Statement of Benefit from Natasha Hayes

Statement of Benefit from Southwest Florida Library Network Scholarship FLA Annual Conference

Natasha Hayes, Hendry County Cooperative Library Director
June 7, 2018

With the library world consistently changing, funds reduced, and needs arising within communities, the ability to attend such an amazing event, the Florida Library Association Annual Conference, was definitely informative and greatly needed. As I attended numerous sessions throughout this three day convention, I will discuss two sessions that were discussed amongst my return with my colleagues immediately.

The first session which resonates deeply with me was the Workplace Violence/Active Shooter session presented by Deputy Kevin Kraubetz. As this session was highly attended with knowledgeable library staff and participants, many facts and details discussed rattled the audience. As most of the world knows, attacks are occurring all around us and some closer than we would like to think. Although this was not set up as a drill, the information disseminated provided detailed accounts of the violence that is possible in every venue such as libraries, hospitals, and churches to name a few. As Mr. Kraubetz provided a short movie clip, audience members were able to prepare themselves for such situations. He discussed the three main steps all staff and community members should know in such cases: Run/Escape, Hide, and lastly Fight. As most of us were uneasy with the Fight aspect for survival, he did make clear that all other options should be exhausted first. With such great information being provided but the time limit being reached for the presentation, many audience members yearned for more information as we wanted to learn more. There must have been approximately 25-35 individuals who stayed after the session to speak directly with Deputy Kraubetz.

As this session was of extreme importance, I spoke with both of my other library director’s upon my return in order to ensure the safety and security of our buildings, staff members, and patrons. I am pleased to announce that one of our locations has recently installed a new surveillance system as we continue to enter unchartered territories as it pertains to library safety.

The second session which I found truly enlightening was the Recycled Dreams Fashion Show which was provided by the Manatee County Public Library. With at least 50-75 others, we learned how a library system began with a small recycling idea and transformed it into to an annual fashion show. Who knew that prom dresses could be created fully from recyclable material. As the presenters described the event as well as the rules for entering this show, the audience was astonished at their creations. I believe sometimes we do not give enough credit to the artistic abilities of our community members/patrons. As we sat and marveled at the purses, dresses, hats, and other accessories, it reminded us that there are a lot of creative ways that we as librarians can make a difference in the world. Ensuring a clean environment, especially for our waterways, lakes, and neighborhoods is of high importance and often easily neglected.

Although, I have only touched on two great programs provided at this year’s FLA Annual Conference, this is not even the tip of the iceberg of sessions, meet and greets, vendors, exhibits and more that were highlighted and available at this event. Makerspaces, Coding Clubs, Winning Grant Proposals and more were sessions enjoyed by many.

I also want to mention how grateful I am for this event as many people forget that networking and common peer communications is imperative for our jobs as librarians. Without being able to meet with likeminded individuals who are eager to provide world class services in Florida to our patrons, we would lack in knowledge, cohesiveness, and information sharing. These events provide time for such networking to occur which is essential to all libraries. The ability to meet with vendors and attend technology centered sessions is also imperative to us all as libraries move forward and offer a wide range of classes, trainings, and hands on learning for all to enjoy.

I cannot thank Southwest Florida Library enough for their scholarship program which paved the way for my attendance at this year’s event. Due to limited budgets and staff shortages, attendance at such events is rarely attended by me and/or my staff. The assistance provided by SWFLN covered the cost for my registration fee for the conference, travel costs, as well as accommodations.