Chicago Public Library Staffing Audit Finds That Staffing Approach Does Not Align with Community Needs

Harold Washington Library Center
Harold Washington Library Center (Source: Chicago Public Library)
Contact: Natalie Kuriata

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed an audit evaluating the design and implementation of the Chicago Public Library’s (CPL) staffing plan, which allocates positions among CPL’s 80 library locations. The objectives of the audit were to determine whether CPL’s staffing plan followed industry guidance and was an effective and efficient tool for allocating human resources. While CPL’s staffing plan improves upon its previous uniform staffing approach, OIG determined that due to deficiencies in its design and implementation, the plan is not sufficient to align library branch staffing with community needs. OIG identified several flaws in the design and implementation of CPL’s staffing plan, such as not collecting and using all relevant data, incorrectly classifying some libraries, and not staffing all libraries in accordance with the plan.

Among OIG’s recommendations for improvement:

  • Conduct a system-wide workload analysis to determine the time spent on all activities by staff and incorporate findings into the plan.
  • Involve stakeholders in redesigning the staffing plan to ensure libraries are appropriately staffed to meet community needs.
  • Once CPL redesigns its staffing plan, it should consistently apply the plan’s criteria to all library locations and disseminate the plan to all employees.
  • CPL should develop a process to evaluate the effectiveness of the staffing plan on a periodic basis, and should modify it as needed to adjust to changes in library services and community needs.

CPL agreed with some OIG recommendations, such as revising its staffing plan and developing a policy that codifies application of the plan. Many of OIG’s recommendations were based on staffing industry guidance from the U.S. Government Accountability Office and the American Library Association. In spite of these best practices, CPL disagreed with OIG’s recommendation to disseminate the plan to all library employees and declined to involve the library board and community members in redesigning the plan, asserting that senior staff regularly “reports up and down the organizational structure.”

“The Chicago Public Library is an important public institution that provides enormous benefit to our residents,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “We strongly urge CPL to reevaluate its rejection of soliciting insight and perspective from the very public it exists to serve, and the staff who serve them. A new approach to staffing, with consideration of those who are at the frontlines of that service and industry best practices, is essential to support the needs of our City.”

The full report can be found online at OIG’s website: http://bit.ly/CPLAudit

Follow @ChicagoOIG on Twitter for the latest information on how OIG continues to fight waste, fraud, abuse, and inefficiency in Chicago government.

Source: www.chicagoinspectorgeneral.org

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