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CILIP Umbrella: Thoughts

So, having finally finished blogging my sessions from CILIP Umbrella (and about to start on the 2000 words UKeIG have asked for in return for their generous sponsorship), I guess I should try and jot down some general impressions on the conference.

Overall, it was an interesting experience. Smaller in scale than SLA (obviously – we are a much smaller country after all!), but I actually liked that about it. It was easier to get to know people, and not as overwhelming as I’ve found larger conferences. It was certainly educational, although I don’t know how much of what I’ve learned will be of practical use – but then, I don’t see anything wrong with learning for learning’s sake.

The gala dinner on Tuesday evening was good fun, although I wasn’t so sure on their choice of after dinner speaker: Eve Pollard served up a string of well-rehearsed anecdotes and rather lame jokes, which I don’t think went down too well. One person I spoke to at the exhibition the following day tactfully suggested that perhaps she does so many speeches that she just rearranges the material to fit the occasion. Some of the Twitterers at the event were less diplomatic: @llordllama summed the speech up as “I’ve lived a fabulous life and you’re all peasants”. I think I’m siding with his llama-ness on this one…

The karaoke after the Gala dinner was, well, an experience. I didn’t sing: me and @librarian_chic made a pact – friends don’t let friends do karaoke, no matter how drunk you get! Of course, somebody sang Rihanna’s “Umbrella” – fair play to him, but perhaps he should have made sure he actually knew the song before agreeing to sing it…

I didn’t spend much time at the exhibition – I didn’t really have anything to talk about with any of the vendors – but the poster sessions were interesting. Congratulations to the two award winning posters – very well deserved!

The Libraries Change Lives Award presentation on the Wednesday was very moving – a good reminder of the truly inspirational work that libraries/librarians can do and are doing (does make me a little sad that I’m working in a sector where the only difference I make is to help lawyers make more money. Not that I don’t love my job, but I don’t think it’s half as rewarding as the jobs that the three nominees for the award were doing). Check out the two finalists – the Edinburgh Reading Champion Project and the Six Books Challenge – and the very deserving winner, Across the Board (a project to help families whose children have autism).

There was a good mix of topics covered – I never struggled to find a session I wanted to attend. There is a perception that CILIP doesn’t have much to offer people working in the commercial sector, but I got plenty out of it – although some delegates were a little surprised when I told them that I worked for a law firm (one woman demanded “well what are you doing here then?” when I said I was a law librarian!). I would definitely recommend going, particularly to someone like myself, who is at the start of their career and not 100% on what they want to do next.

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