Chesterton Tribune

Library eyes adding more bandwith as public access Internet use soars

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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 capacity.

Westchester Public Library director Phil Baugher told the Library Board on Thursday that he and IT manager Mike Acsbok are investigating how to add additional capacity.

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 current capacity.

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.

Adult Learning Center

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 hit.

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 for youngsters.

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 resources.”

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 between systems.

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 month.

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.

The popular 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.


Posted 9/10/2010