I attended Umbrella at the University of Manchester in July thanks to a CILIP bursary. I have written a piece on my visit to Umbrella for the Health Libraries Group newsletter (out September), which I will link to here when it comes out.
It was a reasonably short piece, and the two days I was there I went to a lot of presentations, lectures and alleged ‘debates’ [4 people talking on the same topic does not a debate make, CILIP!], so below are a few more of my notes from the sessions I didn’t mention in the HLG piece.
Day 1 (Tuesday 2nd July)
#CPD23 and the CILIP PKSB: an interesting talk given by Jo Alcock and Niamh Tumelty. This mainly looked at ways that the CPD23 (23 Things for Professional Development) programme, which although is not longer actively running, is available for anyone to join, maps onto the new CILIP Professional Knowledge and Skills Base. There were some areas of strength, in that it covers a lot of social media & interactivity tools, and scores highly on the ‘IT and Communications’ and ‘Organising Knowledge and information’ among others. Recommended as an interesting CPD tool.
“Debate” Session: Where does the internet end & the library begin? Debate is in scare quote as I didn’t really feel like it was a debate, more of an extended discussion session where each speaker presented their work in the increasingly blurred boundary between library and IT services. The speakers were
Shay Moradi; who gave an interesting talk about the Lemon Tree gamification project at the university of Huddersfield, which is designed to incentivize students to come into the library by offering points for things like checking books in/out and visiting the library among other things. One thing he didn’t really address were the privacy issues inherent in having everything you do at the library broadcast on a social network to your friends/lecturers, which I would certainly be concerned with.
Ben Lewis, a documentary maker whose film about Google accuses them of some fairly unsavoury practices related to the scanning and collecting of data.
Rebecca Bartlett from the Library of Birmingham, who also talked about bringing games into the new Library- there will be a app allowing visitors to integrate digitally with screens and walls in the new library space, with the idea being to make the internet an extension of the library, and increase discoverability and “I didn’t know you had that” moments.
For the afternoon the session I attended was themed “Beyond Information matters”, which included representatives from HE, FE, government and the British Library talking about new developments in digital/library interfaces.
o Reflecting on yesterday, understanding today, planning for tomorrow, from Brian Kelly, at the University of Bath
o Graham Monk, Department for Work and Pensions: difficulties of implementing new tools in an environment with out-of-date software. Highlighted the importance of robust information management in making projects successful.
o Rise of the cyborgs: the growth of librarian / IT hybrids Simon Barron, Project Analyst, the British Library
For the evening there was the drinks reception and dinner at MOSI. The choice of venue I think was perfect, when I first heard it was going to be at MOSI I imagined a dry conference room, but being able to wander round the trains and associated machinery (I’m a nerd, sue me) was a lovely way to end the day.
Day 2 (Wednesday 3rd July)
The second morning session for me was an interesting look at the role of the 1000+ KIM professionals in government information, and how they integrate with other teams to exploit the information they have to achieve their goals and enable them to get the best value for money, followed by a dash across the building for a look at mobile tech in libraries with Jo Alcock and Annmarie Lee.
Midmorning was a well-attended, entertaining talk from Ben Showers from JISC, which was ambitiously titled “Arming the Librarian of the Future” He predicted the rise of the generalist over the specialist, which would point to interesting times for specific librarian roles- would these be phased out in favour of a generalist agenda?
This was followed up with another of the so-called debates, this time on Leadership in the Information Profession. This I feel was one of the weaknesses of the programme- sessions were advertised as debates when they were really extended sessions from multiple speakers covering the same theme. This left a few people including myself feeling a little short-changed.
Regardless, it was an interesting session, the conclusion from the speakers was that whilst managers are meant to be leaders, leaders aren’t necessary managers, which was a sentiment that I think a few people there took very much to heart.
The final set of spotlight sessions I attended was themed ‘Information to Best Support Society.’ This included firstly a great session from Hannah Gore from the Open University on MOOCs, and how librarians can be involved in supporting the creation and successful implementation of programmes like this, and related technologies using VLEs etc. Next was from Suzanne Tatham who gave a talk on using twitter to create an interactive information literacy lecture, noting that it allowed normally quieter students to participate interactively in information literacy lesions. Finally a short session from Charlie Inskip on assessing the quality and value of the information literacy sessions librarians deliver, and developing iteratively based on feedback.
One of the things I found most interesting in the conference was following the hashtag, #ub13, to find out both what others thought of the talk I was in but also how the other talks running concurrently were going. I have livetweeted some events before, but never one of this size, and it was really fun to see other people’s reactions. Sometimes this provoked some jealousy if it looked like other people were having more fun than me/were in more interesting talks. Having said that, I did find it hard to keep concentrating and tweeting/reading the feed at once- I would like to know if/how others have mastered this skill, or if they have the same problems as I had- looking up from a twitter discussion to find you’ve missed a pertinent point of the talk.
Finally I’m grateful to whoever it was at CILIP who collated all the available presentation slides into a handy list, available here.