Chesterton Tribune



Library eyes photo ID check for borrowers

Back To Front Page


Westchester Public Library Board members agreed to consider streamlining their circulation procedure by having a photo of the library-card holder pop up on the employee check-out screen to verify identity at the time materials are loaned.

The option was discussed Thursday but no final action was taken. Board members said provisions could be made for persons who donít want their photo to be taken.

Although a patron has their own library card, WPL also keeps on file signature cards and parent-consent forms to allow lending by minors. After decades of borrowing, WPL circulation manager Claire Williams said there are boxes and boxes of cards now stored.

Library Board president Nick Tilden asked if WPLís computer system could handle adding so many photos to the circulation program. IT manager Mike Acsbok said it easily can be done.

Library director Phil Baugher brought up the discussion, saying many librarires have abandoned collecting and maintaining the signature cards.

Williams, who made no recommendation either way, said having photo identification would solve some problems.

Itís rare but patrons have had the same name, she explained; some try to use another personís library card (at times when an outstanding library fine is due); women and children sometimes do change their last names; and some patrons are blocked from borrowing.

Williams also said some libraries ask for a birth date or drivers license number to obtain a library card, but WPL does not. Board member Kathryn Cochran said if the WPL circulation procedure is changed, patrons could sign their library cards to eliminate the separate signature cards.

Board members noted photo identification on member cards is being used by retail merchants like Costco, but Baugher said WPLís photos would not appear on the library card and would be considered confidential information.

Williams said by having photos pop up, the advantage for circulation clerks would be theyíd know youíre not your 16-year-old son, your neighbor or a niece.

Baugher noted if a child or person goes missing while on library property, having their photo on file would enable staff immediately to begin a search.

Baugher recommended abandoning the signature cards but said it would be a lot of work to revamp the circulation policy; he suggested giving more thought to the matter before the March 13 meeting.

In other business, the Library Board discussed and plans to revisit next month an updated employment policy and procedures. The policy would require employment decisions be made in a manner that will advance the principles of equal employment opportunity and affirmative action.

A special meeting tentatively was set for 7 p.m. Feb. 20 to interview candidates to replace retiring Library Board member Claire Jolie. The boardís selection would be a recommendation only to the appointing authority. Member Drew Rhedís term also is expiring but heís seeking reappointment.

Board members also agreed that at the next opportunity the position of manager of the WPL Childrenís Department should be a professional librarian with a masterís degree is Library Science. Baugher said at one time WPL had five librarians; now there are three.

He reported the 2014 WPL budget was certified by state tax officials at $3,022,670 with $2,694,362 of that raised through a $0.1763 property tax rate per each $100 of assessed valuation. The library districtís assessed valuation was set at $1.5 billion.

Baugher said this yearís budget is 2.6 percent above 2013 as anticipated and no changes will be required. In all funds WPL has $7.9 million, most of that in investments.

WPL purchased a new popcorn machine, used for library films and other events, with a $1,500 donation from the Chesterton-Porter Rotary. Both groups will use the machine.

It was announced the Friends of the Library donated $7,000 to the WPL adult programs gift fund.

Posted 2/14/2014