How To Plan A Code4LibCon

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General Timeline

  • 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)

Committee List



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

TODO: put actual room uptake numbers in a chart here. (NB totals are only useful in the context of how many attendees there were.)


TODO: put actual concurrent connections and bandwidth usage data numbers in a chart here. Note when problems were occurring to give context on whether these numbers were sufficient of insufficient.

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

Email Boilerplates / templates

  • Quick orientation email for newer folks - Send out at least a week in advance before conference...
  • 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 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.