March 7, 2012
Licensing eResources by Law Libraries
In case you missed it or in case you refused to accept the terms and conditions of AALL's web communications policy to join the Members Open Forum that AALL unilaterally populated with all AALL members, in a March 5, 2012 date-stamped Members Open Forum post, AALL's president issued the below call to the membership to take a survey. Do note well, the survey closes on March 19, 2012.
Recently, I appointed the Library Procurement Process Improvements Task Force, to address one of the outcomes from the Vendor Colloquium Action Plan. As part of its work, the task force has developed a short 10 minute survey in order to gain additional feedback from AALL members. The results from the survey will help identify areas of high-priority as the task force continues to review the AALL Principles for Licensing Electronic Resources and creates a checklist based off these principles to serve as additional guidance in the library procurement process.
Please complete the short survey before it closes on March 19, 2012 to ensure that the task force understands the broad spectrum of practices and concerns that need to be considered in the revised principles.
The survey really is short. Not sure how AALL came up with the "10 minutes" time because it took me all of 60 seconds to answer the no-brainer questions. They are very and I mean very general but in the context of the objective of identifying "high-priority" areas (read not specific issues), I guess this effort is or can or may be characterized as the start of a long and winding road to specificity assuming that the Task Force intends to solicit additional feedback by follow-up issue-focused surveys. Don't know. "Principles" are not "guidelines."
Even if AALL decides "guidelines" for licensing e-Resources are long overdue, it is not like our association of institutional buyers will have much success with enforcing them. Besides the likely outcome that AALL's long established practice of dithering over pressing institutional buyer concerns has typically resulted in "too little, too late" responses, AALL certainly has not had much success with persuading its vendor "partners" to abide by its long established guidelines of p-resources, even after the Vendor Colloquium. It is going to take a much more aggressive consumer advocacy to do anything that actually represents its insitutional buyer members. So far, AALL has earned one big F = failure if we use ALA as the standard of what can actions can be taken by an institutional buyers association well-informed about member concerns.
Attendees of Boston 2012: Learn, Connect, Grow (whatever), might want to mark the following session on their calendar.
G4: Antitrust Considerations and the Association, Monday July 23, 2012 2:45pm - 4:00pm @ HCC-Room TBD
Speakers Shaun Esposito, Margaret K. Maes
Target Audience: Librarians with responsibility for library administration and/or legal information purchasing decisions
1) Participants will understand the history of the Federal Trade Commission guidelines related to legal information resources and of the antitrust discussion within AALL.
2) Participants will be able to identify the challenges posed by current antitrust law on association activity, while also identifying strategies for effective collective responses to unfair licensing and publishing practices.
AALL Vendor Liaison Margaret Maes will introduce the program with a brief history of the transition from FTC rules to guidelines and the antitrust discussion and considerations that have garnered interest within the Association’s membership. Panelists will then review key challenges that associations face when considering action at the organizational level, identifying those activities that are outside the boundaries of legal collective action. Next, panelists will offer a survey of association activity related to business practices that are acceptable and feasible, along with a report of action taken to date by the Executive Board with respect to antitrust policy issues. Lastly, the audience will be asked to contribute suggestions and responses.
All panelists have not yet been identified. I'm thinking our association's legal counsel who drafted last year's bend-over rejected but de facto implemented antitrustism policy should be there, if still retained. If not, our association's current legal counsel should be there. Hell, some AALL members have suggested that an independent antitrust specialist attend this session because "the audience will be asked to contribute suggestions and responses." I am willing to support that suggestion by pulling out my checkbook even if it is not a recognized "sponsorship" opportunity by AALL.
I'm also thinking that this may be the first public opportunity for our association's vendor liaison to respond to former AALL president Kathie Price's closing comment at Harvard's 2011 "Future of Law Libraries: The Future is Now?" conference. In her "Developing Human Resources: The Skills Needed for Law Librarians of Today and the Future" session, Price closed her presentation by stating that AALL must confront publishers over antitrust issues before it is too late. Ah, that had nothing to do with the session topic. I was there. Price was looking directly at our association's current vendor liaison when she made that statement.
Vendor Relations and AALL's Web Communications Policy. While I was very relucant to accept AALL's rules for its web communications platform, I did eventually hit the "accept buttom" to sign up for a couple of groups for reading purposes only. It's been a learning experience and one thing I learned yesterday came by way of a Vendor Relations group post. While we are not supposed to talk about pricing, etc., etc., one AALL member has found a work-around. That work-around is to call attention to and link to a blog post that discloses a vendor's pricing that was published outside the walled garden of AALL's antitrustism-inspired policy. Hum. [JH]