Library board continues digitization discussion, plans for masonry repairs

A sub-committee of the Culver-Union Township Public Library board will move ahead in examining a proposal by the Antiquarian and Historical Society of Culver to digitize into a computer-based, searchable format copies of vintage editions of the Culver Citizen owned by the library, though a representative of the AHS said the organization likely won't need the majority of the library's papers.
Jeff Kenney said the majority -- though not all -- of the past issues of Culver's newspaper were are stored at the Pilot News offices in Plymouth, and are available to the AHS for purposes of digitizing the papers. The Culver Citizen is currently a part of the Pilot News Group, and Kenney said former Citizen publisher Fred Karst, when selling the Citizen to the Pilot's parent company more than ten years ago, also deposited the Citizen's collection of vintage newspapers at the Plymouth office. Kenney said the collection begins in the 1890s, which is where AHS members will next proceed to digitize.
Discussion of the project first began in April, when the board approved a proposal made by Kenney that the AHS remove bound volumes of the newspapers, one year at a time, for digitization. The result would be an online, searchable database containing all previous editions of the newspaper available.
At the June board meeting, however, discussion and -- at times -- debate ensued as to whether it was legal or ideal to remove the books from the building. Kenney, noting digitization of the library's microfilm records of the newspapers would be insufficient to produce a searchable database due to the poor quality of photography in many microfilm records, argued the practice of removing historical items for digitization is standard around the state, and in fact the State Library awards grants to public libraries to help offset the cost of doing so. The AHS proposed to digitize the papers for free.
At the July 19 meeting, Kenney said the AHS would proceed with digitization using the Pilot News-owned copies of the newspapers, but would like to proceed in working out an agreement with the library to use some of its copies, as not all years are represented in the Pilot News' collection.
Board member Melanie Robertson, chair of a sub-committee charged with researching the matter, noted the State Library could digitize its microfilm copies of the newspapers, but acknowledged the resulting files would likely not be searchable for research purposes. She said library technician Andrew Baker gave a "very informative" presentation to the sub-committee on the steps of the digitization process. She also said library attorney Ken Leukenbill wrote a letter reiterating his opinion the newspapers should not leave the building "from a legal standpoint."
Robertson said the sub-committee would likely contact a representative of the Indiana State Library involved in historical digitization, and will also plan to meet with Kenney in the near future.
Board president Jim Hahn thanked the committee for its work.
It was with some relief that board members agreed to hire Ross Masonry of Mishawaka to handle some repairs to brickwork on the library building at a cost of $8,300. Previously, a different company had examined the building and suggested a $17,000 price tag for the work, which will include application of a water-based sealant, caulking, and work on wall caps and expansions on both the original, 1914 structure and the 2000-era addition. Hahn also briefly discussed the possibility of a drive-up drop box to return library materials, which is being considered as a future option.
Board member Alfred Nyby, during a report on library finances, said expenditures are now staying within the projected amounts as of the month of June, with the exception of personal services, which funds library staffing and which is around $5,000 higher than projected. Nyby also said the library is just shy of attaining the percentage of its monies recommended by the state to be spent on materials. He noted spending around $3,000 more would bring the library to the suggested level.
The library's bi-annual audit from the state of Indiana began the previous Monday, Nyby added, and should take about a week.
Director Colleen McCarty said the board should examine and sign its 2012 budget at the August 16 board meeting, likely adopting it October 18, following publication and a public hearing.
Nyby also reported that Barbara Winters, representing the Marshall County Community Foundation, recently discussed the fund the library holds there, which recently has only yielded two to three percent interest. Winters said the library's next draw should be up to four percent. Funds in the library's name there originally came from a gift, rather than tax dollars, McCarty noted.
During her director's report, McCarty noted the library's summer newsletter, the Maxinkuckee Reed, is available in the building in print as well as online. Library staff member Jon Gaskill, who edited the newsletter, also canvassed the community and secured a number of prizes for the library's adult summer reading program.
McCarty said two children's room clerks would be leaving the library within the next month.
She told the board the library won an essay contest -- and hence ten free audiobooks -- sponsored by Tantor Audio, due to an essay penned by Gaskill on how the library is important to the community.
The board voted in an annual resolution to join a state consortium for funding internet access, which requires filtering all public computers. The library uses Websense software for such filtering, McCarty explained, at no cost to the library. A brief discussion ensued about the balance between freedom of speech and limiting access to certain online materials via filtering.