Information Update - Fall 2010

Library Staff Retreat

Building on the success of the 2009 librarians-only retreat, the entire staff of the library participated in the first ever daylong retreat for all Weinberg employees in the DeNaples Center on Wednesday, June 2. The retreat planning committee, consisting of George Aulisio, Annette Kalwaytis, Donna Mazziotti, Sheila Ferraro, Vince Yanusauskas and Betsey Moylan, met regularly during the spring semester to devise a program that would appeal to all levels of staff, provide participants continuing education, and give employees a chance to interact with each other in a relaxing setting.
After initial introductions and refreshments, the first session opened with a speaker from the Advocacy Alliance, who gave the library staff some useful information on how to handle patrons who may have emotional or psychological problems. Because the library is open to members of the public, we often experience non-traditional users who may seek refuge in the building. The University offers counseling services to our students who may experience emotional or psychological problems, but patrons who have no affiliation can present a challenge to those staff members who interact with this population on a regular basis. Bill Buck, a community intervention specialist with the Alliance, described some types of behaviors that afflict this group of patrons and gave the audience some helpful tips on staying calm and rational in an uncomfortable situation. He provided us with insights into how to best handle a number of scenarios that could present a challenge. The library staff had numerous questions regarding actual incidents they had experienced, and Bill addressed them satisfactorily. He sent a packet of pockets cards and brochures describing helplines and mental health services available in the community as a follow-up. These brochures have been placed at the service desks in the library.
Following a short break, the retreat continued with a two-part session, conducted by April Herring, a communication and HR professional who led the group in the True Colors Personality Workshop. One of the planning committee members had participated in this workshop at a state conference and felt that it would be well received by the library staffers. The workshop builds on the personality theories of Meyers-Briggs, Carl Jung and David Keirsy. Several interactive exercises were used to help participants identify their personality type. There are four main types associated with the theory; therefore each individual takes one color as their identifying trait. Once the initial exercise is complete, the large group breaks into smaller sub-groups based on their profile. This eventually leads to a number of discussion questions and a better understanding of human characteristics and intrinsic behaviors. The main goal of the workshop is to help participants enhance life skills in areas such as conflict resolution, career development, teaching and learning styles, leadership and management styles, and interpersonal communication. There was a fairly even representation among the library staff as we divided into the four color groups after taking the initial assessment. Depending on the traits of each group, there was much discussion as to how we were alike (or different).
As the retreat broke for lunch, it was interesting to see how the staff members of like colors sat at tables with their respective colors. The afternoon session continued to build on the principles learned in the morning and to see how knowing your type can help with accommodating your work styles to that of your colleagues.
Upon returning to the library the next day, blues sought out their fellow blues to continue discussing their analysis, yellows concluded that they were indeed the "worker bees" of the library, the greens deliberated their position as thinkers, and the oranges conceptualized plans for next year's topics.
Evaluations for the retreat were complimentary, and overall the staff was pleased to spend a day devoted to learning about how to better cope with problem patrons and understand the work styles and personality traits of their co-workers. The evaluation also provided the planning committee with several potential topics for next year's retreat.
Betsey Moylan
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition