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
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
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
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
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
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
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.