Chesterton Tribune

More Thomas Library restrooms to get upgrade; no decision on WPL marketing program

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The second-floor Thomas Library public restrooms soon will get a facelift.

Meeting Thursday, the Westchester Public Library Board accepted the low bid of Vendramini Construction at $9,810 to replace the restroom tile, fixtures and to install hands-free faucets and valves. Vendramini recently completed an expansion and renovation of the first-floor Thomas restrooms making them handicapped accessible, but there’s no room to expand the second-floor restrooms.

Final acceptance of the Vendramini proposal is contingent on its review by project architect Scott Virtue, who could not attend the meeting.

Other contractors submitting proposals were H&P Construction at $13,981 and Tech Kitchen and Bath at $12,310.

This will be the third restroom upgrade for WPL; the main restrooms at the Library Service Center also were renovated. WPL director Phil Baugher said to minimize delays on the new Thomas project, work can’t start until all materials are received and no additional payments will be allowed for unforseen conditions discovered following demolition.

Tentative plans are to remodel the restrooms at Hageman Library and those on the lower level of the LSC as well.

Marketing decision delayed

After a lengthy discussion, library trustees couldn’t agree for a second month on what additional marketing, if any, WPL should undertake to increase its visitation and circulation. A workshop may be scheduled.

Baugher said in 2010 Hoosier libraries began losing circulation. Although WPL’s circulation is up at Hageman, system-wide circulation is down overall with a 2013 goal of increasing circulation by 5 percent.

Advertising on the Chesterton/Duneland Chamber of Commerce’s new LED monument sign near Indiana 49 and Porter Avenue has been discussed, and WPL is planning to test flat-screen monitors at key locations in its buildings to give visitors information.

But Baugher said that will serve patrons who are already at WPL, not attract new people to its free offerings and events. Ten thousand people have WPL library cards, but 10,000 in the community don’t, he noted. Year-to-date 190,345 materials have been circulated, a less than 1 percent increase over 2011.

Board member Michele Corazzo asked if hiring a marketing consultant should be considered. Member Drew Rhed said, “No, that’s what we’re here for and (Baugher) to advise us.” He felt money should be put in resources, not advertising. “The stronger we become, stronger word of mouth becomes.”

Member Rick Hokanson asked who would a marketing campaign target, especially if advertising on the Indiana 49 LED sign face which member Sharon Robbins said changes quickly. Corazzo didn’t rule out periodic use of the sign for special WPL notices.

Baugher said he’s in no way saying WPL isn’t doing a great job, but he believes the library can do even better.

The board discussed as a possible marketing tool whether WPL should commission a new South Shore poster in the historic series to promote the WPL-operated Westchester Township Museum in the Brown Mansion. The initial $10,000 cost could be reduced to $2,500 if all copies of the poster WPL would receive are sold.

“How would people feel about us spending $10,000 in this economy?” asked board member Abbe Trent. Baugher said WPL could tap its sizeable donated gift funds rather than operating money. In all funds WPL has $7.6 million, much of it in investments and reserve funds for a possible future facilities expansion.

2013 Plan of Service

Board members discussed the 2013 WPL budget. Baugher said this year’s is $3,111,359 and the maximum 2013 budget is projected to be $3,198,477 or less due to circuit breaker caps and/or shortfalls in collections.

Next year Baugher recommends maintaining the current WPL operating hours, staffing and material-acquisitions levels and programming services yet providing for possible reductions if necessary. Advertised will be a 2 percent pay increase for staff, and unexpended revenue will be transferred to reserve funds at year’s end as has been WPL’s practice.

Planned 2013 projects would be replacing the existing WPL telephone system and installing more security cameras in all facilities if not completed this year.

In other business, Baugher said there are 552 participants in the Thomas summer reading program and 92 at Hageman. The children’s wrap-up party takes place July 21.



Posted 7/16/2012