Greetings from the Chattanooga C4L17 Planning Committee:
This is a follow-up to Andrea Schurr’s May 18th email (https://goo.gl/bs2au7) regarding the survey around potential impact on attendance of the 2017 Code4Lib conference, given the host of discriminatory/concerning legislation in Tennessee.
Please see the summary of results below. We thank the individuals who took the time to respond and provide thoughtful answers as to the issues at hand, as well as suggest possible solutions. We met as a group last Tuesday to decide how to proceed. As many pointed out, they were not easy questions, and so predictably, there were no easy answers.
We’ve determined that given this community’s commitment to providing a safe and accommodating environment for all attendees, it is morally and fiscally irresponsible to continue the effort of hosting the annual conference in Chattanooga. This decision was not an easy one, and there were hours of discussion as to the pros and cons of proceeding, informed by your responses to the survey, as well as our individual opinions.
This decision is additionally informed by the inability to secure a fiscal host for the conference. Even prior to legislative concerns, multiple institutions in the southeast took a pass, given the size of attendance and increased risk of liability. The two viable leads we pursued finally confirmed as a “no” last week. Those decisions were in part or wholly informed by the financial risk assumed by a host having to contend with an unpredictable timeline of withdrawn support via geographical boycott.
Which leaves us with the voluminous question of, “Now what?” Threading together survey and committee responses, we put forth the following to the Code4Lib community:
1. There is a host site that has contacted the Chattanooga Planning Committee and informed us they are actively seeking a fiscal host and should shortly know the results of that endeavor. Given that no other city submitted a proposal, Chattanooga will pass along documentation and responsibility for next year’s conference if they are successful.
2. If this alternative site is unable to procure a fiscal host, then we suggest shifting the 2017 conference from in-person to virtual. We already have a potential fiscal host for this option, but we would open the implementation of such to the community. All of us agree that virtual cannot replace the feel and value of an in-person conference. However, given the mounting size of participation and the absence of a stable, consistent funding base, coupled with a socially conscious community, this year is a hard sell across many of the states.
3. For those interested and willing, simultaneously host in-person regional conferences alongside the main virtual conference. We realize, of course, that this leaves a vast majority of the southeast in a predicament, unless another region wishes to adopt us.
Know that this is not our preferred outcome, and that everyone on the planning committee wishes we could make this conference happen in Chattanooga. It is a grand little city with unexpected delights. We invite any and all questions, concerns, responses and conversation. Here, Slack, IRC, Twitter, Friendster, Myspace, and wherever else people seem to be lurking these days.
And with that, here is a summary of the survey results. Out of respect to those who answered under condition of anonymity, we are only sharing the raw numbers and not the freeform responses.
Q1: Given the current state of legislation in Tennessee, would you boycott Code4Lib 2017 in Chattanooga? 124 Responses:
22.58% Yes, I would boycott.
77.42% No, I would not boycott.
Q2: If Tennessee was considering a North Carolina type bathroom bill, would you boycott Code4Lib 2017 in Chattanooga? 124 Responses:
26.61% Yes, I would boycott.
73.38% No, I would not boycott.
Q3: If Tennessee passed a North Carolina type bathroom bill, would you boycott Code4Lib 2017 in Chattanooga? 123 Responses:
46.34% Yes, I would boycott.
53.66% No, I would not boycott.
Q4: If you indicated that you would consider boycotting the conference, would you reconsider if Code4Lib made a significant donation to an organization fighting against discrimination in Tennessee? 121 Responses:
34.71% Yes, I would consider attending.
19.83% No, I would still boycott.
45.45% N/A (I would not consider boycotting the conference.)
Q5: If your organization implemented a travel ban to Tennessee, would you consider attending Code4Lib 2017 in Chattanooga using your personal funds and on your personal time? 122 Responses:
26.23% Yes, I would consider using my personal time/funds to attend.
73.77% No, I would not consider using my personal time/funds to attend.
Director of Library IT & Professor
UTC Library, Dept. 6456
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Email: [log in to unmask]