Chesterton Tribune


Library plans digital magazine and newspaper pilot program

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Thomas Library’s magazines and newspapers are going digital.

Westchester Public Library will begin a pilot program with selected newspapers and popular magazines loaded on computer tablets.

WPL library director Phil Baugher told the Library Board that some magazines like Newsweek are abandoning their print version in exchange for all-digital publishing. Also, some newspapers limit the number of stories that can be accessed through their online versions unless the reader has a paid subscription; if WPL were the subscriber, patrons would have access to all articles and to the newspaper’s archives.

WPL plans to load tablets with related content like local newspapers; state and national newspapers; and magazines of interest related to men, women, hobbies and crafts, technology and science, popular culture, sports, history, politics/current events and health.

Baugher said one day publishers themselves may bundle access to popular magazines. “It’s something the library community and the publishing industry need to get together on. We are part of the market.”

Currently over 100 different magazines and newspapers are available at Thomas. Baugher said eliminating the hard-copy issues would save processing time as well as shelving and storage space. An additional benefit is patrons couldn’t clip or tear coupons and articles out of an electronic tablet.

If patrons did want a copy of an article, they potentially could email it to themselves and using a public access computer print it out at the library, or email it to their home and print it there.

Baugher said the tablets would be held at the Serials Department service desk and patrons who leave an acceptable form of identification could check the tablets out to read in the periodicals room. The tablets couldn’t be taken home initially.

If the pilot program is successful, the use of digital subscriptions could expand to Hageman Library in Porter. WPL now has 10 Nook eReaders each loaded with several books of related content in a pilot circulation program of its own.

Museum exhibit-space upgrade?

Baugher said possible upgrades to display areas at the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum are being investigated. The museum, located in the Brown Mansion, is a registered historic structure and is owned by Duneland School Corp., which leases the building to WPL.

Museum curator Serena Sutliff and Library Board member Michele Corazzo developed a list of wants and needs for the exhibit space, which generally is located in a later addition to the mansion. Sutliff will investigate what remodeling would be permitted under the building’s historic designation, and whether school officials would approve of some changes.

By unanimous vote with Claire Jolie and Rick Hokanson absent, the Library Board accepted the $14,885 hardware/installation bid of Martin Security Systems for remotely monitored fire alarm systems at Thomas, Hageman and the Library Service Center.

ABC Burglar Alarm Corp. bid $20,196 and Tyco Integrated Security bid $24,565. The three bidders also quoted additional monthly fees for monitoring. Baugher said the Chesterton Fire Department will be asked to review the bid specifications to confirm they meet applicable fire codes before any system is installed.

Putting WPL money to work

At its Dec. 20 meeting the Library Board will hear a presentation from H.J. Umbaugh and Associates about improving WPL’s return on investments; the library currently has $7 million in all funds, $4.9 million of that invested. Board member Drew Rhed said he’d hesitate taking WPL’s business away from local banks.

At a future meeting Umbaugh will report on WPL’s projected financial condition in the coming years to evaluate the feasibility/affordability of a major Thomas remodeling project.

In other business:

• Baugher indicated WPL’s health insurance premiums for 2013 are expected to go up about 9 percent.

• The Friends of the Library donated $5,000 to WPL’s gift fund after raising $5,162 at its fall book sale .

• The Library Board terms of Hokanson and member Sharon Robbins expire in March, and replacements with an interest in library services who have lived in Westchester Township for at least two years are needed. Letters of interest may be submitted to Baugher’s office before Dec. 20.

• WPL circulation was up 8.63 percent in October although year-to-date it’s down less than 1 percent with 314,458 items circulated. “I’m at a loss to explain the vagaries of circulation,” said Baugher. “They’re up, they’re down, and we don’t do anything radically different.” WPL recently beefed up its marketing efforts.

• Baugher said a lot of new CDs from classics to Motown as well as DVDs have been purchased for circulation.



Posted 11/12/2012