How To Plan A Code4LibCon

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  • Apply to be a host
  • Consider your action plan
    • Identify your venues for both the conference and the hotel (if different). This is critical, as you'll want to get some cost estimates from each. When we hosted in Corvallis, the campus provided the conference space at a low cost, and this made running the conference much more affordable. When we hosted the conference in Portland, and held everything in a single hotel, we had to acquire 2x the amount of sponsorship than what appears to be normal.
    • Speaking of sponsorship, I believe we average around 20k per year in sponsorships to help run the conference and keep the registration low. Factor this into your budget.
    • Also, when you get cost estimates, don't forget to include food costs.
    • WIRELESS: Always an issue it seems. If you are proposing to host the conference on a campus, check with your IT folks about any additional costs. If you are looking at a hotel or other venue, make sure you talk to them about bandwidth and costs. IMHO, the two things that really need to be addressed each year are connectivity and food - everything else generally manages itself in terms of facilities.
      • make sure VPN is allowed
    • See if your institution has a conference planning services group or something similar - if it does, then I highly recommend using them. They'll handle registration, budgeting, contracts, etc, and really make life easy.
    • Also consider using conference planning services from other entities. In 2013, Chicago used DLF services to handle registration. In 2014, NC used CONCENTRA services for all contract negotiation, fiscal activities, registration, and other conference planning and management services.
    • Regarding conference hotel, you'll want to make sure that there are blocks of rooms available - not usually too bad an issue in larger towns, but in some college or smaller towns, hotel rooms may be limited.
      • prepare the hotel for deluge via web when announcement is made about hotel registration available. We overwhelmed the Seattle hotel in 2012
    • Remember, your institution is taking the risk of covering any costs not covered by registrations and sponsorships. To this point, I believe the conference has always ended up in the black, but there is always a chance it won't in a given year. Drafting a rough budget before submitting a proposal is critical.

Important Public Resources

Important Private Resources

  • Code4LibCon-hostsite listserv
  • Budgets from previous years
  • Sponsorship info (private)

Gender Diversity & Minority Scholarship Committee

The scholarship committee is a self-selected group that manages the gender diversity & minority scholarships. Separate groups handle AngelFund and Code4LibJapan scholarships.

Suggestions received

  • Send to a wider bunch of listservs, including for national orgs (ALA/SLA/MLA/CLA) & relevant sections? & student chapter


  1. Put out a call
  2. Receive and coordinate applications
  3. Distribute applications to the committee
  4. Select awardees
  5. Inform selected candidates
  6. Notify unsuccessful candidates
  7. Announce to Code4Lib main listserv and post on (e.g. )
  8. Hosts work with awardees on reimbursement, registration, etc.
  9. Follow up with awardees after the conference -- receive report, ask for suggestions, etc.

Program Committtee

The program committee is a self-selected group that manages talk proposals and other aspects of the program. The process works something like this:

  1. Draft the call for proposals (searching the mailing list archives should provide some good templates) and send it out.
  2. People put their proposals on the Code4Lib wiki (see the 2013 talks proposals page as a template)
    • One idea that's been thrown around to help diversity is for people to self-identify as female/minority/first-timer/first-time presenter, etc. (see the Guidelines below)
  3. After the proposal period ends, contact Ross Singer (rsinger) to get voting set up.
  4. After the voting closes, we talk about where to place the dividing line between accepted and declined proposals. There is a bit of negotiation between us and the host committee on scheduling depending on how many talks we want to accept and any scheduling juggling that is required.

Program Voting

Pre-conf voting may need to take place if there are more proposals than spaces.

Based on past discussions (such as the pandering votes thread), for next year, consider a notification for voters 'briefly explaining how the ballot works and to reiterate the voting criteria that's on the proposal page.

There has also been discussions about whether voting should be done without names, but it was inconclusive as there are pros and cons to each.

If possible, it has been suggested that talks be grouped by topic so there is more consideration by people on giving too many votes to a single topic.


For 2014, you may want to make this a bit more clear on the talk proposals page, but this is what the community agreed on through mailing list discussion:

  • Max 2 presenters per talk (this should be checked at the proposal stage)
  • Max 1 talk per person
  • (at least) 15% talks to be decided by the program committee with "diversity" in mind. Diversity may be any of these (not an exhaustive list):
    • first-time presenter (should be major consideration)
    • gender
    • visible minority
    • technology/tool

Based on Proposed Changes thread.

Based on the comments from the 2013 feedback, the program committee may also consider proposing limiting the number of talks on a particular topic or technology used (e.g. Hydra, Solr) unless the next conference host proposes to turn the conference into a multi-track conference.


While always posted on the website, consider putting it on lanyrd like in 2013. Worked great of adding links to sessions, which can then be copied to the website if needed.

Keynoter logistics

See Keynote Committee Duties.

Talk Acceptance Letter (samples)

Dear <<first name last name>>,
On behalf of the Code4Lib Program Planning Committee, I am pleased to 
notify you that your proposal, <<proposal title>> has been accepted for 
the Code4Lib <<year>> in <<location>>.  Please reply to this message to 
confirm your intention to present the approved session at the Conference.  
If at any time in the future you need to bow out or have any program 
changes, please notify us immediately.  You will be sent a letter of 
agreement soon.
The schedule for the conference is here:

You will have 20 minutes for your talk, including questions and answers.
A quick transition between speakers will be necessary.
It is very important that you focus your presentation on the more unique 
and technical aspects of your topic whenever possible.  Although Code4Lib
attendees come from many different work environments, they attend Code4Lib 
events for information technology education.
Experts like you are the heart of Code4Lib.  We really appreciate your contribution 
and look forward to working with you.

Talk Rejection Letter (sample)

I'm sorry, but your prepared talk proposal for the 2010 Code4Lib Conference in Asheville, NC did not receive enough votes to make it into the program. But here are a couple things you should know:

- The field of presentations was very large (probably the largest we have had so far) and very strong, so you should not take it too hard.
- Please remember that there are many additional opportunities for participating, including lightning talks (open to anyone), breakout sessions (open to anyone to suggest and/or participate), and a special "Ask Anything" (or reply anything) open session. Also, the evening socializing opportunities are considered some of the most rewarding times of the event.

Again, my condolences on not having your talk proposal accepted, but I hope we still see you in Asheville, NC in February.

Sponsorship Committee

Sample Sponsorship Request Letter

As you know, Code4Lib is a group of library technologists, programmers, system administrators, web designers, and librarians. Started in 2003, the group continues to grow--with a journal, a mailing list, and an active IRC channel. Since 2005, Code4Lib has sponsored an annual conference, which has attracted programmers and librarians from around the world.

Topics at past conferences have included library information systems, new directions in library research, semantic web applications, and information technology standards, among many others. More details about the conference, including schedules of previous conferences, can be found from

Our <> conference will be held in <> from <>. Be a part of this library success story by underwriting the conference!

We have several sponsorship levels:

<> I look forward to hearing from you, and can be reached at <>.



Book Giveaway Committee

Responsible for contacting publishers to see if they will donate books to the conference so we can raffle them off. Take a look at BookRaffle for ideas.

Please coordinate with Program committee as to when book raffle is to happen during the conference (as in part it depends on how many things there are to give away).

Will also need to coordinate with sponsorship/host committee about adding logos and what not to the sponsorship list if necessary.

T-shirt Committee

Responsible for organizing the call, vote, print, etc. for conference t-shirts. Need to coordinate with sponsorship committee for what goes on the back of the shirt.

Example: 2013 t-shirt design proposals

Propose to add additional restrictions:

  • should not be a designed used previously (do we have an archive of previous designs somewhere?)
  • unique (cannot be bought online already)
  • design should include "code4lib" and conference year in design, city optional



You will likely have to convince the conference hotel of the conference size and past room uptake as part of negotiating your contract. They may want to contact past conference hotels to get more info about actual uptake.

  • 2014 -- Raleigh Downtown Sheraton

Shortly before the Conference


  1. Contact speakers in advance to get a speaker bio, plus to ask if they need anything, arrange airport pickup, etc

Emails to send out

Quick orientation email for newer folks

Send out at least a week in advance before conference...

We're in the last few days before the conference begins, and for a good number of you, 
this will be your first code4lib. Here is some information to help you navigate through 
the conference craziness next week:

- Social Activities<insert link to SA page>: There's a lot going on outside of the sessions, 
and this page has information about various gatherings, events, meals, etc. One activity I 
want to highlight is the Newcomer dinner<insert link to SA page> that will be on 
<insert date of dinner>. There are still a lot of great restaurants left on the list, and this 
is your chance to meet folks you might otherwise not get a chance to talk to at the conference. 
Read the guidelines on the wiki, and pick your restaurant.

(Public service announcement: for those of you who have signed up for the dinner already, make 
sure that there's a designated leader for organizing reservations and people herding.)

- Hospitality Suite: For some of the events listed on the Social Activities page, you will see 
the Hospitality Suite listed as a location. This is a place where attendees usually hang out outside 
of sessions (or taking a break from sessions). The location of the Suite is usually announced 
through various means, including the wiki, IRC and Twitter.

- IRC/Twitter/etc.: Speaking of those channels, you'll find many folks using the #c4lXX hashtag 
for conference related stuff. The IRC channel<insert link to IRC page> is #code4lib, and there 
will be volunteers at the conference who would be more than happy to help you with IRC.

- For my last item, give the following a read:<insert links to appropriate pages>

-- How to hack code4lib
-- CodeofConduct4lib
-- Zoia, #code4lib's IRC bot

If you have a question, ask! I'll be bringing in some badge ribbons for everyone to self-identify 
themselves as first timers and "old timers" as well, if you're into classification and stuff. ;-)

Freenode IRC connection

Historically, conference attendees have had trouble maintaining persistent connections to the #code4lib IRC channel. We'd always assumed we were overwhelming the conference facility's Internet connection, but we were actually running into Freenode's IP-based connection limits. Freenode is supportive of the IRC-as-backchannel model, however, and they're happy to work with organizers to raise the connection limit.

Contact the conference facility in advance and see if you can find out what your public IP address range will be during the conference. (If it starts with 10.*, 192.168.*, or 172.16.*, ask again -- those are "private" IP ranges used for connection sharing.)

Once you have the IP address or range, send an email to containing a request to raise the connection limit. Include conference info, IP range(s), and the expected number of connections. For example:



I'm helping plan the code4lib 2010 conference, taking place in Asheville, NC next week. 
Since our backchannel runs through #code4lib on Freenode, we're trying to plan ahead 
to avoid running up against the connection limit. Would it be possible to raise the cap 
for us during the conference? Details follow.

Conference: code4lib 2010 < >
Dates: February 22-26, 2010
Attendees: 250
Location: Renaissance Asheville Hotel, Asheville, NC
IP Ranges: and the entire block

We encourage in-channel participation, so we expect a high percentage of attendees to 
be connected at once. We'll also have two or three channel bots connected from the 
conference for the lobby monitors.

Please let me know if you need any further information, and thanks very much for 
your help!


I received an automated reply with a ticket number almost instantly, but didn't hear back after that. I sent a quick followup early on the morning of the 22nd, and received a response (from a human) letting me know that it had been taken care of. (Follow-up, one year later: Same experience. Immediate automated reply, but with a need to follow up with Freenode staff in the #freenode channel to get the ticket resolved.)

Additional support is available from the helpful volunteer Freenode staff in the #freenode channel.

At the Conference


  1. Water at the podium
  2. Speaker gifts
  3. Dinner plans


Lightning Talks


  1. make sure projector avail for each session
  2. whiteboards or reasonable facsimile thereof
  3. everyone wants a power outlet


  1. power - everyone would like to plug in their laptop
  2. IRC Monitor for podium during speaker changes?


  • Consider different colored lanyards to articulate personal photography preferences.


  1. live stream is awesome
  2.  ??
  3. YouTube Live,

Live Blogging

Consider doing live blogging for 2014. You will have two people so they can switch off during each section of day.

Ask Anything

Book Raffle


Flipcharts can be useful, but it's important to decide what to put on the wiki/website and what to put on a flipchart: images:

Hospitality Suite

  1. having a few people with room keys, any of whom might need to be available to open up or close down the room at the beginning or end of the evening
  2. making sure the mess left for cleaning staff is an appropriate mess
  3. making sure the noise made near other hotel guests is an appropriate noise
  4. having someone act as a point person to gather a gratuity for the housekeeping staff maintaining the suite

Suggested Timeline

  • See C4L2010planning for an example
  • See Code4Lib 2014 planning schedule planning schedule] for example, including dates for responsibilities for each volunteer committee. Note that we established schedule at the outset by counting weeks backwards from the desired conference dates.
  • Ideal to have program set before registration, including pre-conf
    • also allows clarity for how many spots are avail for non-presenters

Calls for Hosting

No one has claimed responsibility for putting out the call and setting the deadline, so for 2014 planning, consider having this task as the host committee, the voting committee, or perhaps the whatever committee.

  • 2008:
  • 2009:
  • 2010:
  • 2011: March 5, 2010
  • 2012:
  • 2013: Jan 22, 2012
  • 2014: January 27, 2013
  • 2015: January 29, 2014
  • 2016:

Some Suggested Readings

How To Organize a Conference - Some excellent thoughts on conferences in general.