February 15, 2011
News Flash: AALL Officially Announces When the Vendor Colloquium Will Take Place
Yup, in about two weeks from now. The Vendor Colloquium is set to take place on February 28 - March 1, 2011 at the "Lodge in Oak Brook." Being a born and bred Chicagoan, I think our association is referring to the following location:
Enter this once-private retreat to experience an Oak Brook hotel unlike any other. The Hyatt Lodge at McDonald’s Campus offers exemplary amenities in an unparalleled setting. Featuring the renowned event venues of Hamburger University, acres of lush forestry filled with an outdoor team challenge adventure course and extensive choices for fun, our Oak Brook IL hotel is ideal for VIP meetings, team-building exercises, weekend conferences, or simply as an intriguing escape from your average getaway.
Who's picking up this tab? Will the attendees receive an AALL bag full of team-building goodies? I'm thinking yoga mats printed with the AALL logo... .
According to the recently posted agenda, the Law Librarian of Congress, Roberta Schaffer will be the keynote speaker and Maureen Sullivan, an "organizational development consultant" will serve as "facilitator." Don't know about you but this is sounding very much like "retreat." Also, don't know about you but the last time I was required to participate one of those "retreats," day two was cancelled because the "facilitator" simply couldn't "take it." In this case, I'm sure she is well paid to stay the course, to not turn into a hamburger patty.
Some 40 folks will be in attendance. According to my very quick back-of-the envelope calculations the headcount is:
Library Institutional Representatives: 12
- 4 Public Sector (2 county, 1 state and 1 federal court library but no federal or state agencies)
- 4 Private Sector (Law firms but no corporate legal department librarians)
- 4 Academic Law Library Sector (3 public law schools and 1 private law school)
Vendor Representatives: 16
- BNA: 3
- Hein: 3
- LexisNexis: 3
- Thomson Reuters: 4
- Wolter Kluwers: 3
Stakeholder Representatives: 5
Stakeholders being representatives, one each, from the Association of Legal Administrators, CALI, Cornell LII, Supreme Court of Ohio, and Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Actually a VP of Thomson Reuters is listed as a "stakeholder" for the Legal Marketing Association but I have counted him as a TR representative. Call me cynical.
AALL Officials and Employees: 5
The usual cast of characters including our president, vice-president, vice-president-elect, executive director and official compensated vendor liasion.
Of course, some of the selected library institutional representatives once served in official AALL capacities but let's not hold that against them because some are actually fed up with the current state of affairs. There are several institutional representatives, "stakeholders" and vendor representatives (but not all) who may discuss matters about the current state on the provision of commercial and open source legal resources in an open and frank manner but this cast of characters has a couple of noteworthy omissions.
Where are the innovators? Those folks who are in the midst of transforming legal information services and products like eTrade transformed financial services. In particular, I thinking about Fastcase's CEO Ed Walters and AALL's unofficial persona non grata stakeholder Carl Malamud of Law.Gov. I'm also wondering why no corporate legal departments are represented? Why no federal or state agencies, too.
I'm also thinking that instead of hiring a professional facilitator, wouldn't it have been better to hire an indusry analyst like Outsell's David Curle to serve as moderator? Wouldn't someone with a well-informed perspective on the state of the professional legal services vendor industry better serve this event than someone whose expertise is, well, "how do you feel about that?" If our association is going to spend money, let's invest it wisely.
But, perhaps, most importantly, why is this a behind-closed-doors meeting. It's the 21st century but there is no mention that this event will be webcast live or even archived for later viewing. Our association knows about this Internet thing, right? Who is afraid of real-time tweeting as the event proceeds. I serious doubt it is the vendors, at least not the ones who will be explaining the 21st century new normal. The event "should be interesting" but we who represent our institutions by membership in AALL who will not be in attendance will never know. Perhaps some will tweet the proceedings.
At best, I expect we will read a summary of the proceedings, one that is sufficiently uninformative to allow us to form our own conclusion. Of course, this event could have been held at Philly 2011 for all to attend but our association is trying to address issues in a timely matter. Ah well, the worst recession since the 1930s started in late 2007 and we have been dealing with the budgetary consequences since at least 2009. What's a year or two or three for our association to deal with this.
Chicago's O'Hare or Midway Airport. And after this meeting, it's back to Chicago for the Spring 2011 Executive Board meeting from March 24, 2011 to March 26, 2011 at the Union League Club in Chicago. No yoga mats for that one. [JH]
For the record, AALL announced the Vendor Colloquium in July 2010 (see below)
AALL E-newsletter - July 2010Jump to AALL to Hold Colloquium of Law Librarians and Legal Publishers: AALL has not held a colloquium since 2001, ... and vendor representatives.
www.aallnet.org/press/e-newsletter-201007.asp - Cached
It has not been a big secret, as JH seems to imply. If people don't know about it, it's because they haven't been paying attention.
Maybe some yoga will be done, but it's not on the agenda. http://www.aallnet.org/vendorrelations/VendorColloquiumAgenda.pdf
Ah Chris -- Most know the event was going to happen but not the date until it was recently announced. Hence the word "when" in the title. Even the event's the budgeted cost for it. Just use LLB's search engine for past posts. -- Joe
Posted by: Chris Graesser | Feb 18, 2011 1:09:42 PM
Just an update to my post. CRIV will be represented at the colloquium by Shaun Esposito and Mary Jenkins. I overlooked them on the list. So glad they are able to attend and participate! Apologies for my oversight.
Posted by: Tracy Thompson-Przylucki | Feb 15, 2011 12:27:29 PM
Thanks for the frank-as-always post. You raise a number of valid points, but I also think we should support the intention while pushing for more transparency. I don't see that AALL has ruled out webcasting or recording these sessions so I'll give them the benefit of the doubt there and encourage them to consider it. As far as the location, I don't object to AALL using funds to support this kind of effort so long as it produces results. When I served as Chair of CRIV (NB: conspicuously absent from the participants list is CRIV Chair Rob Myers) I heard murmurs of discontent among the membership about CRIV's site visits; claims that these were boondoggles. I took those concerns to heart and developed guidelines for the site visits so that both AALL and the vendor host shared the costs associated with these site visits, rather than the vendors bearing the entire cost, as had been past-practice. After all, we both have a stake in the efforts and the outcomes, so we should share the costs. I think these efforts at building more robust relationships with information vendors are just what we should be doing, and viewing them as boondoggles is short-sighted. I hope to see more CRIV site visits in the future.
Trying to envision how the right balance might have been struck between productivity and inclusivity for this colloquium is tough. I think AALL bringing people to the table is a step in the right direction. I hope this is not a 'retreat,' as you suspect, but an agressive 'advance.' I hope they roll up their sleeves and put it all on the table. However, I also think we (the members) have to put up or shut up when it comes to vendor relations. Each year at AALL Annual Meeting there is the opportunity to participate in a vendor roundtable. The few years that I was involved in the planning of this session the overwhelming majority of attendees were the vendors. It was embarrassing. AALL asked for our input to set the agenda for this meeting. I'd be curious to know what kind of response they got from the members. If we have valid concerns and issues to raise, and we want to change the dynamics of the vendor/AALL/library relationships, we have to show up AND be willing to squirm a little. It's not always easy or comfortable conversation to have. Thanks for raising some uncomfortable issues.
-- Hi Tracy, When institutional members have to tighten their belts, when law librarians have joined the ranks of the unemployed, I believe our association should use every possible measure to expend monies wisely. Case in point, this meeting, which at this late date in the recession, could have been conducted in Philly this summer at nominal cost -- what difference does a couple of months make? Absolutely none. It also would have been a way to introduce transparency by allowing all interested members attending Philly to be in the room and to be able to pose questions at the end of each session. -- Joe
Posted by: Tracy Thompson-Przylucki | Feb 15, 2011 8:10:56 AM
I'm somewhat offended by your description of me as a "AALL's unofficial persona non grata stakeholder Carl Malamud." I have no indication that this is the case and I've said repeatedly that I'm always happy to work with the AALL. We had 5 past presidents of AALL participate in the Law.Gov workshops.
If AALL wants to make me a persona non grata, they will no doubt do so, but it is not up to you to label me or others that way. Pick your own fights.
-- Carl, I said "unofficial." God knows I don't speak for AALL. In fact, my hunch is the only reason why I am a member in "good standing" is that my membership dues checks don't bounce. Law.gov is a social movement that can be as transformative as John West's national reporter system was in the late 19th century. You certainly are one of the leaders of this movement but it is not just your fight. Still, I always appreciate frank comments. -- Joe
Posted by: Carl Malamud | Feb 15, 2011 7:57:42 AM
Wow. I agree with a lot of what you just said. Yeah, I'm sort of worried too. :)
I hope there will be some webcast/tweeting of this meeting and it was just an oversight to not mention it. If not, I'm sure the reasoning is "well, we want people to be comfortable to speak their minds." However, just looking at the agenda, it looks like this is going to mainly prepared statements...what's the harm in showing that?
And don't let anyone say it's too expensive to webcast it...they can do it for practically free via USTREAM with a $50 webcam.
As for the people notable by their absence on the attendee list, you never know if they had prior commitments or something else preventing them from attending. I agree that they would have made interesting contributions to the proceedings, especially David Curle. He spoke at the law.gov meeting I attended and was fascinating.
Posted by: Sarah G. | Feb 15, 2011 7:09:33 AM
This has all the makings of a whitewash.
Posted by: Gail Daly | Feb 15, 2011 6:58:54 AM
On the qualifications of the moderator: Maureen Sullivan is an outstanding library and organizational consultant. My own experience with her was at the AALL management institute in 2009. She is in high demand, having led strategic planning efforts at several institutions. I believe she is the perfect choice to lead this group to some productive work. And as to innovators, perhaps there could be more including the ones you name, though we don't know whether they were invited and couldn't do it. But Tom Bruce of LII and John Mayer of CALI are both innovators in the truest sense.
Posted by: Ken Hirsh | Feb 15, 2011 5:28:47 AM