Chesterton Tribune



WPL board updates inclement weather personnel policy

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The Westchester Public Library Board approved changes to its personnel policy on emergency closures at its Thursday meeting.

WPL Director Lisa Stamm said she was inclined to look over the emergency closure policy for personnel after she made the call to close Library facilities when Duneland experienced record-breaking cold air temperatures and wind chill. Stamm ordered the facilities to close during a National Weather Service wind chill warning--all buildings closed early Jan. 29, were closed all day Jan. 30, and reopened, as they were able, late the next morning.

Stamm said the closure prompted questions about whether or not part-time staff would be paid for scheduled hours they missed, which is an issue that’s been handled differently by two past WPL directors in the last few years.

Stamm said her policy is not compensating part-time employees for shifts that did not exist due to a closure. While she was at it, Stamm added language to the new policy clarifying how employees can use vacation or sick days in the case of emergency closures and under what circumstances employees may be reassigned for a shift at another location. She proposed the new policy stand alone rather than being a section in the employee manual.

Stamm told the Board, “The new policy I’ve written falls in line with best fiduciary and personnel practices of public libraries.”

Board member Michelle Corazzo suggested the policy include precise language about who decides on an impromptu closure if the Director is out of the office. Corazzo said confusion arose once in the past during a power outage when the then director couldn’t be reached.

Since WPL doesn’t have an assistant library director, Stamm added that the director’s administrative assistant should make the call if the director is not available. If that person is also unavailable, the Thomas Branch manager makes the call.

In other personnel business, Stamm reported that 11 employees who needed state library certifications were certified after the Friends of the Library covered the total cost of $550. The certifications cost $50 a person and are valid for five years.

In the process of funding certifications, Stamm discovered WPL does not have a fund for unrestricted donations. Stamm reported there are donation funds earmarked for specific programs, like the Bits & Bytes computer classes, but none for random expenses like the certifications. Since funding for the Bits & Bytes program is now covered by a different fund, Stamm proposed changing the label of the Bits & Bytes fund to “unrestricted gift.”

The Library’s accounting software provider advised Stamm that changing the name of a fund requires leaving a paper trail, so for a period of one year, the fund will be labeled “unrestricted gift” and carry its former label in parentheses. The fund label can change fully after that.

Librarian’s Report

Stamm reported that the Hageman Branch had to remain closed on Jan. 31 due to frozen pipes. It turns out the issue was more than extreme cold: old insulation in Hageman’s attic isn’t working as it used to and needs to be replaced. Maintenance staff are looking into pricing.

The Friends of the Library will host a Technology Fire Sale on March 30 where Stamm says out-of-use Library tech equipment will be “priced to move.” Most of the items are still operational. The Board approved a resolution to release the items for sale.

Stamm reported the Library had 26,214 visitors in January, and WPL presented 84 programs that had a total of 1,421 attendees. 241 people used Library meeting rooms.


Posted 2/18/2019




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