Chesterton Tribune


Pricetag jumps thanks to elevator alarms for new WPL fire alert system upgrade

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Upgrading the fire alarm system at Westchester Public Libraryís three buildings is proving costlier than first anticipated.

WPL director Phil Baugher reported Thursday that 44 new smoke detectors, instead of the planned 25, were installed at Thomas Library on the recommendation of the Chesterton Fire Department. The system is installed and active, but it now needs to be interfaced with the air handlers and the elevator.

While having the air handlers set to turn off if a problem is detected wonít be difficult to arrange, said Baugher, upgrading the elevator control panel, electrical switches and relays so the elevator is recalled to the first floor and the door opened will be more costly.

Quotes are being obtained to do the elevator modifications. The new alarm systems are installed and working at both the Library Service Center and at Hageman Library in Porter. Martin Security is in charge of the project.

Baugher said heís hopeful WPLís insurance rates will decrease because of the upgraded fire system.

In other business, Baugher told the Library Board that architect Scott Virtue will proceed with drawings to make the Hageman restrooms fully handicapped accessible later this year; the work wonít be done until warmer weather when a portable toilet can be located on site during the reconstruction. Virtue also will prepare plans for remodeling the LSCís lower-level restrooms, the last of WPLís to be made fully accessible for employees, patrons and guests.

WPL also hopes to make improvements to the exhibit space at its Westchester Township History Museum located at the Brown Mansion owned by Duneland School Corp. The exhibit area is an addition to the historic home and no original structure would be changed by removing a wall and opening a new doorway.

Baugher said he met with Virtue and a Duneland representative to examine the space, and plans will be drawn up for presentation to the School Board for final approval. WPL will pay for the work.

No director? No problem

Also Thursday, Baugher presented a draft succession policy in the event of the resignation, retirement or incapacity of the library director. Final action is anticipated at the March 14 Library Board meeting.

The policy provides for an interim director being named when necessary, appointing a search committee, reviewing overall WPL management structure, selecting a director, and doing performance evaluations.

A new process would be put in place to address the sudden loss of a director; annually the Library Board would designate a staff person to assume the directorís duties if necessary, and the director will keep on file vital information and instructions that would ease a transition.

Baugher suggested that Thomas branch librarian Leea Yelich be designated the interim director when needed.

WPL finances and circulation are doing well this year, said Baugher. System-wide through January 31,949 items were circulated for a slight increase over 2012 although Hageman saw an almost 6 percent circulation jump there.

Visits to WPLís website increased 32 percent last month and those accessing its online content more than doubled with Zinio magazine, Freegal music and Rocket Languages all up and running. Also jumping was the number of library wireless internet users at WPL buildings after a signal boost.

Baugher announced staff will be getting out from behind their desks in the Reference Department to help more patrons find the materials they want and need. Some staff will be equipped with computer tablets to better access WPLís catalog and the internet.

The Internal Revenue Serviceís plan to have more persons access its tax information online is making it harder for WPL to distribute the IRSís popular tax forms and instruction booklets, said Baugher. Limited copies of the 1040 booklet will be loaned for up to 48 hours to resident patrons in good standing.

Board retirements in March

It was announced the Library Board will recommend Kathryn Cochran to the Duneland School Board to replace WPL board member Sharon Robbins, and Michael Livovich to the Porter County Council for the WPL appointment replacing Rick Hokanson. Both he and Robbins are long-time members who are retiring.

The Library Board again discussed at length changes to its investment policy with no decision made pending more research by Baugher and WPL attorney Terry Hiestand. WPL has $7.6 million on hand with about $6 million available for investment; the money is being saved for a future expansion of facilities. With new changes in the law, WPL has greater investment flexibility but members want maximum protection for the funds.

Baugher said the most recent 90-day certificate of deposit for $6,658,763 carries a ďpitifulĒ 0.26 percent interest rate.

Among the options library officials are weighing are whether to contract with an investment advisor, to participate without one in a CD Account Registry Service that offers investors a way to secure federal deposit insurance on the entirety of their investment, or to explore with the holder of WPLís current CD the benefits of its own CDARS-type program.



Posted 2/15/2013