During the week of May 7 – 9 I had the pleasure of attending the 2014 Florida Library Association (FLA) Annual Conference, “Envision Excellence”, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. The theme for the conference was: “Envision Excellence”. This past year I was a member of the FLA Conference Planning Committee, consisting of over 20 highly motivated librarians from across our great state. Our task was to plan and manage the conference beginning with reviewing conference proposals and culminating in analyzing the attendee post conference survey. Attending professional conferences is invaluable and I would be remiss to attempt to mention all of the highlights in one post. Instead I will attempt to showcase several key impressions from the conference.
The FLA Annual Conference typically kicks off with an opening session featuring the keynote speaker. The Conference Planning Committee came up with the excellent idea of having the poster sessions inside the auditorium immediately before the opening session. This allowed those who had invested their time and energy in creating posters the opportunity to showcase them to a captive audience. Some of the takeaways from the poster sessions were the study on floating library collections by the Palm Beach County Library System. Three librarians conducted in depth research of libraries that had created floating collections and presented the pros and cons. One library created a comic book inspired poster session to publicize their successful comic-con, complete with a life size Chewbacca stand! Other displays showcased the creative uses of library space, library teen zones, and SEFLIN’s User Experience project.
Another new highlight this year was having engaging games during the opening of the exhibit hall. These games allowed attendees to not only have fun, but also mingle with each other and the vendors. The exhibit hall is a huge draw at each year’s conference and it was important for our committee to create a balance between work and play. One of the subcommittees created an Instagram bingo game that created competition amongst the tech savvy crowd. Flashy prizes such as a tablet and gift cards were given to the victors. Photos from this competition can be located on Instagram under #FLACon2014. A scavenger hunt ran simultaneously to ensure that those who did not use Instagram could still participate. We received many positive comments from both participants and vendors for both of these games.
There is also much meat at a conference and this year there was no shortage of engaging presentations. Areas of interest ranged from Authors & Books to Outreach & Programming and of course plenty on Technology. By far the majority of presenters were unpaid for their presentations and came on their own accord to give back to the profession. The new Executive Director of FLA Martina Brawer met with attendees on the first day to get to know the members and interact with them. The conference ended with an engaging talk by J. Jeff Kober from Disney on the Wonderful World of Customer Service. Audience members were moved not only by his inspiring stories on excellent customer service at Disney, but also by having to stand up often to participate in his presentation! Participants came away with countless tools to improve their attention to detail, from the opening speaker who taught us to look at the entire picture while examining art, dealing with “Tough Talks in Tough Times”, crafting an inspiring vision to lead, and of course improving themselves and their libraries for excellence!