December 5, 2011
Soliciting Professional Intelligence for Addressing Our Legal Relationship with Vendor Business Practices and Their Licensed Content
The Vendor Colloquium resulted in two documents, A Statement of Shared Principles and an Action Plan. Follow-up work has commenced. The October 2011 issue of AALL's eNewsletter included an announcement that our President has
recently established two task forces to begin implementing two of the recommendations contained in the Vendor Colloquium action plan. The Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers Revisions Task Force will be chaired by Kay Todd, and the Library Procurement Process Improvement Task Force will be co-chaired by Katherine Lowry and Tracy Thompson Przylucki.
In the inaugural Vendor Liaison Update eNewsletter (Oct. 2011; published on Oct. 12, 2011), AALL's Vendor Liaison added:
While all of the [Action Plan] goals will be addressed in time, the board identified two areas of new project work for immediate implementation. AALL President Darcy Kirk recently completed the appointment of two task forces to begin this work.
The AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers Revisions Task Force, chaired by Kay Todd, stems from Action Plan Goal I-A, Reinforce our Commitment to the Fair Business Practices Guide. The task force will review the 2008 edition of the guide in light of the rapidly changing legal publishing environment, with an eye toward updating the principles and adding language to address the electronic publication and delivery of information. The task force began its work this month, and the project timeline calls for a final report to be submitted to the Executive Board at its fall 2012 meeting.
The Library Procurement Process Improvements Task Force, co-chaired by Katherine Lowry and Tracy Thompson-Przylucki, derives from Action Plan Goal I-D, Identify and Endorse Improvements to the Procurement Process that Will Benefit Librarians and Vendors. A significant portion of the discussion during the colloquium revolved around licensing, contract clauses, invoicing, and bundling practices. The task force will review and update the 2004 Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources, among other tools, and will develop a set of best practices to address the issues of invoicing and bundling. The task force will prepare an interim report for the Executive Board’s July 2012 meeting and a final report for the fall 2012 meeting.
Both task forces are charged with soliciting input from AALL members and other entities as appropriate. As a member of both task forces, I will help to provide communication between the groups on areas of common interest and work.
Serving Ex Officio on both committees, I'm unclear whether our Vendor Liaison will also serve as the point person between the rank-and-file members for one, both, or none of these new task forces but the November 2011 Vendor Liaison Update (published on Nov. 2, 2011) was the first official announcement I saw about the Library Procurement Process Improvement Task Force's call for member input on AALL's Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources (2004):
At this time the task force is seeking initial comments. We invite you to review the 2004 principles and provide any feedback you may have by November 18, 2011.
Ah, OK. Perhaps I missed an earlier announcement. Assuming no earlier announcement was widely published, it looks like interested rank-and-file members had about 16 days to submit comments. Well, at least that is be more than the apparent nine day deadline to submit comments to AALL for the draft Action Plan. In an AALL listserv broadcast dated July 6, 2011, the Vendor Liasion issued a call for rank-and-file member comments on the draft Action Plan due by July 15th. Again, perhaps I missed a previous comment call or an announced deadline extension because the Oct. 2011 Vendor Liaison Update states
After a 30-day comment period for membership input, the working group submitted the final draft of the Action Plan to the Executive Board at its July meeting.
Perhaps a "My Bad." Perhaps AALL still needs to tweak the whole web-based communications thing. Perhaps AALL has but if not a set procedure that specifies the duration of a comment period might be something to consider. I'm thinking 30 days isn't enough even after AALL get its act together for widely distributing e-announcements in "cyber speed."
In the context of the call for rank-and-file member comments about the 2004 Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources, the intent is to "make sure we [the Task Force] understand the broad spectrum of practices and concerns that need to be considered in the revised Principles." Not sure the Task Force can acquire that "broad spectrum" thing with a 16-day (or even a 30-day) comment period.
Call me cyncial but when a see a fairly short deadline, I think it is wee bit perfunctory in terms of wanting rank-and-file contributions. It is not unlike short deadlines to apply for announced job openings. See for example the Price Index Editor job announcement (official AALL posting dated Nov. 9, 2011; applications due Dec. 5, 2011). Besides for making it difficult for someone interested in the job, the impression is created that it might be a waste of time because a top candidate for the position, perhaps an insider, has been identified. My albeit cyncial bottom line is that short comment period calls by AALL generates the impression that AALL officaldom really isn't all that interested in rank-and-file input.
But the times, they are a-changing. I prefer to think "positive thoughts." Let's just assume that in baby step fashion AALL is still grapping with the new normal of association-member communications, that AALL's e-communications infrastructure is still "under construction" and that it will eventually evolve into a "cyber speed" medium. (And one that isn't tainted by an antitrustism policy that protects vendors from the professional intelligence gathering activities of member institutional buyers.)
At least in the case of member input for licensing, the comment call is only the first stage:
After gathering your feedback we [the Task Force] will compile a survey instrument to be distributed in early December to gather more targeted data.
Quoting from an email dated Nov. 2, 2011 by the AALL Vendor Liaison which I believe was re-posted on AALL's Library Consumer Advocacy Caucus independent group list; remember the Caucus is available to all. My understanding is Caucus members scrambled to submit comments and did so on or about Nov. 18th.
Do note that the Task Force's survey date was not mentioned in either the November 2011 AALL eNewsletter or the November 2011 Vendor Liaison Update. So watch out for it sometime in "early December" and pay close attention to the survey's deadline.
I don't know what's planned after the survey in terms of additional rank-and-file participation but there ought to be plenty of time for another opportunity to so, hopefully with more widespread notification, a more reasonable deadline for submitting contributions, and a more open-to-all collabrative way exchange of comments. While one can take RSS feeds to both AALL and the Vendor Liaison Update's for current awareness purpose their is no public-to-all comment function; one must use circa 1990s email. I think an association that now professes to be "transparent" has plenty of time to execute better web com mediums because the Task Force's mandate calls for issuing an interim report for the Executive Board’s July 2012 business meeting with a final report due for the Executive Board’s fall 2012 meeting.
Current resources for interested members include:
- 2010-2013 Strategic Directions (Past Strategic Directions statements on consumer advocacy goals).
- Vendor Colloquium Shared Principles
- Vendor Colloquium Action Plan
- Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources (2004)
- Library Procurement Process Improvements Task Force webpage
Better also watch the Vendor Liaison Update. It appears to be a monthly eNewsletter, meaning it isn't a blog for reporting developments in "cyber time" but it does have an RSS feed and can be used for much more timely updates if AALL quits thinking in terms of antiquated publication cycles. Do note, as of December 4, 2011, 11:00 AM Eastern, neither the "December 2012" issues of AALL eNewsletter or the Vendor Liaison Update were posted. Perhaps they are now.
As for AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers Revisions Task Force which also is charged with soliciting input from AALL members, no word on that. But then, perhaps I missed the announcement. Do note that his Task Force's mandate calls for submitting a final report for the Executive Board's July 2011 business meeting. In addition to the above, current resources for interested members include:
- Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers (2008)
- AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers Revisions Task Force webpage
I don't expect much from either of these projects. "Guides" and "Principles" are not enforceable. We already know which vendors show goodwill by their voluntary compliance and which vendors have an established track record for ignoring both AALL's Guide to Fair Business Practices and Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources. But sharing the rank-and-file's professional intelligence and communicating that to our association is a good thing. AALL just has to get up to speed on ways and means to do that in the 21st century.
In a LawLibCon podcast I recall that one "outcome" of the Vendor Colliquim was AALL's realization that it needed to improve its communications with the membership because plenty of "content" was on AALLNET for member access. See the Action Plan for details. AALL still needs to improve its e-communications with the rank-and-file but at least it is trying. However, as long as the TOS for AALL forums are still infected with the disease of "antitrustism" a serious problem remains. Just get rid of that and we can see if our "associate members" (read vendors) who will monitor the forums like they monitor AALL lists complain. Under the laughable rubic of being "partners" we can see if they sue first, ask questions later, or follow the commonly accepted web forums procedure of notifying AALL of "objectable" content and the basis for their objection for a possible message takedown. [JH]
Vendor Business Practices and Their Licensed Content evaluated in very understandable manner thanks for the effort made. Nice article indeed.
Posted by: Sample Statements | Dec 7, 2011 4:58:06 AM