Leading Forward!

Selecting a theme can always be a challenge, but it is exciting as we get to think about all the ways it will be integrated into programs and events throughout the year and at our annual conference. It is also rewarding and inspiring to see how others interpret the theme, get creative, and go far beyond the original ideas when it was first imagined. In choosing the theme Leading Forward, the goal is to inspire leadership at all levels and constant movement in a positive direction.

While brainstorming this concept with many of my friends and colleagues, two areas of focus emerged for Leading Forward and putting libraries out in front. One is to motivate a push that encourages and inspires our Association to keep things moving forward with a growth mindset. The other is to ignite a culture in libraries that embraces taking on challenges, stepping out of our comfort zones, and becoming part of the leadership conversations in our communities. Leading Forward and being out in front matters, because we all know that when libraries are in the lead great things happen.

This will be another big year for FLA. We'll be embarking on the development of our next strategic plan and determining the priorities and best direction for our Association. We recognize that things are moving at a more rapid pace than ever before. So, we’ll be preparing hard and fast for challenges and opportunities in the immediate and not too distant future. We’ll also be planning for the years just over the horizon and laying more groundwork to position FLA as a foundation of support for all of Florida’s libraries and for the membership that is the heart of the organization.

Leading Forward is about encouraging others and building a culture that inspires everyone in libraries to get involved in the conversation. Telling our stories, participating, advocating, stepping out in front and leading the way, even when it scares us, is how we put libraries in the forefront of the minds of decision makers.  Influencing these individuals is key as they often make crucial decisions impacting our funding, the levels of service we can provide to our communities, and the prospects for future growth.      

In order to have an impact that will truly make a difference for all of Florida’s libraries, we’ll need participation at levels not seen before.  Our Association is not all that different from those you work with in your own libraries and local communities.  We often see many of the same people stepping up and taking the lead in projects and taking on a lion’s share of the tasks. We also see them getting things done and producing a level of work that is nothing short of amazing.  There is no doubt that these folks are awesome individuals that love libraries and FLA, but we don’t want to burn them out. We need to share the love and bring more people in.

Leading Forward is about creating an environment that is welcoming and beneficial to growing our ranks and expanding our membership.  It is reaching out to others and encouraging them to be fully engaged, supporting our committees, finding and then facilitating more ways to grow our Association so that everyone can play a role in putting libraries out in front. This type of participation not only benefits FLA, but also our individual libraries and all the groups that support us and share our passion for what libraries do.   

For some, it does require challenging ourselves, stepping outside of our comfort zone and taking the lead in a new area. Others among us love the challenge and can encourage and support our colleagues in Leading Forward by taking the lead in our own community and library. We can take the lead from wherever we are, with local teams and workgroups, projects or tasks, even with our own professional and personal development. The more we are joining together and Leading Forward, from all aspects of our profession, the stronger FLA will be, the stronger our libraries will be, and that will benefit all the many varied and unique communities that we serve. 

One last thing. Let's not forget that FLA is recognizing its 100th anniversary this year! We will definitely have some fun with this, and it will be great to see what creative ideas emerge to help us celebrate. Let’s all join together in remembering our Association’s history and reminisce about all of the wonderful and talented people through the years that have played a role in shaping such a successful century for the Florida Library Association.



Eric Head
2019-2020 FLA President