Organised by The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals ( CILIP )
July 3rd to July 5th, 2003, at UMIST, Manchester UK.


Jim Jackson
C/O The Law Library
University of Exeter, UK

For those who have never been to Manchester, or the many buildings that belong to the Universities there, you are missing a treat.

I was delighted to be sponsored to attend the event and I record my grateful thanks to the National Committee for Affiliated Members for sponsoring me. Arriving at Manchester Piccadilly station with all its new building work complete is an inspiring start.

The UMIST buildings are about 5 or 10 minutes walk from the station, and relatively easy to find.

I was worried that I might not find the check in point or perhaps even be first to arrive. But the reception staff soon dispelled any such fears. Having fixed my security badge in place I set off to find my room and what to do next. There were hundreds of people around, and all seemed very friendly. I had a rough plan of what I wanted to see and do at Umbrella, with an event this big you have to have a plan of some sort. Most CILIP groups have training events going on, with a wide variety of topics but it is possible to change attendance plans at short notice, as I did. Although this can lead problems with space for attendees.

Having checked in I was off to my first workshop, which was about the new design of the CILIP website. This was a chance to meet the web site team and the designers of the new pages. It was also an opportunity to say what I thought the new set up should have in it, and discuss some security issues. Then it was off to see the opening of the trade exhibition. I was pleased to see that this was not all ‘hard sell’ but inform as well. Followed closely by an invitation to attend the First Timers Tea Party, which was a chance to get a cup of tea and a cream cake but also to meet other similar people. We were all new to the event so felt somewhat at ease with each other. Not only was there a chance to meet new people but also say hello to some of the staff from CILIP who I knew. This was an excellent way to start and the relaxed approach dispelled any lingering doubts there may be about coming. This is an international event with members coming from all over the world. There were people from all over the UK, and Europe, as well as from other parts of the world. Regular readers of Associates may recall a previous article I wrote called ‘Professionals at IFLA’ last year (March 2002), which discussed the whole idea of meeting people at such meetings. See web address http://www.associates.ucr.edu/fjack302.htm

One of the things about Umbrella is that one event tends to follow another in quick succession, so it was then off to the opening speech by Mark Wood. He is the new Chief of Re-source, as well as head of the supplier of the news to ITN. He started off by asking us to consider the developments in news and information gathering over the last 60 years. Being librarians he thought we should have some idea on this. From the ‘Brown’ issue to back up data terminals. He showed a short video on this topic, which was amazing for its scope. It showed an old film of teaching people, in a classroom, how to use a telephone, it then switched to using an early 80’s style mobile phone, or ‘brick’ as it was called because of its weight. It then switched to scenes beamed directly from a news reporter in a tank during the last Iraq war. What had all this to do with Librarians? It was, and is, to do with the flow and control of information to the public. Moving from a very controlled access to the media, to one of almost open access with the great proviso that you can access this flow of information. As this information comes at a price via satellite or cable, or via internet connections. Who pays for this is the great question. Public libraries, academic institutions or private individuals? With the role of libraries developing, in a sense to being all inclusive of media rather than just books. This style of library is a development of huge proportions.

This was an inspiring start to the event for me, and all the other delegates who packed the lecture theatre. Then it was on to the trade exhibition, and talking to the large number of companies, and organisations, which had come.

Then after a brief pause it was off to the PTEG AGM and Reception, and a talk by Angela Abell, Director of TFPL.

The evening meal was a chance to stop and eat, as well as more talking. This was followed by a selection of events, such as Poetry reading or Karaoke, but I went for the quiet drink in the Bar with a selection of other delegates.

After an early breakfast it was off to the first session. This was on the proposed launch of the new ‘Gazette’ by CILIP designed to complement the publication of ‘Update’. One of the aims is to increase the amount of income from advertisements but also to increase the amount of coverage for Branches and Groups news, and related articles. Despite the early hour there were a fair number of delegates attending. This was then followed by the Affiliates Group session entitled "Social Inclusion – The way forward," lead by John Vincent, a freelance trainer and researcher. The initial expectation of having 20 people in the room was soon exceed to the Chair of the session’s delight, and speaker’s surprise. This was an interactive session lead by Mr. Vincent who asked a number of incisive questions on what was social inclusion and exclusion, and how to deal with a large number of related problems. Staffing levels and stress related issues were also discussed.

A much-needed coffee break followed by the next session, this time lead by the Career Development Group entitled "Qualifications and CPD." This was lead by Marion Huckle, from CILIP. She gave an outline of the new matrix of qualifications that is proposed. With an explanation of how this should be reflected in a member’s move up the membership ranks of the organisation. From student member, to full membership and Fellowship. This will allow both academically qualified members and those with vocational qualifications to move up the organisation structure. Acknowledging the success of qualification, practical skills and competence’s of all those concerned. There are plans to have a revalidation of qualifications, by portfolio management introduced, for all those who have both academic and vocational qualifications. The length of time between revalidation has not been set yet but is likely to be between three and five years. This is likely to be done at a regional level rather than national, under guidelines issued nationally. Check out the CILIP web site for the latest on this.

After a chance to rest over a packed lunch and cup of tea, in the pleasant gardens surrounding the buildings there was a chance to visit the Sponsors exhibitions again, and discuss some ideas with them.

For my last seminar of the day I decided to attend the Branch and Mobiles Libraries Group meeting. Alan Moir is the Libraries, Museums and Achieves Manager for the East Riding and Yorkshire Council. He started with a short explanation of the area, and the number of services that they offer. East Riding is the second biggest authority in the country but has no central library, but three area libraries. It does have 350 mobile library stops, and 26 branch libraries. 20 % of its inhabitants have no car, and have to rely on public transport. A lot of work has gone into a service review, and some of the implications of this service development were discussed. By amending static branch library opening and improving the mobile library fleet they have increased usage by the general population. It has also taken account of users wishes in terms of hours of opening and access to E Learning. The mobiles are now equipped with state of the art PC’s and can offer help and assistance with these. More information on this service can be found at http://www.eastriding.gov.uk/index.html.

After such an exhausting day of seminars it was a relief to have an hour or two of free time, before preparing for the evening event. I took advantage of the opportunity to look around the main UMIST campus library, which was much bigger than I had expected. Details of which can be found at: http://www2.umist.ac.uk/library/jbegin.html#howtofind.

The choice for the evening was either culture or costume, a trip to the Imperial War Museum North or a Black Tie Formal dress dinner dance. I choose the culture of the Imperial War Museum. Arriving at the Museum the first impression you get is of size. It is vast. Inside a wide collection of artefacts from the First World War, to recent conflicts in the world, such as Kuwait. In addition to the exhibits there is a sound and visual exhibition as well. Having very high ceilings means those images can be projected on to walls and ceilings creating new displays as you walk around. The highlight of the evening was a three-course meal served along side some of the exhibits. I can honestly say that sitting next to a T62 Russian Tank and an artillery piece from the First World War is something I shall not forget.

After a late night out there were still more seminars and displays to see on Saturday morning. I visited the Branch and Mobile Meeting held in the display yard outside the main buildings. Having heard the description of the mobiles the previous day I was keen to see the real thing. It was most impressive, as was the Farries Flyer, sponsored by Farries International book sellers.

After all this excitement I then had to leave to catch my train home, and a chance to collect my thoughts on the event, the people I meet, and the ideas that it gave me.

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