Thanks to the partnership with SAMMIE, Plum Creek Library System was able to provide to its member library staff a staff retreat in April. We chose “Providing Great Customer Service and Creative Ways to Market Your Library”, for our theme for this event, and judging by the evaluations we received following the retreat, those who attended really appreciated the information presented and time allotted for healthy discussion. It was so refreshing to hold this event for library staff members since they rarely are fortunate enough to have these opportunities to gather with their peers, make new library connections, and gain valuable inspiration for performing their jobs.
Our retreat took place at the Shalom Hill Farm, a retreat center tucked into the rural landscape near Storden, Minnesota. It is a lovely facility that served our needs perfectly, with a full sized kitchen, several small meeting rooms and a large gathering area. In addition, there were lovely rooms for those who lodged overnight. The vista surrounding the retreat center afforded a panoramic view of the countryside, and a keen sense of tranquility was present on the grounds where chickens roamed freely and a herd of sheep, led by a single llama, wandered the pasture.
The first evening, those gathered were treated to a presentation by librarian Meredith Vaselaar, who spoke about a publicity campaign that she devised, “Library Crime Scheme”, and continues to use at her library. The next morning, librarian Teri Smith spoke to the group gathered on customer service. Her presentation, “Service is the Key”, was inspiring and provided invaluable information for everyone. Librarians Angela McDougall and Emilirose Rasmusson demonstrated ways to make creative displays for the library, and other clever programs that they have implemented at their library. Day 2 wrapped up with a sharing session with participants commenting, making suggestions, or just discussing things that are important to them.
SAMMIE’s scholarships made this dream a reality for Plum Creek. The retreat was arranged so that it would cost nothing to the library system, since presently there is no budget for such events like this. The registration fee covered the costs that were involved, including lodging (for those who stayed overnight), materials, site rental, and speaker stipends. We asked several library members to serve as presenters and paid them a small honorarium in appreciation. Retreat attendees provided food for the event on a sign-up basis so again, the costs were kept to a minimum. Considering many of the libraries’ budgets, again it was such a benefit to offer them the option of a SAMMIE scholarship. Without SAMMIE this wonderful event would not have been possible.
It is clear that those who attended the retreat wish to have another one, and will encourage other staff members to attend as well. We all left with a sense of accomplishment, a refreshed point of view, and a keen desire to approach our jobs in a new fashion.