The Library has made "clear and steady progress" in its drive for greater job opportunity at all levels of its 4,600-person staff, LC Chief of Staff Suzanne Thorin said May 17.
In an interview, Ms. Thorin said that since the Library began its massive overhaul of the Human Resources policy and process 18 months ago, staff cutbacks and severe budget constraints have complicated efforts by Dr. Billington and senior managers to open up jobs and promotion opportunities for women and minorities.
Even so, she said, under the 1994-2000 LC strategic plan, these efforts have retained their high priority. Items:
- LC's senior-level performance appraisal system now includes expanded responsibilities for equal job opportunity -- and a similar appraisal system will be applied to all managers and supervisors later this year.
- The new competitive selection system in hiring and promotion has been used to select nine people during the past year for "critical" professional and administrative positions -- four are African American, one is Hispanic, one is Asian American, one is American Indian and one is Caucasian.
- The Affirmative Action intern program has been expanded to 30 persons, who will move from technical to professional or administrative jobs after two years of training.
Program managers are now selecting the 30 interns from among hundreds of applicants. Said Ms. Thorin: "We know of no other program as extensive, relative to the size of the agency workforce, elsewhere in the federal government."
- The $1 million privately funded Leadership Development Program to train 10 managers from minority groups is due to start operating this summer.
- The Management Team's seven service unit heads now include one Hispanic male, one black male, one black female, one white female and three white males.
"A rising tide lifts all boats, Ms. Thorin said, referring to the LC annual budget and hiring opportunities, "but the tide has been falling. We are downsizing. We have lost 395 positions since 1992 alone. This makes it difficult to make the rapid progress we all want. So we have been pushing very hard to recruit as widely as possible for the few jobs that do open up."
"We also assign a continuing high priority to utilizing the talent in our own work force -- with the affirmative action interns and the leadership program as prime examples," she said.
"Furthermore, whenever we limit postings for jobs to internal recruitment, we have already determined that we will be able to produce a diverse group of applicants," she said.
The latest overhaul of LC's personnel practices began after the Aug. 14, 1992, partial summary judgment rendered against LC by U.S. District Court Judge Norma Johnson in the Cook class action racial discrimination suit. The judge ordered the attorneys in the case to negotiate a settlement. In April, lawyers for the class plaintiffs -- present and former black LC employees -- announced that they and lawyers for LC and the U.S. Attorney's Office had agreed on a settlement involving various remedies and an $8.5 million award to the plaintiffs.
The proposed settlement still faces lengthy legal procedures before it receives final court approval.