Chesterton Tribune


Library director says township too small for WPL bookmobile

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A suggestion that Westchester Public Library might find several uses for a bookmobile was discussed at Thursday’s Library Board meeting but dismissed as too costly to justify.

“I don’t see it’s the type of expenditure that would be well received by our community right now at this time in this economy,” said library director Phil Baugher.

A staff member had proposed using a bookmobile for visits to the homebound WPL makes, and to participate at festivals with library programs and to encourage library-card sign-up. Baugher noted the larger Porter County library system doesn’t have a bookmobile although it did previously.

WPL board member Rick Hokanson said the only area perhaps benefiting from bookmobile services would be Burns Harbor, which Baugher said at one time was a stop for the Porter County bookmobile.

He noted the size of a library territory should justify the expense of a bookmobile, which also can be used as a temporary branch or to help determine the best location for a future library branch.

WPL’s service territory is Westchester Township and the system operates Thomas Library in Chesterton and Hageman Library in Porter.

If WPL were to consider a new branch in Burns Harbor, said Baugher, the facility and programs would have to meet state minimum standards.

Board member Sharon Robbins said as a young mother in Gary, the bookmobile was your friend. “It was a really nice thing.”

Baugher said times have changed with online library services and e-Readers making information available in new ways. Also, disabled, homebound or blind patrons can sign up for free talking books and other materials that require no postage.

WPL is branching out with an upcoming series of youth story times to be held in conjunction with some of the remaining downtown Chesterton European Markets. September is library card sign-up month and WPL also will offer to replace lost library cards free of charge; the usual cost is $1 for the first replacement card and $5 for the second.

Fine amnesty won’t be part of the September promotions, said Baugher, because people tend not to pay their fines and wait until the next amnesty if a first one is offered.

Following several months’ discussion how to better market WPL, the library is planning a newspaper insert, rack cards, advertising in local Chamber of Commerce and Chesterton High School publications, and trial daytime rental of space on the new Chamber LED advertising sign along Indiana 49.

A fall WPL display behind the Thomas reference desk will mark Banned Books Week Sept. 30-Oct. 6.

In other business, work was slated to begin today on remodeling the second-floor restrooms at Thomas Library; construction should take about one week. It’s the third recent restroom renovation at WPL facilities.

On Baugher’s recommendation the Library Board amended its long-range plan to list four community goals. Baugher said the current plan addresses community needs, but the Indiana State Library wanted goals instead.

New state legislation for public entities prompted the board with member Nick Tilden absent to revise the wording of WPL’s purchase and service contracts to require that contractors certify they do not provide goods or services of $20 million or more in value to the energy sector of Iran including petroleum, natural gas, nuclear power or fuel pipelines.

WPL circulation through August shows an overall 1.27 percent drop compared to 2011. Baugher said circulation at some neighboring libraries has dropped 7 to 9 percent this year. WPL’s cash position remains strong with $7.3 million in all funds.

The library’s proposed 2013 budget goes before the Porter County Council Sept. 25 for non-binding review. The Library Board will conduct public hearings at Thomas Library Oct. 11 and Oct. 25 with adoption slated the latter night.

In staff changes Susan Swarner was hired as museum educator at the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum at the Brown Mansion, and Pat Jackson was hired as library clerk with primary responsibilities in the Children’s Department; both positions are part-time.



Posted 9/17/2012