Willard Memorial Library Renovations Behind Schedule, Annex Ready To Open

By Jane Ernsberger
Times-Junction News Editor

Renovations are continuing at the Willard Memorial Library. Laura Lee Wilson, director of the Huron County Community Library, told members of the board of trustees work is “moving right along.”

“We were waiting for a steel delivery,” Wilson said. “That delivery was made on Friday, and they have laid the pads for the stairwell.

“By my estimation, we are about three weeks behind on the schedule we began on Jan. 18,” she added. “They said it would be a 90-day project, and, of course, we are beyond that.”

Wilson said she hopes the entire project is finished by August or September.

The annex, located directly across the front of the library on Myrtle Avenue, is complete. Wilson said the only thing left is the asphalt for the parking lot.

Wilson said the ramp in tech services is a width that, with the furniture the staff needs to do that job, they have to lift the cart to get it around a corner and onto the ramp. She said she spoke to a local machine shop and was told it could be modified, but there have also been discussions in construction meetings about getting the right lift. If the lift had been installed in a trench, there would be no need for the ramp.

“Along with the renovations, I am working on a CSX grant for the Friends of the Library,” Wilson told members of the board of trustees. “Some of the documents that CSX asked for are things the Friends truly don’t have.”

Those documents include an operating budget. Wilson said it is a small enough operation that all the group has is a treasurer’s report. Working with the Friends’ treasurer, she said they will be able to create a document which can be downloaded and put into the online application.

“I’m not sure if that will be awarded,” Wilson noted. “If they’ll give us none or some, but I think it’s worth at least looking into.”

The grant would be used specifically for the train car that will be in the children’s section in Willard, she noted.

There has been a change to the application for a library card, Wilson told trustees.

“It really changes nothing as far as what we have done in the past,” she pointed out. “It’s just that our policy language is going to be reflective on our library card application.

“We will be adding the rights of an individual to use the library, its services and materials, shall not be denied because of race, religion, national origin, mental or physical handicaps, social or political views, age, etc.,” Wilson said “The library staff shall not act in loco-parentis. The library encourages parents to be aware of their children’s use of the library’s resources, including the Internet and to supervise what materials their children may or may not borrow from the library.”

Additionally, Wilson said there will be two choices included on the application for a parent or guardian to mark. One will say, “My child does not have permission to access the Internet.” The second option reads “My child does not have permission to checkout audio-visual materials.”

The information will not be on the physical card of a child.

“How do we know when they are checking out something that they can’t have?” asked board of trustees president Doug Substanley.

Wilson said when the application is filled out, all of the information is input into the data base.

“So when we scan their card, it would bring up a block,” she noted, “that they are allowed to use Internet or not allowed to use the Internet or that they are allowed to check out audio-visual materials or not allowed to check out audio-visual materials.”

Wilson said the specific language was used in the application so people understand the library staff is not being used as “loco parentis.” Staff will not be censoring or questioning a child when they are checking things out of the library.

“That is not our place,” she pointed out.

Substanley asked if there were any other restrictions that can come up on a person’s library card.

Wilson said there are blocks which could be for items that are on hold and have not been picked up, fines due or items that are overdue. The fine limit is $5. If someone has fines or fees over that amount, they cannot use their library card.

The library also uses the services of a company to remind patrons who owe more than $25 in fees or costs. Wilson said there are mechanisms in place so patrons can set up a payment plan or come into the library and pay what they owe.

“Of course if all of those are ignored,” Wilson said, “we have other options that we can take. We don’t do any of that manually with the staff.

“It also came to my attention that our service fees include a fee that is in conflict with our policy,” she added. “The service and administration policy clearly states that inter-library loans from outside of Ohio’s public libraries are subject to the rules of the lending institution, and inter-library loans is a free service.

“Our service fee indicated that we were going to charge people $2 for inter-library loans if they didn’t come pick them up,” Wilson explained. “It was really a way for us to impress upon them if we go to the effort of finding these items and you never come pick them up, we could charge up to $2.”

The matter did come up, and staff members discussed the issue, Wilson said. The decision was made to exclude the $2 charge because it was like disciplining people who might not need the book they requested.

“We will not be doing that,” she noted, “since it is in conflict with our policy.”

Fiscal officer Adam Searle said the beginning balance on March 1 for the General Fund was $823,586. Month-to-date income was $252,573. That included the first half of property taxes and approximately $60,000 was from Public Library Funds. This leaves a balance of $983,780 in the General Fund.

The following are the fund levels as of March 1 with a total of $1,885,934:

• Capital Improvements - Beginning balance of $879,715; income $123.35 (interest); expenses $158,071 for a balance of $983,780;

• Grant Fund - Beginning balance $1,036; income $0.47 (interest); no expenses for a balance of $1,037.31;

• Willard Library Trust Fund - Beginning balance $32,042; income $5.38 (interest); no expenses for a balance of $32,048;

• Greenwich Trust Fund - Beginning balance $125,931; income $21,171; no expenses for a balance of $147,102, and

• North Fairfield Trust Fund - Beginning balance of $200.49; income $0.02 (interest) for a balance of $200.51.

Searle reviewed the first quarter status for the library.

“So far, we are right where we need to be on the accounts,” he pointed out. “Nothing glaring this early in the year.”

Restricted donations for the month totalled $21,366.55. Searle said that was primarily the donation to the Greenwich Library in a trust.

In reviewing statistics, Wilson said they are “again flat.” Those statistics also include the e-books that are checked out and the in-house circulation.

“Programming is starting to settle down a little bit,” she pointed out. “I think that most people are feeling like they would like to take a little break as we get revved up for the summer reading program.”

Wilson said there was still healthy attendance at the programs. However in late April and early May, those numbers will be down slightly so staff members can give full focus to the summer reading program.

“Computers are used a lot,” she pointed out. “They continue to be used because, I believe here in Willard, we have moved the computers that were downstairs on the lower level that primarily during the day weren’t real active. They were used more by the children and adults didn’t go downstairs to use the computers.”

Those four Internet accessible computers were moved up to the new computer room with the renovations. Wilson said they are full all of the time.

Once the renovations are done on the lower level, there will be computers down there for the children, but they won’t be Internet accessible. Those computers are not in the library at this time but will be purchased.

Board of trustee members approved an amended certificate for supplemental appropriations. Searle said the library had received some grants.

“We did get the amended certificate for a total of $23,516.55 increase in our revenue,” he said. “That allowed us to appropriate a total of $3,094,540.”

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