January 25, 2012
Time and duty to one's employer is "of the essence" in vendor relations; much less so for AALL
Most if not all of us who have budgets to manage, collections to develop, and patrons to serve view vendor relations as something more than just is "a topic on everyone’s mind." We have been and continue to take actions because that is what our employers pay us to do. But when and to what degree of involvement AALL is going to take actions to support its institutional members continues to be "a topic on everyone's mind."
When? To quote from the Vendor Liaison January 2012 e-Update (date stamped Jan. 23, 2012 via my RSS feed)
Developing a vendor relations policy has been one of my top priorities from the beginning because it will provide the basis for how we address issues as an Association. Now that my regular work with committees and task forces has become more routine, I have time to work on articulating the issues that will form a framework for such a policy.
I envision this to be analogous to AALL's Government Relations Policy in that it will describe AALL's role in consumer advocacy and the expertise of its members on issues related to library relations with information vendors. It will address the areas of interest and concern that are important to law libraries and on which the Association might take a position. Because the Executive Board has primary responsibility for approval of Association policy, the vendor relations policy will be drafted for discussion and adoption by the board.
Although I do not have a timeline for completing work on the vendor relations policy, I do hope to have initial discussions with the Executive Board at its spring 2012 meeting in late March. At this time, I would like to invite AALL members to help me formulate the list of issues for discussion. What vendor relations issues are important to your library? What are the issues on which the Association should take a position? In what ways should the Association support its members' consumer advocacy efforts?
Please email me no later than February 15 with your thoughts on these issues. I hope to hear from many of you in the coming weeks.
Really other work was more important? Only now have time for working on a "top priority" policy draft which is supposed to be the basis of the Vendor Liaison's paid-for tasks? This is not a criticism of our current Vendor Liaison. She's employed by the E-Board so she has to follow their marching orders.
Do note, members have what, something like a three weeks to contribute to this specific stage in the timeline-devoid process. Jeez, if the blog widow says OK, I hope to retire in six years ... will AALL be finished with this work by then? But more is going on.
To what degree of involvement? AALL Chapter Presidents received the following email also date-stamped Jan. 23, 2012 but not mentioned in either the January 2012 Vendor Liaison Update or the January 2012 AALL eNewsletter:
Monday, January 23, 2012 7:09 PM
To: AALL Council of Chapter Presidents
Cc: Margaret Maes
Subject: [c-chpr] Survey on Vendor Relations Chapter Leaders
Vendor Relations is a topic on everyone’s mind as we struggle to purchase and maintain resources for our libraries and patrons.
Margie Maes, AALL Vendor Liaison [email link omitted to avoid robo-scraping] wants to know if any chapters have a vendor relations committee or liaison, and if any chapters have conducted any recent programs relating to vendor activities. Please click here [link omitted] to answer this brief survey. You can answer the survey yourself or delegate it to a committee chair or board member. Also, more than one person per chapter can respond.
As a reminder, you can request a visit from Margie as part of the Chapter Visit program. Go to the Chapter Visit page on AALLNET to find information on policies and procedures for Chapter Visits.
Margie Maes and I thank you in advance for your help with this survey
By "I" instead of "we" I guess is meant the first of the three sig lines in the email.
Patricia Barbone, AALL Chair of the Council of Chapter Presidents, 2011-2012.
Here are the survey questions:
Vendor Relations in the Chapters
Survey on Vendor Relations Activities in the Chapters
Patricia Barbone, Chair of the Council of Chapter Presidents, is conducting this survey on behalf of Margie Maes, AALL Vendor Liaison, to learn what chapters are doing regarding vendor relations.
* 1. What is your NAME?
* 2. Responding for which CHAPTER?
* 3. Does your Chapter have a Vendor Relations Committee or Liaison?
* 4. Has your Chapter done any vendor relations related programming or activities? If yes, please tell us how.
* 5. Are you considering any programming or activites related to Vendor Relations in the near future?
* 6. Are you planning on creating a Vendor Relations committee or appointing a Liaison in the near future?
* 7. Do you think Vendor Relations is a topic that Chapters should address?
8. Do you have any additional comments about Vendor Relations?
Some of the work that has kept the Vendor Liaison too busy to draft a vendor relations policy has been publicized, namely "working" with CRIV and "supporting" the work of the task forces and activities initiated by the Vendor Colloquium Action Plan, (Library Procurement Process Improvement Task Force and the Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers Revisions Task Force, both established in October 2011), plus supporting the Price Index for Legal Publications Committee for which the January 2011 AALL eNewsletter just announced the E-Board's appointment of an Index Editor (according to the job posting, I think one should say hired) for a three-year term effective Feb. 1, 2012. The above survey, however, is the first I (but not only I) have seen about the E-Board, by way of the Vendor Liaison, delving into Chapter-level structures and activities on this matter.
A justifable concern? In survey monkey fashion, the above Chapters survey looks innocent enough. Certainly it can (read will) be reasoned that the survey results will provide information for the development of AALL's national-level vendor relations policy. However, based on the AALL's antitrustism-inspired cram-down of its web communications policy at the Chapter level for their websites and listservs last year and our association's 2007-to-date history of rejecting any vendor-buyer relations annual meeting program proposals that go beyond our E-Boards' comfort zone, there is a damn good reason for Chapters to be worried about AALL strong-arming Chapter vendor relations both in terms of committee structures and future programs that may address in any way shape or form vendor-buyer issues among chapter-level members. Of course, not even AALL can censor the whispers in hallways between Chapter-level meetings or the more noisy hotel bar conversations about vendor relations.
Here's a thought since the suggestion has been made. Instead of having whichever E-Board member who draws the short straw to attend your Chapter's annual meeting, insist on having the Vendor Liaison attend it. Go to AALL Chapter Visits. I've attended too many chapter annual meetings where the E-Board member did his or her happy talk presentation that was so boring few questions were asked by the attendees, fewer answered with any real information value. If AALL refuses to the send the Vendor Liaison (she might be too busy, you know, since her mandate appears to become E-Board's go-to person to get involved in just about everything even remotely considered to be "vendors-related") then I think the appropriate response just might be "an E-Board member is not welcome because we want to hear from our your employee and only our your employee."
One way to look at my suggestion is that if the Vendor Liaison is kept busy traveling across this great land of ours, a bastion of aggressive capitalism for legal publishers demonstrating monopolistic tendencies whenever and wherever they can (meaning, particularly in many state markets), to attend Chapter annual meetings, it is less likely that AALL can do any more damage. Since it is clear that "time is not of the essence" in AALL's relationship with its members on this matter, why not.
One basic question remains. A much more fundamental way to look at this is to question how can our association go about developing a vendor relations policy without first having an antitrust policy in place? Oh, my bad, our association has been implementing the Board-rejected draft antitrustism policy, meaning, of course, AALL has its de facto policy in place.
Is there any reason why AALL needs a more restrictive antitrust policy than ALA? See AALL's Biggest Blunder of 2011. [JH]