Chesterton Tribune



Library seeks to broaden reach by providing more services

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A recurring theme in the Westchester Public Library Board’s extended discussion Thursday was how to attract age groups that don’t typically use WPL’s facilities and services now.

Especially of concern are young adults who more readily click Google for information than search elsewhere.

Teacher and Library Board member Mike Livovich suggested cooperative efforts with teachers, such as providing a link to WPL resources for a homework assignment, since many teachers now have their own school websites.

Board member Kathryn Cochran said WPL could expand its programming to offer ones on producing multi-media, short films, or how to make bound journals, and with the popularity of gardening try seed banking or even a tool-sharing project. “It’s one thing to know things but another to do things with what you know.”

She said partners in the community could be asked to help present the classes, and WPL could prepare bibliographies for individualized interests like home improvement.

Library director Phil Baugher said live programming is not always as successful as it used to be. Circulation also was concerning at a 14 percent drop for April and 8.8 percent year-to-date.

The discussion came about by doing a SWOT exercise to review the library’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Outreach to youth was seen as both a current weakness and an opportunity.

Member Rondi Wightman suggested live performance opportunities for youth poetry and acoustic music, and reaching out to senior citizens through already-organized clubs and groups to promote homebound services WPL now provides.

Other ideas suggested by president Michele Corazzo were expanding books on wheels to smaller Duneland towns, and free books to ER rooms, the State Park campgrounds, and nursing homes.

A coffee lounge area for laptops in Thomas Library also might be welcome, said Corazzo, but Baugher said such amenities haven’t always worked well in other libraries.

He emphasized that no matter what new program or initiative WPL undertakes, it must be weighed against loss of space for an existing use or program and how it will impact the bottom line. State tax caps cut $120,173 from the library’s 2014 budget.

Baugher explained WPL’s public computer classes are popular so he’s currently trying to find space for a permanent room where the equipment can be left ready for use, but space is at a premium.

Board member Nick Tilden said a clear threat to WPL is loss of valued personnel, especially Baugher’s planned retirement in late 2015. Cochran said mapping a long-range plan now is even more important to give guidance to the new director.

At WPL attorney Terry Hiestand’s suggestion, the library will survey patrons and non-patrons asking how their lives have been improved by using library resources and what new resources they’d like to see available. It may be that patrons want WPL to be more of a technology hub, Hiestand speculated.

Baugher said the staff has been given great ideas to explore to incorporate with its own so WPL can continue to be a strong library that meets the needs of pre-schoolers through seniors.

In other business, the board voted 5-0 with members Drew Rhed and Abbe Trent absent to expand the position of the assistant IT manager from part-time to full-time with a starting salary of approximately $25,000. Baugher said future needs will require more technical assistance for library staff and patrons.

May 24 at 2 p.m. the WPL-operated Westchester Township History Museum will reopen after a renovation of its public exhibit space at the Brown Mansion. State and local officials will be invited to view the improvements and see the library’s commitment to preserving local history.

Baugher announced proofs of WPL’s new library cards have been approved with a patron signature line on the back, and cameras for the circulation workstations will be installed soon. May 15 staff will begin taking patron photos to speed circulation although patrons may opt out. Library cards will be replaced as the current card expires.

Introduced Thursday was new WPL children’s librarian Heather Chaddock. Baugher said she’s busy organizing the summer reading programs.

Baugher circulated copies of the book Here’s Your Indiana Government and said he was disappointed to find only one line of text about libraries in the volume.


Posted 5/9/2014


Posted 5/9/2014


Posted 5/9/2014