Public Library Board of Trustees approved a proposal for a facilities needs
assessment on the three WPL-owned buildings at its meeting last night.
Lisa Stamm reported CSK Architects will do the assessment for $14,500, which
is a competitive price they offer to libraries. CSK comes highly recommended
by other area library directors and has recently worked with both the Lake
County and Porter County library systems, according to Stamm.
Stamm said the goal
of the study is to help the Board and library staff develop a capital
improvements plan for using the funds built up in WPL’s Library Improvement
Reserve Fund (LIRF). The roughly $8 million in LIRF has been building up
since WPL’s inception, and the Board approved use of the funds for the first
time last year, for a replacement of the Baugher Center Patio and new secure
doors at the Thomas Branch staff entrance.
Stamm said WPL has
needed renovations for some time, but she was also partially motivated to
start the process since legislation passed last year could pose a threat to
libraries like WPL that have accumulated more than 150% of their annual
operating budgets in reserve. The law allows local government bodies to take
fiscal oversight of their corresponding libraries with the option to reduce
a library’s budget by up to 10%.
assessment will identify and value the most urgent needs, inside and out, at
the Thomas and Hageman branches and the Baugher Center. The Westchester
Township History Museum is not included because WPL leases it from the
Duneland School Corporation; however, the Museum was evaluated in a Duneland
Schools facilities assessment in October.
Stamm said she some
issues are glaring, such as cramped bathrooms that are difficult for patrons
with accessibility issues to navigate and HVAC systems that are hanging on
by a thread. The study will also delve into space utilization and other
interior improvements. Results will be back in March. Board member Kathy
Cochran and Board President Rondi Wightman were especially excited about the
quick turnaround and low cost.
The Board voted to
transfer 10% of its 2019 operating budget ($355,514) into the Rainy Day
Fund. The Board typically deposits between five and 10% of the prior year’s
budget into the Rainy Day Fund each January.
The Board also
approved Stamm to schedule annual staff in-service days and staff holiday
breakfasts without consulting the Board going forward. The 2020 staff
in-service day will be Aug. 28. The holiday breakfast is still to be
Stamm reported the
migration of WPL’s online calendar software from the old system to a new
more interactive system was planned for Jan. 7, but there have been some
technical issues. The new software, once live, will allow patrons to make
online reservations for meeting rooms.
Work was done on
three heating units at the Baugher Center and an external light at the
Hageman Branch for $1,200 and $1,535, respectively.
WPL’s new Young
Adult Librarian is Sionna Hartigan, who Stamm described as “a powerhouse of
ideas.” She’s relocating from New Jersey and begins at the end of January.
In December, 29,441
patrons visited WPL. 546 people attended 19 WPL programs, and 227 people
used library meeting rooms.
Board of Finance
After the regular
meeting, the Board reconvened as the Board of Finance to reorganize. The
Board of Finance elected the same slate of officers as the regular Board and
reviewed and reapproved its investment policy with no changes.