Friday, July 18, 2008

Law Library and Legal Vendor Relationships

Over on Slaw today Simon Chester posted excerpts from an article on by Alvin Podboy called Legal Information Needs a Little Kedging. The subject of library and vendor relations is close to my heart, and I have worked on both TALL and CALL committees over time to help improve relations. I had not heard of the sailing term "kedging" before, but it seems to me quite appropos in this context--I encourage you to read the full article.

The post on Slaw got me a little worked up and I posted the following (too long!) comment:

[rant on]

I firmly believe law librarians and legal vendors should be working in partnership, to
understand one another and work to each other's mutual benefit.

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries' Vendor Liaison Committee and similar liaison committees in our local associations work closely with the vendors to build good relations. It is through these good relationships that we can address issues and work to the benefit of both.

Case in point is the CALL VLC subcommittee on loose leafs that explored--sometimes in pain-staking detail--issues surrounding loose leaf services. The result is the CALL- VLC code of good practices for loose-leaf publications. Both librarians and vendor representatives participated, were open and forth-coming during the process, and as a result we managed to reach a consensus.

I really hope that we build on the good work done by the association committees and abolish the unfortunate attitude some still hold that vendors are somehow the "evil empire". Without vendors and publishers helping in the creation and supply of our books and other information, we simply would not have libraries.

Librarians can work, on an individual or organizational level, with their vendor representatives to guide them towards products and services they would find most helpful. If they find something objectionable, they need to find diplomatic ways to explain their positions and help the vendor or publisher understand the concern. Having good day-to-day relationships with the vendor reps goes a long way in helping with this.

[rant off]

What do you think? How can we improve relations?

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