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Staff Q and A

San Antonio Public Library

Innovation Leader: Roberta Sparks, Special Projects Manager, roberta.sparks@sanantonio.gov

Problem Statement

The San Antonio Public Library had been struggling with staff communication. In the past, information was communicated to upper and middle management at various monthly meetings, but we became aware that there was a gap in communicating the information to staff at lower levels.

In addition, the City of San Antonio and the Library organization had experienced a number of changes over the last year, including a reduction in branch hours, a reduction in workforce, a reorganization of the Central Library, and the implementation of floating collections. The numerous changes and reductions caused considerable anxiety for staff. Additional significant changes were anticipated by management for the following year.

Though we have a Staff Web and the City of San Antonio intranet site as well as newsletters, we realized that a more dynamic, staff‚Äźdriven method of communicating was necessary. It was critical for staff to have the opportunity to ask questions and receive candid answers on the topics that interested them, not just the information that management thought they were interested in.

Innovation

Library management and the Digital Services Department collaborated to implement the Staff Q and A. Staff at all levels may submit anonymous questions which are distributed to the appropriate staff member for response. Unedited questions and the corresponding answers as prepared by the subject matter expert are posted to the Staff Web.

Progress

The Staff Q and A was unveiled in November, 2009. In the first five months, over 200 questions have been submitted. Staff communication has increased dramatically through this practice, and the Q&A administrators have received a significant number of questions relating to the budget process and potential budget reductions. It is apparent that staff members are anxious and are grateful to have a safe place to turn to. In addition, library management is getting a clear picture of staff concerns and the issues which they find important. It is particularly valuable to receive continuous feedback on how we are doing as an organization from a staff perspective. The questions asked by staff have also led to significant process and policy improvements for the Library System.