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Idea Team

San Antonio Public Library

Problem Statement

The San Antonio Public Library employs people who care about their communities and believe libraries play an important role in people’s lives. However, in such a large organization, employee ideas to serve the public more efficiently and effectively through changes or innovations in procedures and services may “fall through the cracks.” How can employees who believe in the mission of public libraries have their ideas heard? How can employees be empowered to become more involved and contribute to making the decisions that will affect staff and customers?


Kendra Trachta, the Assistant Director of the San Antonio Public Library was inspired to create an “Idea Team.” Her goal was to create a team of people, from different locations and with different job titles, who review all suggestions from staff before recommending them to Administration decision makers. The first “Idea Team” was also tasked with developing the criteria and procedures to accept and evaluate the ideas put forward by staff. Staff can now submit their ideas using an easily accessible on‐line “ticket” system. Following the evaluation process the Team makes a recommendation whether or not to pursue specific suggestions. Everyone who submits an Idea receives an answer and an explanation, even when the answer is “no.” Staff whose Ideas are moved toward implementation are offered an opportunity to participate.


In the past year the Idea Team has received over 50 proposals from SAPL staff. Of those proposals, 28 have been recommended to Administration for further review and possible implementation. Currently, 8 ideas are in different stages of development, including the design of user‐friendly signage throughout the system and creation of a “Business equipment center” at San Antonio’s Central Library. Soon “The iFiles” will be available on the intranet, so that all staff can see the results of their colleagues’ ideas.