Twenty-three Library staff members met in December for a day-and-a-half retreat at the CIGI Campus in Uptown Waterloo. Their mission: To revisit and build upon the ideas and information generated in the department and committee self-studies and to explore possible directions for the next phase of the Library Review.
The group included managers, committee chairs, and other staff members from departments across the Library. Jo Nelson from ICA Associates Inc. facilitated the retreat with assistance from her colleague Emma Sobel. Alison Hitchens, Kathy Szigeti, and Kathy MacDonald also helped to plan and organize the retreat and were in attendance.
Over the day and a half, Jo led staff through exercises reminiscent of those from the self-studies (think journey walls, flip charts, and cards!), but with more of a future focus. Right from the start, she encouraged everyone to “wear multiple hats" — essentially, to bring their own ideas to the retreat’s exercises as well as those from their departments and committees. No topics were off limits and all ideas and perspectives were valued.
With all limitations set aside, participants brainstormed, clustered ideas, and collaborated in small group activities and all-group discussions. Key exercises included:
- Reviewing the Library's mission statement - The group reviewed and discussed the Library's mission statement, agreeing that it is, perhaps surprisingly, still very relevant today. Everyone acknowledged that some of the terminology requires updating and Alex McCulloch and Nancy Collins agreed to take on this task in the New Year.
- Summarizing the Library’s journey and identifying trends – Staff reviewed the posted journey walls and identified the things that stood out across journey walls. They created a journey wall for the Library as a whole and identified some of the trends visible from this exercise.
- Imagining the Library in 5 years – The group explored the question,“What do we want the Library to be and be doing in 5 years?” Staff came up with a wide range of possibilities.
- Identifying obstacles – Jo asked staff to identify the obstacles that are blocking the Library from achieving its vision, encouraging everyone to think beyond “not enough money” or “not enough staff” to uncover the more meaningful and addressable obstacles. The group came up with a range of potential obstacles.
- Developing topics for exploration in the next stages of the Library Review – Jo asked the group to answer the question, "What topics do we need to explore / look at more closely to create strategic directions?" The group came up with 11 topics for potential exploration.
- Developing a strategy for investigating topics – Participants formed groups and had 45 minutes to develop a plan to guide working groups in the next phase of the Library Review. The groups documented their plans on flipcharts and the activity ended with everyone reviewing the charts.
The retreat closed with staff members reflecting on the high and low points of the previous day and a half, sharing memorable words and moments, and identifying things that they will do differently because of what they learned.
Many thanks Jo for facilitating the retreat, to Annette Dandyk for coordinating the event, and to all retreat participants!
Retreat participants (from left to right): Leeanne Romane, Mary Stanley, Annette Dandyk, Debbie Tytko,
Annie Bélanger, Eva Dodsworth, Christine Jewell, Alison Hitchens, Jane Forgay, Sharon Lamont (in front), Kathy MacDonald (in back), Pascal Calarco (in front), Carl Nagel (in back), Nancy Collins, Susan Routliffe, Betty Graf, Susan Mavor, Mark Haslett, Jennifer Haas, Alex McCulloch, Kathy Szigeti, Richard Pinnell, Michele Laing.
Communications and Liaison Librarian
January 19, 2012