Some final reflections on Umbrella:
The blogging experience: there didn't seem to be many of us, but I think if we're to start to use some of the modern tools that can enrich conferences (cf Brian Kelly) the infrastructure needs to be better (and the weird charging systems for wifi needs attention; not only did we have to pay though the service was supposed to be sponsored by 7 Side, one wondered what, if anything, they paid, and what for), but the vouchers expired after twenty-four hours. And the Ibis where I stayed offered nothing but a dial-up line. There are venues that are better equipped to support a modern conference; perhaps we should go to them.
Social aspects: librarians at play are a fearsome sight. The Manchester Art Gallery was a gorgeous place for the President's reception and the Friday night dinner
UMIST: really is unattractive.
Manchester itself is an interesting city; it makes attempts at sophistication but doesn't always manage it. I had an excellent lunch at an Italian restaurant one day, very good food, generally good service, though the waiters did rush me a little, but that's the price one pays for eating on one's own, but the company...!
I went into a bar for a drink before the presidential reception; the bar was reasonable though the young man who served me was gauche. But on the bar was leaflet advertising a singer who would appear there the following evening. She was described as a jazz singer, which I very much doubt, but the leaflet went on to tell the reader that she had sung at Wayne Rooney's 18th birthday party, something I would keep very quiet about if it was on my cv.
The programme was generally good, though I did wonder how some papers made it. In keeping with the idea that we need to make our research more rigourous, perhaps a more formal process would help: a call for abstracts, scrutiny by a properly qualified and constituted scientific programme committee, publication of the proceedings and so on. Devolving the programme to groups makes for very uneven quality.