Chesterton Tribune



Library taps Census and other data to chart long range plans; WPL photo ID coming

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With Westchester Public Library embarking on an update of its long-range plan, an extensive community analysis to identify district and patron demographics was discussed Thursday.

The 10-page overview of Westchester Township was prepared by WPL staffers Julie Bohannon, Suzanne Chomel, Ruby Plourde and Thomas Library branch librarian Leea Yelich.

The WPL service area mirrors the township boundaries: Lake Michigan to the north, County Road 400 West to the west, County Road 1100 North to the south, and County Road 300 East to the east.

As an example, WPL director Phil Baugher said the new location of the Duneland unit of the Porter County Boys and Girls Club is on the south side of 1100N so it is out of WPL’s service area although arrangements probably could be made to conduct programming there if requested.

Based on 2010 Census data and several other sources, Yelich said the township’s population increased by 6.93 percent between 2000 and 2010; the population above age 5 is fairly evenly distributed among age categories although more persons were between ages 45 and 54. The distribution of males and females was almost evenly split.

A large majority of the population spoke English and 93.3 percent listed themselves as white. In 2012 income-adjusted dollars more households and families showed income in the $100,000 to $149,999 range than others.

Female householders with no husband present and having related children under 5 years had the highest percentage of income below the poverty level although Westchester Township’s total percentage of residents below the poverty level was half that of Indiana’s 9.5 percent average.

Library officials said that may be attributed in part to the fact 6,000 people are employed at ArcelorMittal Steel in Burns Harbor; the second and third largest township employers are the Levy Company and Worthington Steel, respectively.

And the survey showed...

As a township, Westchester had 7,535 total occupied households with 19,234 people living in them, most in single-family homes. There were 5,254 families residing in WPL’s service area with 2,395 of these families with children.

Attending her first meeting, newly appointed Library Board member Rondi Wightman asked if a change in the numbers would prompt WPL to reconfigure space. Yelich said it would require a review of not only space but also the size and type of WPL collections.

Based on 2010-2012 statistics 5,294 of the population 3 years and over were enrolled in school, the most (41.7 percent) in Grades 1-8 followed by high school and college/graduate school. Regarding the 12,491 persons age 25 years and over, 90.6 percent were high school graduates or higher with 30.8 percent having a bachelor’s degree or higher.

According to the WPL analysis, many township residents seem to be civic minded and children oriented as evidenced by the number of local organizations and the youth sports and club activities available. Area parks, media access, and transportation also were addressed in the study.

Yelich said the information gained will enable WPL to help determine what programs would benefit the populations served.

Additional areas identified for more research were literacy rates, how many households have home computer and Internet access, and the number of children who are homeschooled. Library Board members commended the staff who produced the analysis.

Part of the ongoing planning review will be a SWOT analysis at the May 8 board meeting to determine the library’s present and future strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a number of areas. Board members agreed to limit next month’s agenda so enough time can be devoted to the SWOT discussion.

Patron photos now needed

The board voted 6-0 with Nick Tilden absent to adopt a library card photo policy to record a photo of each patron as library cards are issued or renewed.

The photos will be confidential library records for verification purposes only.

An individual’s photo would be displayed for WPL staff on their computer screen when the patron’s card is presented to check out materials so the patron can be positively identified to prevent lost or stolen library cards. The photos also allow patron check-out despite having forgotten to bring their library card; and enable staff to quickly locate library patrons including children in an emergency.

Board members engaged in an extended discussion before policy adoption. “I don’t think asking for a photo is overly intrusive itself,” said Mike Livovich, who also supported allowing an opt-out waiver for patrons not wishing to have a photo taken.

The latter language was included in the final policy. In those cases the patron may have to provide a driver’s license, automobile registration, property tax statement, current piece of delivered mail or other form to verify their identity.

Member Drew Rhed said requiring photo ID is becoming more commonplace, and WPL attorney Terry Hiestand said today patrons are on security cameras many places they go including at library facilities.


Posted 4/11/2014