Back before City Council, Free Library vows to do better on diversity, inclusion

Pat Loeb
April 30, 2019 - 8:31 pm
Philadelphia City Hall.

Holli Stephens / KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Free Library's board of trustees has established a committee on diversity and inclusion in response to a City Council request during heated budget hearings two weeks ago. Library officials were back before council Tuesday to report on the new committee.  

There is perhaps no issue that gets more attention in budget hearings than workforce diversity, and questioning of the library was particularly intense this year because an anonymous online staff survey found non-white employees felt disrespected and marginalized. 

Library officials were given marching orders to report back on efforts to improve the situation. 

Related: 'You need to do more': Library budget hearing gets heated over diversity concerns

Trustee and committee co-chair Chris Arlene showed there's nothing like a deadline.

"We had our first meeting at 11:30 this morning," he said. 

Given how new the committee is, Arlene had few details to share. 

But Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, who led the questioning, said she was satisfied that the effort was sincere, at least for now.

"A year from now, I won't be here, but I'm going to make sure my colleagues ask these same questions," she said.