With its patrons using public-access computers more than 5,000 times last
month alone, Thomas Library’s bandwidth usage is periodically maxing out its
Westchester Public Library director Phil Baugher told the Library Board on
Thursday that he and IT manager Mike Acsbok are investigating how to add
Thomas currently has 3 T-1 hard-wire data access lines costing about $1,800
a month. Options include adding an additional T-1 line or moving up to a
fiberoptic connection, which would cost about $2,400 a month and double the
State and federal funding each pay half of the current monthly access fees
and Baugher said while the federal commitment appears firm, there’s no
assurance the state connectivity grant will be continued. However, WPL is
required to budget for the access expense even if it doesn’t pay for it so
money would be available if necessary.
Next month the Library Board will be presented with a draft system-wide
technology plan for review that could include terminal replacement,
installing a public access terminal management system and the possibility of
installing a self-check station on the Thomas main floor.
Back in Business
In other business, the Chesterton Adult Learning Center, housed in WPL’s
downtown library service center, has reopened for the school year, Baugher
told the board. A new $20 registration fee is being charged by the Indiana
Office of Workforce Development, which operates the center.
The popular learning center, which provides a number of educational
services, had been closed for months pending a new financial backer. WPL
donates the space, utilities and maintenance.
WPL’s own pilot Read Right summer children’s program appears to have been a
A total 22 early-learner students were tutored on a one-on-one basis with 19
reaching their grade level. Comments from an exit questionnaire of program
participants praised the opportunity for remedial reading help. The program
exceeded its budgeted amount but Baugher said it was a worthwhile service
WPL’s mission, its community vision and needs, and the values that will
guide its operation are being reviewed as the Library Board embarks on an
updated long-range planning document. After an initial discussion, members
were asked to consider who are WPL’s target patrons and community audience,
what are their needs, and what strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and
threats inhibit/enhance providing them library services.
Baugher said the library mission has changed from providing education
through books to providing information using alternate formats. “In my
lifetime we’ll always have books but they will be supplemented with other
Often, non-Westchester Township patrons are using WPL materials under
reciprocal-borrowing agreements with other library districts. Last year
about 25 percent of WPL circulation or over 96,000 items were borrowed by
non-resident patrons, the majority coming from the Porter County Library
system. But Baugher said the two libraries use different automated systems
which can’t “talk” to each other to determine if a patron is blocked from
library services at their home library.
The director said he and Ascbok are working with their own Polaris system
vendor to see if an enhancement can be added to automatically verify blocks
On another matter, board members engaged in a lengthy discussion prior to
adopting amendments dealing with 13 areas in WPL’s 41-page personnel policy
and procedures. The last major revision occurrred in 2002. Baugher asked
that the changes be approved to correct some current outstanding issues he
didn’t identify; after the vote it was agreed he and WPL attorney Terry
Hiestand would review the amendments in more depth and report back next
Included among the changes or additions were work hours, access to public
records, smoking policy, to allow for employee suspension with or without
pay, employee solicitation to other staff members during non-working hours
for non-profit causes, and a new section on religious activity and religious
discrimination that prohibits harassment.
Another extended discussion was prompted by board member Drew Rhed, who
asked for clarification whether the Library Board approves staff changes
proposed by Baugher or the director in fact has authority to make them. It
was agreed past practice has been for the board to approve such changes.
Baugher suggested the policy be raised with library consultant Dan Cain, who
will be a guest of WPL Oct. 23.
Also Thursday, Baugher described as “misleading if not inaccurate” a new
website about Indiana government expenditures that states WPL’s expenditures
per capita leaped from $129.25 in 2008 to $440.24 last year. Apparently
checks written for temporary investments were calculated as purchases even
though the money is later returned to the fund of origin when the investment
matures, he said. The discrepancy has been reported to all agencies
concerned in hopes of revising the website information.
WPL assistant director Jane Walsh-Brown announced Sept. 19 a new, revised
Chesterton walking-tour guide will be available for $1 at the WPL-operated
Westchester Township History Museum, 700 W. Porter Ave. The guide includes
11 photographs and information regarding historic commercial and residential
sites in town.
musuem exhibit Lost Tourist Attractions of the Dunes has been extended
through Oct. 24. Several events, speakers and demonstrations will be
presented at the museum throughout the fall including the Mad About
Mysteries series. Oct. 9 a one-day history of Westchester Township will be
captured photographically in WPL’s second A Day in the Life project.