How To Plan A Code4LibCon

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General Process

  • Apply to be a host; see also the page on Conference Hosting at
    • Identify venues for both the conference and the hotel (if different). Get some cost estimates from each. Make sure the hotel will give you a room block.
      • 2006/Corvallis: the campus provided the conference space at a low cost, and this made running the conference much more affordable.
      • 2016/Portland: we held everything in a single hotel and we had to acquire 2x the amount of sponsorship than what appears to be normal.
    • Prepare a sample / generalized budget
      • 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.
      • Get data from previous years to estimate minimums and maximums, and fill in as much as you can ahead of time.
      • 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: 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.
    • Consider using a conference planner
      • 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.
  • Get approved by the community
  • Find a hotel, negotiate and sign a contract with them. Sample RFI
  • Invite the community to join committees
  • Have a timeline
  • Useful information from 2012

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
  • 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.
  • 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

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


  • make sure VPN is allowed

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.

Aspiration Tech (an org doing unconference facilitation) has developed a great list for assessing and negotiating event wifi.


A record of Conference_Policies of all kinds!

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. Speaker gifts
  2. 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 (and possibly their phone)
  2. IRC Monitor for podium during speaker changes?


  • Consider different colored lanyards to articulate personal photography preferences.
    • Portland/2015 had color-coded lanyards:
      • Green = it's ok to take my picture
      • Yellow = please ask before taking my picture
      • Red = don't take my picture


  1. Water at the podium
  2. Provide height adjustable podium, if available. Otherwise:
  3. Provide an apple box for presenters who would like to use one.


  1. Videos are streamed at
  2. Presenters can opt out of having their likeness recorded and streamed. They may not opt out of having their voice and presentation (i.e. slides, etc.) recorded and streamed.
  3. Presenters must not use unlicensed music in their presentation. Likewise, unlicensed music must not be used between presentations.
  4. Video must be able to work with the house A/V crew and set up the day before the main con begins.
  5. Lighting must be provided for the speakers.

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

See details here:


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. Consider having this task as the host committee, the voting committee, or perhaps the whatever committee.

Year of proposal Text of call Call issued Deadline for submission Weeks to submit Voting start Voting end Weeks to vote Announcement
2010 Code4Lib 2011 Hosting Proposals Solicited 5 Feb 5 Mar 4 weeks
2011 Code4Lib 2012 Call for Host Proposals 10 Dec, 2010 23 Jan (Sun) 6 weeks + 3 days 25 Jan (Tue) 9 Feb (3rd day of conf) 2 weeks + 2 days 10 Feb (last day of conf)
2012 Code4Lib 2013 Call for Host Proposals 1 Dec, 2011 22 Jan (Sun) 7 weeks + 4 days 25 Jan (Wed) 8 Feb (3rd day of conf) 2 weeks + 1 day 9 Feb (last day of conf)
2013 15 April?
2014 Call for proposals to host Code4Lib Conference in 2015 29 Jan 12 Mar (Wed) 6 weeks + 1 day 14 Mar (Fri) 26 Mar 1 week + 6 days 27 Mar (Thursday; last day of conf)
2015 Call for proposals to host Code4Lib Conference in 2016 8 Jan 20 Feb (Fri) 6 weeks + 2 days 23 Feb (Mon) 6 Mar 1 week + 5 days 9 Mar (Mon)
2016 19 Jan (Tue) 1 Mar (Tue) 6 weeks 3 Mar (Thu) 15 Mar (Tue) 1 week + 5 days (note conf is Mar 7-10) 16 Mar (Fri)

Some Suggested Readings

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