Monday, 1 September 2008

Umbrella 09: the rockingest Umbrella yet?

With membership of the Public Libraries Group Committee comes great responsibility, as Peter Parker (almost) said. My responsibility is being the Group's liaison to Umbrella, the great big biennial conference for all library staff.

PLG is one of the biggest Special Interest Groups in CILIP. Possibly even the biggest, but since I can't back it up it's not a claim I'll make here. On joining the Committee, I was told that the Group works us hard, and that's certainly turning out to be the case for me.

Umbrella has nine conference tracks and six sessions. We're aiming to have something going on in each session, plus the announcement of the Public Library Building Awards shortlist. That's a lot for a noob like me to do, and it's been a learning experience. I went into the first Umbrella meeting somewhat overprepared, with 10+ suggestions for sessions from PLG Committee and your humble author. Lesson 1: don't overcook it.

Since then, I've managed to get my six suggested sessions arranged, and I've emailed them to CILIP where they'll be considered by the Director of Studies for the conference. I had scads of emails from other Groups' representatives, all stating that they normally do something with PLG. It's nice to be popular, but I've had to ditch a couple of my own ideas to maintain good relations with our fellow Special Interest Groups. Another speaker I really wanted didn't feel that the timing was appropriate for various assorted and complicated reasons: I've got my fingers crossed for them, and for some of my other ideas, in 2011.

I'm proud of the programme I've pulled together. Since Umbrella is genuinely a conference for all inhabitants of LibraryLand, I've tried to get a balance: some serious stuff; some whizz-bang technology stuff; some worthy stuff; and some fun stuff. Mostly fun stuff, to be honest.

I'll blog more details when I can. Expect a happy Michael in three weeks if they've all been accepted, and a sulky Michael otherwise.