Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Library scraps Friday evening hours, to close Black Friday

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By LILY REX

The Westchester Public Library Board decided at its meeting Thursday that the Hageman Branch will be open later and the Thomas Branch will close earlier on Fridays beginning in May.

Later this year, Hageman’s new hours will be Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Only Fridays will change at the Thomas Branch: it will close at 6 p.m. instead of 9 p.m. The total hours that both branches are open will not change.

Library Director Lisa Stamm proposed that the change would make Hageman more accessible to patrons who work a typical schedule and that WPL employees will appreciate getting home earlier on Fridays. Stamm noted that nearby libraries aren’t open as late as the Thomas Branch is on Fridays, and it’s harder to staff those hours. The Board agreed that extra hours were better spent at Hageman.

The Baugher Center will have the same hours as the Thomas Branch on Fridays beginning in May. Hours at the Westchester Township History Museum will be unaffected.

In the meantime, Stamm said two groups that meet at the Baugher Center on Friday nights will have ample time between now and May to find new meeting spaces and the next few months should allow enough time for news of the change to get around town. “We will definitely promote. We will make sure it’s out there and that staff are telling people at desks too,” she said.

In addition to new hours, the Board approved Stamm to close all four facilities Friday, Sept. 27 this year for a staff in-service day, and approved her recommendations to close on Black Friday and close a few hours early the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Stamm recommended the change because other libraries typically close on Black Friday, and very few patrons historically visit on that day.

After a lengthy discussion, the Board also voted on making Black Friday a paid holiday for full-time employees.

Board President Rondi Wightman said she was more in favor of keeping the number of paid holidays the same by gauging employee interest in giving up a different holiday in exchange for Black Friday. Stamm suggested Good Friday could be a place to start because it is an unusual day for a Library to offer as a paid holiday, in her experience.

Wightman also wanted more concrete numbers on the Black Friday traffic. “Are we benefiting a small number of staff compared to possibly a couple hundred patrons? That’s where I’m hung up on this,” she said.

Stamm reported she worked on Black Friday and observed very little traffic coming into the Thomas Branch.

Board member Kathy Cochran said, for her part, “If children are out of school and the library numbers are still down, that suggests to me that there’s not much pressure to leave the facility open.”

Cochran added, “I think I’m in favor of closing that Friday in part because of the attractiveness factor to potential hires in the future. I think that matters quite a bit these days.”

Board member Michelle Corazzo agreed, noting that WPL’s pay isn’t exactly competitive. In fact, Stamm said it trends below the pay offered at nearby library systems. “When you’re trying to hire good people, benefits are benefits. It’s something I can offer,” Stamm said.

Board Vice-president Mike Livovich was in support of adding one more holiday. A teacher, he noted that what holidays a school district offers has factored into his job searches in the past. He also said one more holiday won’t make or break WPL’s finances. “I think this conversation would be more appropriate if we were in a position of scarcity, but we’re not.”

Board Secretary Nick Tilden and member Abbe Trent also disagreed with Wightman on trading holidays. “That doesn’t seem appropriate to me. I know you’re just trying to be a good steward of our resources, but I don’t think it’s necessary,” Tilden said.

Trent said closing early the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and a day off on Black Friday is just what WPL employees deserve. “I think that we need to give that to our employees as a gift. I don’t think we need to do a trade for another holiday,” said Trent.

The Board voted 6 to 1 with Wightman in dissent to approve Black Friday as a paid holiday.

Librarian’s Report

Stamm introduced the Board to new Children’s Department Manager Jessica Bartz. Stamm said Bartz has already proved an asset to WPL, and her first program--Kids Improv-- is coming up Wednesday, Jan. 16. Bartz said she’s glad to be at WPL and excited for the Jan. 16 program, which ties into her background in theater. “I don’t think every kid will have an interest in theater, but it actually does a lot to build confidence and social skills, things that they can carry through life,” Bartz said.

Stamm reported she will find funding for 11 employees to earn their Indiana State Library required Library Certifications. The certifications last five years and cost $50. The $550 for employee certifications will come from either the Friends of the Library or unrestricted donations.

Stamm provided the Board with two materials circulation graphs showing that digital materials have increased in popularity. One graph shows the amount of digital materials WPL patrons use has nearly tripled since 2014. Stamm said the digital versus physical debate isn’t a case of one being more popular, but more patrons wanting a mix of both.

22,866 people visited the Library in December. WPL hosted 50 programs that had 1,084 attendees. 368 people used meeting rooms.

Other Approvals

The Board approved a transfer of six percent of its total budget from 2018 into the Rainy Day Fund, which amounted to $206,294.

The Board reviewed and approved its bylaws. The only change was an update in the wording regarding the new public comment policy the Board passed in October.

The Board approved its legal services agreement with Board Attorney Terry Hiestand. There were no changes in the contract from last year.

Board of Finance

The Board adjourned its regular session and reconvened for a Board of Finance meeting. The Board of Finance officers will be the same as the Board of Trustees.

The Board reviewed and approved its investment policy, with a slight change in language Hiestand suggested. The change clarifies that the Library’s certificates of deposit and any other deposit accounts are invested in amounts that are insured by the FDIC and through FDIC-insured institutions.

Stamm provided the Board with copies of the 2018 Investment Report. WPL netted $190,010.63 in interest for 2018 and closed the year with an ending balance of $8,122,491.72 between its CDs and the Rainy Day fund.

 

Posted 1/15/2019

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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