Chesterton Tribune



Library survey could be future project for Future of Chesterton Foundation

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The Westchester Public Library Board may get some help from Chesterton High School students this year in envisioning what a library will look like ten to twenty years from now.

The board over the last few months has discussed the prospect of doing a community survey to plan ways to deliver services in the future, taking into account advances in technology.

At Thursday’s Board meeting, Gerald Pannekoek spoke to the board about the Future of Chesterton Foundation which he helped launch nearly a decade ago with Eric Kroeger for economic students, to impede the “brain drain” in the Duneland area. He said it was possible the survey could become a project for the Foundation in the next school year.

The Foundation works each year with the high school to do projects for businesses in the community and sometimes Chesterton Town Government. The classes, made up of mostly juniors and seniors, compete with each other on the projects. In eight to ten weeks, they conduct research, speak with similar organizations elsewhere to learn what they have done and make suggestions from the information they collect.

“Our interest is we want to create value for all stakeholders in this and particularly the youth. You’ll be surprised with the results they come up with,” Pannekoek said.

Past projects have included writing ordinances for the Town of Chesterton and hiring a Town Manager, Pannekoek said. The Foundation, which is administrated through the Porter County Community Foundation, provides $500 scholarships to students who become leaders in the classes and opportunities for internships.

If the Library survey is selected as a project, the students would design the plan based on the problem or question the Library is facing, Pannekoek said. The time to submit the query would be by April, he said, so the Foundation can coordinate the class with the high school.

Board member Michelle Corazzo, who suggested last month the board look into the possibility of working with the Foundation, said the board is still deciding what specific question it wants to address, since the focus is the future.

Board attorney Terry Hiestand said it’s a question of what needs the library will have decades into the future rather than now.

“What we are trying to wrestle with is design of a delivery vehicle that will be able to provide information 20 years from now that we don’t even know exists. The challenge is to see the information but how is that going to make demands on our facilities,” Hiestand said, adding that the Westchester Public Library System has been able to keep up with new technology.

“I’ve been here for 45 years and the changes are just remarkable. (WPL) has been at the forefront but you keep having to reinvent yourself because the information technology changes so fast,” Hiestand said.

Pannekoek said asking about technology can be incorporated into the assignment. He said school-age students are probably the best group to envision where technology and communication are heading since they use it the most in their everyday lives.

Board member Michael Livovich said the board should have more conversation on this to get something in place by April. He, Corazzo, Board President Kathryn Cochran and WPL Director Leea Yelich will form a committee to work on the matter.

Yelich said she thinks the students will enjoy being involved in the project. “When they are adults, they might come here and say, ‘I helped create this.’ I think that would be really interesting.”

Cochran said she sees this being “a great synergy” between the schools and the library.

Board member Rondi Wightman asked Pannekoek if homeschooled students would have the chance to work on this project since many of them use the Library. Pannekoek said he thinks it is something that can be arranged.

Meeting Room policy

In other business Thursday, the board voted unanimously on approving revisions to the Library’s meeting room policy.

Groups wishing to meet during hours that libraries are not open must pay for a library staff member to open and close the building and supervise the meeting. Keys will no longer be checked out for meeting rooms, according to the policy.

The board approved changes to the salary schedule. Pages and cleaners will be paid the same structure, starting at $9.31 per hour and $9.50 after six months. Pay for pages and cleaners will be capped at $12.50 per hour.

Also, the board adopted an internal control policy for Library employees. The State has recently mandated that government implement these policies for management and accountability and each employee handling public tax money must receive training.

Librarians report

In her Librarian’s Report, Yelich said that Jessica Deiotte has accepted the position of being the WPL’s full-time graphics and public relations manager.

The Indiana State Park Pass checkout program will be continued this year, Yelich said. One pass for Thomas Library was received in the mail and Yelich said she plans to purchase one for the Hageman branch. The pass allows free admission to any state park in Indiana.

The theme for this year’s six-week Summer Reading Program will be “Camp WPL,” which starts June 1.

Yelich also said reupholstery is currently underway for chairs looking “tired” and the maintenance department is in the process of cleaning up the chair frames.


Posted 2/13/2017





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