Library board discusses fire and security updates, discovers funding source

At its March 20th meeting, the Culver Union Township Library Board discussed updating its fire and security systems and voted to run a complete inventory of non-book library belongings, using money from a recently discovered Bond Operations and Reserve Fund. The inventory will fulfill an insurance requirement for the library’s bond.

“There has not been a thorough inventory done of the building, maybe ever,” Treasurer Alfred Nyby said to the board. “We do feel, for insurance purposes and our own control, we need an inventory of everything the library owns.”

Nyby and Library Director Colleen McCarty suggested hiring Buckland and Associates, a company highly recommended by the Plymouth library, to conduct the inventory. The 3-day process, to result in the bar coding of all library possessions, will cost $9,000.

McCarty explained that she had recently become aware of a fund of money composed of a percentage of every bond payment. This fund, the Bond Operations and Reserve Fund (O & R fund), currently has a reserve of $26,000 and may be used in any way that services the bond.
The board voted unanimously to allocate $9,000 dollars from the O & R fund to conduct inventory through Buckland & Associates. Nyby noted, “That’s been hanging over our heads for years now.”

McCarty said that money from O & R fund could also be used to pay $350 to independent financial advisory firm Umbaugh & Associates for their services in filing the library’s bond information online, a new state insurance requirement.

Nyby explained that they’d hired the firm to deal with all the paperwork associated with the library’s bond, which has a long and complicated history.

“Colleen and I have two large volumes detailing everything that happened to that bond years ago. [We] thought maybe we could figure it out for ourselves. We wasted way too many hours on that.”

McCarty also noted that the $500 annual payments to Umbaugh could have been coming from the O & R fund all along. Nyby wondered whether they might ask for repayment retroactively. In response to a question from board member Joan Bess regarding the possibility of using O &R money to fund security updates, McCarty stated that she is still researching potential uses, but believes that “because the bond covers the building, it’s possible the money could be used in any way that secures the building.”

McCarty then detailed some gaps in the building’s fire protection. Following a recent visit from the Fire Marshall, the library was written up in non-compliance for failing to conduct a yearly report on its smoke detectors. McCarty hired a qualified independent inspector from Bremen to conduct their inspection, which the library passed.

The board discussed the possibility of installing additional smoke detectors throughout the building. Nyby noted that there should be detectors every 30 feet, but that the library has only four for the entire building, 3 stationed by the elevator on each floor and one the boiler room. Colleen added that the library does not have a sprinkler system, to protect the books.

Nyby said that in order to install additional smoke detectors, the library would need to upgrade its fire panel, which is so outdated that replacement parts are no longer available. McCarty said she’d asked the inspector for an estimate on the cost of updating the fire panel, installing additional smoke detectors, and updating the burglar system.

McCarty reported that Evergreen (a library consortium software that allows library patrons to order books from other libraries in the system) will soon have over 100 members. She said visitors and circulation numbers for February had increased considerably from the previous year (up 5,280 and 500 respectively).

McCarty also noted that Carol Saft has been reappointed for a second term on the board. She encouraged board members to attend the library’s civil war events taking place in conjunction with One Book/One Town Marshall County. These will include a discussion of Shelbly Foote’s Shiloh led by Jim Faulkner, presentations by staff member and civil war reenactor Margaret Carter, and exhibits both upstairs in the library and within the Center for Culver History museum.

“We’re pleased to be participating,” said McCarty.

Nyby raised some issues with Overdrive, the library’s e-book download service. He wondered if it’s compatible with library ethics policies, explaining that books digitally downloaded from the library with a Kindle triggered offers to purchase the book just before the return date and that Amazon is using it to gather confidential patron information.

Library Board President Jim Hahn agreed, adding, “I wouldn’t appreciate getting a solicitation to purchase.”

Saft noted that survey results showed users had specifically requested the service. She wondered whether the system could include a disclaimer.

In the public portion of the meeting, Antiquarian & Historical Society Vice-President Jim Sawhook informed the board of the Society’s intention to hold a community-wide meeting to discuss the future of the Center for Culver History. Sawhook invited library board members to attend, adding that the meeting’s purpose will not be to second-guess the library board’s decision to terminate its agreement with the museum.

“It is not intended as a love fest but as a means of getting a grip on where we are and where we’re going,” said Sawhook.

Kevin Berger of Easterday Construction suggested the library consider installing a Knox Box, a security-system allowing firemen access to any town building through use of a single key. Berger referred to the boxes as “a cost-saving measure,” noting that it could cost the library $1,000 dollars to have their door broken down in case of emergency, while the installation of a Knox Box would cost $300 to $500.

In response to some questions regarding the security of the single key, he said he is encouraging the town to get liability insurance and develop standard ordinances regarding the Knox Boxes.

The issue was tabled pending development of the library’s own security system (which could be integrated with a Knox Box) and further consideration by the town council on the matter.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Hahn. “I’d just like to see the town get their ducks in a row.