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August 13, 2010
"It's Good to be Tom Glocer"
Just about no one at TR Legal I"ve talked with face to face, on the phone or by email has not said at least once, "It's good to be Tom." This borders on mantra status but, you know what, I agree. It must good to be the CEO of a publishing empire. Here's why. Recently on what remains the only "TRI" web destination worth taking the RSS feed even though it is clearly indicated as being personal and rarely discusses business, Tom posted on his blog that he is on vacation.
I'm no Luddite, but the best way I can relax and also give my family my full attention is not to be reaching for my array of vibrating devices every 30 seconds.
Damn right and good for you, Tom. He adds
As a wise Frenchman once said, "the cemeteries are full of men who once thought themselves indispensable." I hope you all enjoy a good break.
In case you think I'm on a first name basis with the CEO of TRI, I am not so I'm taking no small amount of license here. But, what the heck because (1) it's just the blogosphere and (2) more times than not it takes an indispensable library staff to conduct business with TR Legal.
Yes, "It's Good to be Tom." I haven't had a real vacation in almost two years. At 57, I am way too damn old to be behaving like I was in my 30s when I didn't take a vacation for over five years at a time as a BigLaw firm librarian. During one particularly busy, billable hours, period, when hours could be billed, I didn't take a day off for about six months except for July 4th and Labor Day. Not complaining. I was much younger then and enjoyed the challenges of practicing my profession to "infinity and beyond" in a BigLaw firm. Nothing compares if you have the "killer instinct" and are prepared to test your professional expertise in this enviroment. Of course, you may end up with hypothyroidism like I have. But there's meds for that and they result in substantial weight loss, particularly for former circa-1980s "A-Types" like me.
Circa 2010 with little PTO for way too long, I'm toast after executing the following random illustrations and have been toast for several months. Do note, I'm not alone because I work with one hard-charging crew -- three FTE library staffers colleagues who have been putting in just as much effort, if not more, to help me take care of business while earning subtantially less each pay period than I do. The old school work ethic is alive and well in our little county llaw lbrrary The measure of job performance is and has always been in my opinoin exhaustion regardless of whether you are a so-called "professional librarian" or not. When we all go home at the end of the day tired, we have done your job. If you don't, you are wasting space. Make room for someone who will by getting out of the way. Your supervisor will be delighted to accept your resignation.
Then there is my my long-suffering wife known to regular readers of LLB as "the blog widow." Plus lately I've been stealing a chapter from my late father's playbook who burned take-it-or-lose-it PTO by escaping a couple of hours early when he could. Well, he died at age 64 and that's only seven years from now for me. Tom is dead on. The "cemeteries are full" but then he does not have to conduct business with TR Legal day in and day out, now does he.
On Being Behind. No doubt Tom has dragged his butt home to his family and dog many if not most evenings despite the TR Legal mantra. Perhaps, if the entire law library workforce (and, well, our association's executive board) did the same, we would only be one step behind TR Legal instead of 2-3-4-etc. It takes the entire law library community to keep up with some of the smartest people in the room.
What have we in our little county law library been up to lately? Just a sample. No particular priority because law librarians will know what that is priority is even if some folks in the land of 10,000 invoices don't give a damn. They certainly aren't clueless.
- "Shedding West" in our little county law library by way of sending 100,000 pounds of print to the recycle center after evaluating our 40,000-plus print volume collection in a three month time frame and updating our catalog and serials records to reflect the Shed West Era in execution;
- Commencing negotiations for a Westlaw license renewal which may or may not happen because our sales rep and his district manager are up against the wall known as boilerplate language and corporate policy, even in this current economy;
- Identifying my kill list for print titles in my Westlaw PrintPack I couldn't cancel until the end of the license (coming up soon);
- Considering whether TR Legal's West Complete program for print is advantageous to my little county law library -- its does has some pluses vis-a-vis the straight jacket that is offered by LMA's but it most definitely isn't as good as the so-caled "50% discount" offered in WestPack. Alas, we are not inclined in this economy to entered into multi-year commitments for Westlaw or Westlaw with WestPack unless we have something called "flexibility." Lexis understands the word "optional" and offers a 50% discount for online access to print subs per SOP. No negtiations required. TR Legal? Well, the Company understood cancellation at convenience of licensee in state-wide contracts.
- Watching out for the next opt-out TR Legal Columbia House Legal Book Club postcard. Well, not really. If I miss a postcard I'm thinking maybe our little county law library will neither ship it back or pay for it. Want a test case ... all future agreements with TR Legal may have to require Ohio as the jurisdiction just like State of Ohio contracts with TR Legal do.
- Responding to a voice mail message yesterday from" Namelsss" in TR Legal's Accounts Receivable that rattled off more numerals, phone number, account number, and two late as in not-paid invoices identifiers than speaking in alpha characters --- you know, English as in words! Do you know how many times I had to repeat the voice mail message to write down the phone number and account info --- I simply gave up on writing down the invoices. OK, so I am an aging and decrepit law librarian with almost no short term memory lelt but hasn't TR Legals's Accounts Receivables hear of something called email or is TR Legal so desperate for $$, Accounts Receivables has been instructed to dial the phone If we owe TR Legal, I have absolutely no problem paying the Company money owed if we messed up, and doing so ASAP but for god's sake put it in writing so we can check into it. Next time, I think I'm going to vaporize the voice mail message and wait for a "Second Notice mailing if the Copmany is still doing that. Since our County Auditor refuses to pay any late fees whatsoever, the folks in the land of 10,000 invoices will have to live with that or I'll cancel the title.
And this is just TR Legal business! Forget about recent and on-going transactions with other major vendors.
Today's To Do List. What the heck, come December I will be shedding WestPack-tiles West's Bankruptcy Service Lawyers Edition and Norton's on Bankruptcy --- invoice paying law librarians know how much both titles' upkeep costs are -- because Matthew Bender's Collier's in the title to have if only one comprehensive service is needed (that would be us). But I will be ordering a multi-volume practitioner-oriented West bankruptcy "loose-leaf" title today -- talk about something that rarely happens! Why? Because (1) I can get about a 30% discount off list price right now; (2) it's last annual update was in June so our library will get the next annual update at no cost with the purchase, meaning, of course, (3) I won't have to cancel it until this time next year. As most law librarians are well aware, the devil is in the details when it comes to transacting business with TR Legal.
Enjoy your vacation with your family, Tom. There is no doubt in my mind you deserve it. Upon your return, my offer to share a pitcher of beer still stands. I'll even pick up the tab for the first pitcher. After that, it's on you because I've heard that "it is good to be Tom." I am sure your success is well deserved while I earn in my current gig less than I made as a BigLaw librarian in 1987. But I've only got a 5-7 minute compute to work depending on traffic and every minute counts at my age. You, too?
A Word of Caution About Some TR Legal "Loose-leaf "Services While Tom is on Vacation. Hello law library directors, tech services heads and everyone else who does not file West "loose-leaf" services. Have you noticed that TR Legal's "brand" of many of these apparent loose-leaf services aren't what most law librarians think of when they think "regularly updated, interfiled loose-leaf services." It is becoming increasingly prevalent in titles West acquired over the years. This ain't your CCH looseleaf, the company that created this publishing format and set the standard for it. Yes, this is want happens when a law library director has to leave his office to go into the stacks because a publisher unrelentingly continues pricing itself out of the the print market.
For many West "looseleaf" servicies upkeep, you may receive pages with instructions to insert at the beginning of the binder a bunch of pages that is oh so reminiscent of pocket-parts and a couple of replacement chapters each year. In order words, no interfiled updating of content across the entire publication. Of course, this saves cost to TR Legal and library filers love this but it creates the wrong impression for patrons who think these services follow the CCH paradigm. It's essentially a production process that looks like a looseleaf service but is basically a pocket-part one in disguise.
When I see this on a title-by-tile basis, and compare it to the editorial content, usage, cost and interfiling frequency of other major publishers, be they Matthew Bender, BNA or CCH, TR Legal usually gets tossed into my kill list and sometimes gets replaced withj another vendor's loose-leaf tile. I tend not to inform my colleagues immediately because of their less than delighted reaction to TR Legal's "this is easy if not all that current" filing approach but patrons come first. Atttorneys are taught to "never assume" but they haven't been routinely instructed that this maxim applies to this publishing format, For patron purposes, perhaps the binders needs to be labeled "this ain't what you think it is." [JH]