Improving communication and relationships b/w librarians & publishers #erl13

Elizabeth Winter (ER&L and Georgia Institute of Technology) hosted a Q&A with Dan Tonkery (Content Strategies) that focused on the relations between publishers and libraries with the goal of finding some common understandings that may improve communication.

Tonkery, in his 43rd year as a librarian, started with a survey of the room and finding more than half of the participants were under 43 years old. Early days stories help set the stage for a discussion of the roles of publisher and libraries and how these have both dramatically evolved and yet also remained largely the same. The questions (submitted in advance) were addressed by Tonkery from the perspective of both roles and were followed by Tonkery’s tips for both groups.

Why must I ask for an invoice at each renewal?
Most publisher use fullfilment centers, there is no system to track and generate this information cyclically. Even the major publisher do not have this technology in their systems. This was a complex undertaking in the print world, and in transition to e, those who had mastered the print worflow did not invest in e.

Why don’t publishers understand the importance of the entitlement list? Publishers don’t know what an entitlement list is. This is a library term. But again this has to do with publishers reliance on fullfillment center and hosting systems. The data or system with that would produce that data is not readily available on the publishers’ end. Publishers may know what you have access to (perhaps just as well as you do), but it is not in any report-generated form.

Why don’t publishers comply more readily with standards?
Because standards are library community generated, the zeal does reside in the publishing community (unless you are Bob Boissey). Most publishers do not produce the information that is sought to be standardized (it is outsourced to others). The reason COUNTER may be more widely adopted is likely tied to interest in pricing algorithms. But in truth, publishers are using their own data and spreadsheets for analysis.

How do publishers determine who to contact in the library? Why do libraries make it so hard? Why do publishers make it hard?
A good sales person will keep their own personal record of best contacts, and likely do not share this with their organization as a whole. It’s a hit or miss, trial and error process by publishers that boils down to revenue — thus, you have as many people as possible for working to gain the lion’s share of your budget. As long as the money is coming in, publishers are willing to deal with the ambiguity and confusion.

I’ve been contemplating (but no time to ask in this session) whether an organizational structure that distributes e-resource management across staff like an ad agency does — by account — would align better for communicating and managing inforamtion from publishers? If that was even true, would it remain feasible for internal library communication?

How does pricing determined and why are publishers more transparent in their pricing. They start with surplus projection based on last year, followed by goal setting for higher revenues in the coming year, then they use usage data to back into a scenario that determines what it will take in price increases to accomplish this.

How can we motivate publisher to keep track of perpetual access?
Again, this is a concept that libraries came up with, not publishers, who likely prefer to outsource this process. Very few publishers actually know the entitlement or rights data. Usually they know only a standard current holdings set or backfile, it is not common to have their systems manage a variety of holdings rights.

KEY TAKEAWAY discussed at this point — Library are record keepers, publishers are sales machines. What do you think?

What is preventing publishers from adopting key clauses needed by libraries?
Mixed messages from some libraries that sign and those that don’t based on certain clauses. Keep in mind this is not the responsibiltiy of the sales person to negotiate. (SEE TIPS) Recommend the notion that the queaky wheel always gets the grease. Or, just make your changes, sign it and send it in — more than half the time it will go through without notice.

How is decision making conducted in libraries?
Most libraries would like to know this as well. Becasue it is a collective decision, it is not straightforward or quick. The director is rarely invovled, nor is the digital or e-resources person, even though this is one of your key contact for the execution of the sale.

TIPS by Tonkery
Publishers should monitor listservs and librarians should do more proactive claiming directly to publishers.

Everything is negotiable.
Price. Terms. Everything.

Take emotion out of the process. It’s a business.

Take back your purchasing power.

Don’t be afraid to modify or add to contracts and reamin mindful of your purchasing power in negotiation as well.
Who owns your usage data? Publishers think they do.

Learn to go beyond the level of your sales rep for what you need.

Don’t be afraid to use group pressure.
Library consortia, lists, petitions, social media, but remain professional.

Yet, don’t assume consortia are getting the best deal for your library
Especially in negotiation. If you are not gettign something out of your consortia, try direct with same deal.

Libraries need a key-contact list on their websites.
Include office hours.

Additional Q&A from the floor

Observation by Jill Emery (Portland State) that Elsevier boycott was unsuccessful given revenue up 40% and submission rate up 12% But, says Tonkery, image effect was successful at getting Elsevier to pay attention. Don’t recommend this approach necessarily.

Can we improve communication by simplifying our roles — libraries as record keepers, publishers as sales? This remains to be seen.

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