facilities needs assessment the Westchester Public Library Board approved at
its last meeting is underway, the Board heard at its meeting last night.
Staff from CSK Architects have been conducting walk-throughs of the Thomas
and Hageman branches and the Baugher Center to create an inventory of
upgrades or improvements WPL should plan for in the future. The assessment
will rank findings by urgency and price the improvements.
is doing the assessment at a cost of $14,500, per a competitive price they
offer public libraries. The Westchester Township History Museum is not part
of the assessment because WPL leases it from the Duneland School
Corporation; however, it was evaluated in a recent Duneland Schools
Library Director Lisa Stamm reported what CSK has seen so far led them to
praise WPL’s maintenance crew for stellar upkeep of the facilities. However,
Stamm reported it appears an asbestos survey has never been done at WPL, and
CSK recommended having one as soon as possible. Stamm said the Museum will
be included in the asbestos survey, despite its exclusion from the needs
assessment, and she has requested quotes from several vendors.
other business, the Board approved removal of WPL’s Background Check Policy
and Procedures because an amended Criminal History Check policy is part of
the new employee handbook.
her Librarian’s report, Stamm highlighted the new WPL scavenger hunt
program--brainchild of Thomas Branch Manager Heather Chaddock. 390 people
participated in scavenger hunts at both branches and the Museum, 44 of whom
went to more than one location. The scavenger hunt ultimate winner nabbed a
Fitbit Inspire. “We heard many compliments on the Scavenger Hunt --some said
that they didn’t know there were so many different areas and materials in
the Library,” Stamm said.
27,307 people visited WPL in January. 2,135 people attended 91 programs and
409 people used WPL meetings rooms, Stamm said. She added that WPL’s new
online calendar software is live and working fine after some technical
difficulties slowed down its planned January rollout.
Stamm updated the Board on proposed legislation Indiana Senate Bill 410,
which clarifies HEA 1343, a law passed last year that gives local fiscal
bodies the option to bring their respective public libraries to binding
budget review if those libraries carry more than 150% of their annual
budgets in reserve. Stamm said SB 410 explains how the 150% figure is to be
calculated and clarifies that fiscal bodies aren’t required to take
oversight, but they also have the option to reduce library budgets by up to
10% if they do.
According to the Department of Local Government Finance’s reading of HEA
1343, the Porter County Council is the fiscal body that would take oversight
over WPL (despite Porter County not being one of WPL’s founding entities)
because townships are not specifically mentioned in the law. Stamm said the
needs assessment will be a valuable tool in explaining WPL’s plans for its
reserves if the Council takes oversight.
Stamm also gave an update on WPL’s newest MLS-degreed employee, Young Adult
Librarian Sionna Hartigan. The Board approved Stamm’s creation of a young
adult librarian position last year, and Stamm says Hartigan is already
proving her value. “I’m delighted to have her. She is fabulous, as we
thought, and she’s bringing a lot of great ideas already,” Stamm said. The
Board is slated to meet Hartigan at its March meeting.