Pine River: Beto arrives as new library branch manager - Erickson, Browser the library cat retire
Amidst the solemn farewells for former branch manager Muriel Erickson and Browser the library cat, visitors to the Pine River Public Library officially greeted Tami Beto as the new branch manager Friday, Nov. 30.
For Beto, moving to Pine River is a goal that she and her husband, Scott, are realizing after many years of waiting for the stars to align. It's a step that perhaps would not have appeared likely 10 or so years ago, before she entered the library world.
"I'm a numbers, accounting kind of person," Beto said. "I thought it was my passion and where I wanted to be, but I have always loved to read and volunteered at the library. The insurance office I was at had to downsize and the library I was at had a part-time opening. It brought me to Pine River."
Before coming to Pine River, Beto worked for eight years at the library in Wells, working her way up from volunteer to clerk, then assistant director and director in April 2015. It was a job that Beto really fell in love with. So much so that even when she and her husband's four children moved out, they planned their future partially around her ability to stay in the library world.
"My husband is from the Detroit Lakes area and we always wanted to move back up north," Beto said. "We said when the kids were on their own we would move, but I just love my job. The library has opened up so many things for me. Like they say - when you have a job you love, you don't work. That is what the library is for me. I said I couldn't move or go anywhere until these two paths crossed."
A friend told Beto about the Pine River Library branch manager opening upon Erickson's retirement. Beto said she was surprised and grateful when she was hired.
"It's huge," Beto said. "Where I'm from they seem to hire within and keep going up that way. I was shocked when I came up for the interview and when they called to offer me the position. It's a wonderful opportunity."
Beto had a very short orientation into the Pine River Public Library before taking over at the end of November.
"I had two and a half days to learn everything from her (Erickson), which is tough because she's been here a while and there are huge shoes to fill," Beto said.
Beto is looking forward to merging her library style with what Pine River is used to, though without throwing people off.
"I don't want to be a tornado and just change everything," Beto said.
She said the library in Wells had less extra programming with visiting authors and other events. She also said she's learning that the local libraries really need to work for funding, though she has talents that might come in handy there.
"I am a huge grant writer," Beto said.
Beto also expects to enhance the programming at the library with such things as escape room events.
"I build them in libraries, not over-elaborate," Beto said. "In October I did a "Star Wars"-themed escape room. That is something Muriel said people are hungry for."
Beto also looks forward to creating more activities specifically for teenagers. First, however, she plans to get to know the community and the programming that Pine River is used to.
"I want to learn more about Cupcake Wars," Beto said. "That seems to be a big thing. I've never done a program like that or seen one. It's really just learning. I need to take a couple months just to learn more about the area and how the library is used."
Beto said she has big shoes to fill, but she won't be alone in doing so. She still has the assistance of experienced staff from the library, and Erickson, though she will be retired, has promised to return from time to time for events and to bring Browser with her.