2014 Lessons Learned

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Code4Lib 2014 Conference Planning -- Lessons Learned

Venue planning and negotiation

  • A conference services planning organization, like CONCENTRA, has significant experience in contract details that volunteer planners would unlikely have.
  • Venue negotiation takes a significant amount of time. Total of nearly four (5) months of visits, informational calls, and negotiations.
  • Hotel block negotiations are valuable, especially in the fine print of cancellation clauses, re-selling of unsold rooms, penalties of underselling, and scheduled kickbacks at certain increments.


  • The venue of C4L2014 could hold 350 people
  • To ensure registration Presenters, Preconference Organizers, and Sponsors (Platinum, Gold, and Table), initial registration was capped at 325. This filled in approximately 48 hours.
  • Demand for Code4Lib 2014 was 420 based on registrations and wait list.
  • Local registrations by the hosting libraries (Duke, NCSU, UNC) was 41 registrations.
  • CONCENTRA's registration system had some technical limitations as to data input and flow, but CONCENTRA handled all processing with little assistance by volunteers.


  • 46.8% of the estimated cost of C4L2014 was provided by sponsorships. The registration cost of $165 per person covered another 46.8%. The remaining balance of C4L2013 covered the remaining 6-7%.
  • To keep registration costs low, it is critical the Sponsorship Committee raise a minimum of $50,000 per year.
  • The Code4Lib2014 Sponsorship Prospectus was a significant tool in raising money this year.


  • Getting sizing that works for everyone is hard.
  • There may be some design fatigue in the community.
  • Consider some other type of swag that doesn't involve sizing difficulties -- like re-usable coffee mugs (then attendees could use them all conference!)
  • When putting out a call for any graphics, ensure that the formats submitted are usable in production.

Food and Beverage

  • Coffee in unlimited quantities is valued more highly than food at breaks.
  • Using negotiation to buy "off menu" will save money.


  • Consider a winnowing process for pre-conferences to limit them in advance of registration to the number of rooms that you have. Could either do advance voting like with talks, or say that you have x number of rooms and take the top x pre-conferences, etc. We set a 5-person registration minimum for A/V support this year, and found that all the pre-conferences met that limit (all 19 of them!) so it was not particularly useful.
  • Ask ahead of time to find out if pre-conf organizers are planning to open their pre-confs to non-conference attendees.


  • When talking to sales folks, get the REAL numbers on how many attendees will fit in a space (this means WITH A/V included, which could be 15% less or more than advertised capacities).

Organizing Volunteers

  • It's helpful to have a local representative on all volunteer committees to help grease the wheels.


  • Pay attention to the IPs you are assigned, make sure they are not PRIVATE (eg. 10,172.4-31,192.168)
  • Start the process to get the freenode limit raised a month before to plan for any kinks!