For me, the Retreat was worthwhile for two reasons:
1. To hear Valerie Horton from Minetex speak. Not only was the topic valuable, but it was good to have her exposed to our situation, especially given that it was a small group and we got to chat more than a typical presentation like that usually allows. I would venture to say she learned as much from us and we did from her. Those kinds of situations and experiences are as valuable as they are rare.
2. It gave each regional library exposure to the other and I think it was interesting that we found more common ground than differences, even though each region operates completely differently. It would be nice to build on that through more cooperative initiatives and sharing information, but I don’t think it would work given the preferences of the two systems’ leaders.
I certainly think we should do it again, although the difficulties that were encountered putting this one together will not be any different if there is a next time. It was disappointing that so many could not attend, too. Unfortunately, for many of the Plum Creek folks, the date was publicized too late and many already had plans. I also think that some of them were loath to give up a Saturday, which I expect was done to encourage more school librarians to attend, but none did. On the Pioneerland side, it seemed that they were not encouraged to go or some could not get release time, so while the end result was the same (very few from each region attended), it was for very different reasons.
I also enjoyed doing my two presentations. I always learn from each group doing that and this was no exception. The only presentation that was disappointing was the History Day one. It was good to hear what they were doing, but I felt like there were mixed messages (whether it has to be done through schools or at least sponsored by them, whether there’s a role for public libraries beyond being a work and resource place, etc.) and no real path for us to take to participate or even take the lead. A few of us talked afterward and we came up with some ideas, which was helpful, but more direction from the speakers would have been better.