Library Core Services team at Code4Lib

Photo of three people at a conference

Chris, Laura and Alex having a laugh, about to be engulfed by giant plant in the Sheraton Raleigh lobby. Picture taken by Michael Doran, Systems Librarian, The University of Texas at Arlington.

Three members of Library Core Services Team, Laura Akerman, Alexander Cooper and Christopher Spalding, attended the Code4Lib “unconference” conference in Raleigh, N.C. March 24 – 28, and we would like to share a little of that experience with LITS. Alex and I were first-timers; Chris had been before.

Code4Lib describes itself as “a volunteer-driven collective of hackers, designers, architects, curators, catalogers, artists and instigators from around the world, who largely work for and with libraries, archives and museums on technology ‘stuff.’  Given this loose definition, I was impressed with the conference quality and organization. Programming was planned ahead of time using the group’s wiki site and member voting and more participants were admitted this year (although it was still a good idea to sign up the minute registration opened).

Therefore, the single-track conference room was crowded, but costs were very low compared to most professional conferences. Alex appreciated the time that some of the “Old Timers” took to enhance the conference by providing preconference workshops, such as Mark Redar’s “Obey the Testing Goat.” I also liked the welcoming atmosphere for newcomers and women (something the organization has worked to improve) and enjoyed meeting people at one of the “newcomer dinners.” This was Christopher’s fourth time attending the conference, where he noted “each year the meeting becomes more organized and well run.” Truly half the fun of the conference is chatting with people from other institutions and following the IRC back channel (a chatroom where the whole organization first began).

Photo of people sitting in a conference room

Roy Tennant interviewing Valerie Aurora, co-founder of the ADA Initiative, an organization that supports women’s participation in open-source development.

From an impassioned keynote speaker arguing for stronger focus on users and usability to several sessions focusing on users and use analytics, there was something for everyone! And yes, this is one conference where you will see slides of “code” (and xml, metadata, etc.)…if that’s your thing.

All in all, the folks from Core Services had a great time, were informed and inspired, and hope to be back with some cool stuff of our own to present next time!

Wish you could have been there? There was streaming video (of varying quality, but still… how many conferences stream the whole thing for free) which is now available. Check out the conference program ( and find your favorite topic on the conference’s YouTube channel.

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