Chesterton Tribune



Library to maintain current COVID safety protocols

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Despite the State of Indiana loosening restrictions on COVID safety measures and the move to Stage 5 on September 25, Westchester Public Library Director Lisa Stamm says the safety of her staff and patrons is paramount. Therefore, reported Stamm during Thursday night’s Westchester Public Library Board of Trustees meeting, current protocols will remain in place.

“Based on the science we currently know about COVID-19, and that there is not yet a vaccine, and that we are rapidly approaching flu season, I do not intend to change any protocols for patron in-person visits, regardless of the recent determination that Indiana is in Stage 5,” she stated. These protocols include mandatory masks when inside WPL facilities, limiting “stop in/pick up/browse” time to 30 minutes, and daily curbside pickup. “I do not recommend that patrons suddenly be allowed to stay for longer, prolonged, or untimed periods when the safety data doesn’t support and actually advises against it,” Stamm said.

Recognizing that this decision may be unpopular with some members of the community, Stamm told the board that they have been able to still offer a robust variety of services even with such safety measures in place. “I believe,” she reported, “and patron and staff response has reinforced, that WPL is roundly appreciated for its safety protocols and operations while still proviing and maintaining excellent service through the pandemic, and I do not want to change that mode of operation and increase risk as we head into an unprecedented winter.”

Board President Nick Tilden asked the board for their thoughts which were unanimously supportive of Stamm’s decision, including from Tilden himself. “I wholeheartedly support this decision and think it’s the right move but if anyone has any opinions, I’d like to hear it,” he said. Board member Kathryn Cochran said that especially since the cases of COVID are increasing in Porter County, and “because so many factors are out of the Library’s control,” she too supports Stamm maintaining the status quo. Board Member Michelle Corazzo echoed that sentiment by stating, “If a patron came in and spread it, it would be devastating for the Library. I think caution is better than opening the doors up,” and Board member Abbe Trent commented to Stamm, “I think you’ve been a role model for the community.” The rest of the board members thanked Stamm for her pronouncement.

In other business, Stamm reported that in the month of September, 11,167 people visited the WPL and there were 17 in-person programs held outdoors with masks and social distancing. Staff also processed 101 new library cards and 116 WPL Scholastic cards in collaboration with the Duneland School Corporation during September which was National Library Card Sign-Up Month. Circulation for the month of September included 1,924 DVDs, 1,406 adult fiction, 939 adult nonfiction, 873 juvenile fiction, 559 juvenile nonfiction, and other categories. Total circulation of electronic content (e-books and Hoopla) for September was 2,136 which has been steady since March of 2020 when circulation was 2,115.

Additionally, Stamm introduced the WPL new Reference Department Manager Colleen Good who has both academic and public experience before joining WPL in mid-August. The board also heard about repairs to the Thomas branch elevator, plans for virtual interactive programming using Zoom with proper security measures, and plans for the Thomas branch HVAC and Hageman roof replacement to take place in spring 2021 with the WPL requesting an Additional Appropriation amount to cover both projects from the Porter County Council in the beginning of 2021. Stamm also reported that Brandon Kroft, president of the Duneland School Board, reached out to her to discuss creating a formal process for the DSC appointments to the WPL Board of Trustees since one had not been established in the past.


Posted 10/9/2020




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