Chesterton Tribune

Library looking at remedial reading program for kids

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Westchester Public Library is looking into the possibility of offering a remedial program for youngsters who might benefit from extra reading instruction.

WPL director Phil Baugher told the Library Board that professionals are finding more early readers are having trouble reading at the level they should be.

“A lot is being done in libraries and schools to help young readers come up to speed. We’re exploring this to see what we might do to help these students,” advised Baugher.

WPL Children’s Manager Merribeth Paunica has been researching various programs that might prove to be beneficial if the one chosen is both feasible and affordable for WPL. Some volunteer tutoring might be included.

Baugher said a lot more research needs to be done. WPL would have to strike a balance between offering services to students who would benefit from remedial help while not spreading the library’s resources too thin to the detriment of other patrons.

In related news, Baugher said two student interns working on their Masters in Library Science degrees will volunteer in the Children’s Department this summer.

WPL circulation in January again showed a big jump at the recently remodeled Hageman Library in Porter. “The Hageman statistics are just outstanding,” said Library Board president Vern Odom. Agreed member Rick Hokanson, “It’s hard to believe.”

Juvenile readers and interest in new periodicals boosted Hageman circulation there by 86 percent. At Thomas Library in Chesterton there was a 1.27 percent increase over January, 2009 or a 3.95 percent circulation jump systemwide.

The Library Board voted 4-0 with members Sharon Robbins and Drew Rhed absent to approve a new lease that renews in June for WPL’s use of the Duneland School Corp. Brown Mansion. The historic 700 W. Porter Ave. building houses WPL’s Westchester Township History Museum.

The lease amount increases from $1,000 a month to $1,500. That cost includes all utilities, repairs, improvements, building insurance and parking-lot snow removal.

Said Baugher, “It’s my opinion it’s a fair amount for us to pay and the school to collect. The school is struggling (financially) and we want to pay our own way.” The state recently ordered schools to make deep budget cuts due to funding shortfalls.

It was announced that a new Spring Tea at the Museum will be a major fundraiser in lieu of the past Appraisal Fairs. May 2 various vendors will provide food and specialty items accompanied by entertainment and a new exhibit. Tickets are $20 each and a table may be reserved.

Upcoming March museum programs are Knitting Together, March 7 from 1 to 5 p.m.; Mad About Mysteries: The Golden Age, March 10 at 2 p.m. and repeated March 13 at 2 p.m.; a gallery demonstration of Scandinavian Weaving March 14 from 2 to 4 p.m.; Bookmarks at the Museum: Alex and Me March 18 at 2 p.m.; and Meet the Author: Rosemary Gard of Destiny’s Dowry including a display of Croatian textiles March 21 at 2 p.m.

The Library Board is awaiting the Duneland School Board’s appointment of the person to serve out the remaining term of WPL board member Karen Nash, who resigned.

Last month the Library Board interviewed six applicants and recommended all six to the School Board although Nick Tilden scored the highest on a ranking system. Additional names forwarded were Brandon Kroft, Rebecca Maranto, Michele Corazzo, Daniel Keilman and Tracy Freeze. Kroft since has withdrawn his name from consideration after being appointed to the Chesterton Police Commission.

In other business, Baugher said the server WPL used to host its newly revamped website was hacked, which shut down its web pages for a day. The data was restored and the server has been moved to a new off-site host.

The library’s financial status remains strong with $5.7 million in all accounts including $4.4 million in investments. WPL’s 2010 operating budget tentatively has been set at $2.79 million and the library’s capital projects fund at $144,994 by the state. The effect of the property-tax circuit breaker has yet to be calculated.

The Library Board reconvened in closed executive session at the conclusion of the public meeting for its annual evaluation of Baugher as director.

Posted 2/12/2010