A Message from Paula Brehm-Heeger, the Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Library Director: Investing in Our Staff

We know that Hamilton County residents value their public library. Our users typically borrow over 19 million items annually, and last year we saw more than 1.9 million visits to our locations. This is an impressive reflection of our community’s appreciation, no doubt. That said, we know how much our residents deeply appreciate the Library’s materials and our staff. We have over 760 staff serving the public through 42 locations, and they are passionate about connecting with community members to support their needs and interests.

One of our organizational priorities is investing in supporting staff so they feel appreciated for all the important work they do. Some of the ways we’re investing in staff include:

  • Providing a variety of continuing education opportunities for staff.
    1. We take an asset-based, positive approach to staff development. All staff take the Clifton Strength Finders Assessment, opens a new window and learn how to leverage their strengths for success in the workplace.
    2. We regularly seek input from staff on training needs and then organize training days for our staff. Most recently we provided two rounds of training for our public service Library Customer Advisers and our Library Customer Specialists.
    3. Since our Educational Assistance Program started in August of 2019, CHPL has supported 16 staff members by providing more than $82,000 for tuition fees.
    4. We are participating in Ohio’s TechCred program, opens a new window to ensure staff has the technological skills they need to succeed.
  • Conducting a compensation review to make sure all our staff members are appropriately compensated as compared to similar organizations.
  • Pursuing options for merit increases and revisiting salary structure as our budget allows, as we did in early August when the state set the Public Library Fund at a constant level for the recently approved state bi-annual budget.
  • Striving for continuous improvement of our organizational culture, beginning with an all-staff survey to give us a picture of where the most opportunities lie.
  • Demonstrating our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) by working with a local consultant to conduct a holistic, organization-wide assessment to identify opportunities to embed DEI principles throughout the organization. To carry the forthcoming recommendations from this work forward in the months and years ahead, we have recently created a new position, the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Culture. Read more in the job posting.
  • Updating our paid time off (PTO) policy so that it offers a more equitable accrual method by the hour rather than by part-time or full-time designation. It also puts a higher cap on accrual maximums for most staff and requires staff members to take at least one consecutive week of PTO to promote employee well-being.
  • Showing appreciation for staff contributions during the pandemic by providing a one-time bonus, approved by the Board of Trustees at their meeting earlier this month.

As Board President Diane Cunningham Redden notes, “What we learned, loud and clear during our Facility Master Plan community listening sessions is that the Cincinnati and Hamilton County community understands that the CHPL employees are our biggest asset. We have beautiful buildings but they are only valuable because of our committed staff. Speaking for the Trustees, we echo that and appreciate our people.”

I greatly appreciate the Board of Trustees' commitment to our staff, who are the lifeblood of our organization, and I am proud to lead such a great team of staff. I am also grateful for the many ways, big and small, that you show your appreciation and support to our staff. Our joint efforts help better serve the community and inspire minds of all kinds with services and resources offered by the Library.

Interested working at the Library and inspiring minds of all kinds? Visit our jobs page.

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