thoughts on starting a planning committee. Stamm said now isn’t the right time, especially since it could lead to renovations while she’s still working on implementing up-to-date best practices since she started at WPL in early 2018 and is hoping to hire more professional staff.

Cochran agreed: “It’s good management to make sure your house is in order because you get better people when your house is in order.”

In the same vein, Board Attorney Terry Hiestand said the Board should remember that WPL doesn’t have an assistant director, though hiring one is “an idea that’s percolated for a long time.”

“We should think about the issue of having an assistant director before you come up with a new responsibility for the Director,” Hiestand said.

Stamm said her recent overhaul of WPL’s website was a major step toward attracting experienced applicants for professional library positions, including assistant director.

Livovich said he was prepared to keep raising the issue at future meetings, to which Rhed asked, “If you’re going to bring it back next month, and the next, why don’t you have a game plan?”

Rhed said previous committee meetings on the subject were a lot of talk and “wild goose chase ideas,” and though that can be productive, it can also take time away from the sitting director.

Vice-president Nick Tilden said, “Mike makes a good point that we need to keep long-term goals in mind. We all love the Library and want to make sure that it succeeds in the future,” but added that WPL is moving in a good direction right now, and starting a long-range planning project could disrupt the progress.

Cochran said the Board should also keep in mind that its position is to make policy, and their policymaking shouldn’t get in the way of WPL’s day-to-day management. She said, once the Board starts long-range planning and talking renovations, “everything we do could take away from the actual needs or the function of the Library.”

Cochran said the Board can keep long-range goals in mind without starting a formal process, and encouraged Livovich to gather and share information. “If you find an article, and you want to circulate that, I’ll read it. If you want to have a cup of coffee just so we keep our heads library-focused, we can do that too,” she said.


Posted 9/16/2019




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