Boston Public Library

The Situation

In December 2014, the City of Boston engaged us to conduct a financial and operational assessment of the Boston Public Library (BPL). The evaluation included all services (Library Services, Community Services, Museum Services, and Event Planning and Coordination) for the Boston Public Library whose holdings ($23M) are second only to the Library of Congress ($35M). The assessment identified and quantified areas of strength and weakness and proposed specific action plans for high priority improvement areas. This highly publicized audit served as a valuable roadmap for the Mayor of Boston during a tumultuous time in the library’s history as it was released simultaneous with the announcement of a significant loss of high value artwork at the library (over $600K).

Role(s)

  • Financial
  • Operational

The Work

We used a time-boxed approach to focus most heavily on the areas of greatest impact and benchmarked our findings against peer data research. This allowed us to provide detailed action plans in the top 10 key improvement areas: Union Cooperation, Prioritization and Accountability, Employee Performance Management, Fundraising, Inventory Management, Implementation Mindset, Website Design and Implementation, Technology Leverage, and Hiring.

The Results

  • $1.5M in additional annual funding gap identified
  • $1.1M total cost avoidance opportunity related to improved inventory management and possible sale off non-core special collections
  • Identified necessity to close the gap from current 19% of assets searchable to something closer to the peer average of 92%
  • An estimated $0.5M – $1.5M in annual revenue opportunity identified from newly commercialized space by consolidating staff and making more efficient use of highly valuable real estate
  • Increased percentage of interactions where patrons resolve requests with a single staff interaction
  • Identified the need to speed implementation of key improvements through increased cooperation of unions and decreased negotiation where not required by contracts
  • Identified the need to improve organizational effectiveness through technology upgrades

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Overview

  • Not-for-Profit
  • Assessments