in 2006, the Tulsa City-County Library implemented a Ombuds program to handle employee complaints about coworkers and supervisors. However, an investigation by the Tulsa World newspaper found that only a handful of the 325 employees used the ombudsman program last year. One former employee said that many of her coworkers do not trust the confidentiality of the program because Charlotte Frazier, the library's Ombuds and associate director of support services, reports directly to the library's CEO. Frazier said she was aware of this perception, but does not break confidentiality or mention specifics when she reports on trends. The COO said the library is aware of the need to address the perception of the Ombuds and would consider hiring an outsider if that would "help the system." Tulsa World also reported that the library is "is spending thousands of dollars each year for employee counseling that involves job stress, co-worker complaints or other issues." The library spends about $6,000 a year for counseling as part of an employee assistance program. (Tulsa World.)
As far as the Ombuds issue is concerned, this is a terrible piece of reporting. The newspaper interviewed a single disgruntled former employee, who repeated second-hand criticism, and the library Ombuds, who's practices are in keeping with standards for the profession. Even more frustrating is the implication that the direct reporting line from the Ombuds to the CEO was inappropriate. Clearly, the concept of informal conflict resolution needs better representation in Oklahoma.
Related post: Maine Library to Choose Ombuds.