September 19, 2012
Beckman Center Report on eBooks and eLending in Libraries
O'Brien, Gasser and Palfrey prepared a briefing document entitled E-Books in Libraries (July 1, 2012) [SSRN] for a library eLending workshop. Here's an excerpt from the abstract:
Beginning with a brief overview of the history and the current state of the e-book publishing market, the document traces the structure of the licensing practices and business models used by distributors to make e-books available in libraries, and identifies select challenges facing libraries and publishers. Where possible, we have made an effort to incorporate stakeholder perspectives and real-world examples to connect analysis to the actual questions, issues, and challenges that arise in practice. The document concludes with a number of informative resources – including news articles, whitepapers, stakeholder and trade association reports, and other online sources – that might inform future conversations, investigations, pilot projects, and best practices in this space.
The topics presented in this briefing come at an important moment for the publishing industry, and in particular the e-book market, both of which have been rapidly evolving over the last several years. These changes are, in turn, affecting the models used by publishers’ horizontal and vertical business partners, such as libraries and distributors. While we have endeavored to provide accurate information within this document, the dynamic flux of the industry can make it difficult to accurately capture a comprehensive snapshot of its current state. For instance, during the course of our initial research we found that some information published as recently as September 2011 had already become outdated; other salient information is not made publicly available for competitive reasons. Please note that we consider this to be a working document, which we hope to develop further as information changes and the issues evolve.
Highly recommended. [JH]
September 05, 2012
Sacramento Public Library Authority Reaches Settlement on Lending eReaders Inaccessible to Persons with Disabilities
Last week the DOJ announced it and the National Federation of the Blind have reached a settlement with the Sacramento Public Library Authority (CA) to resolve allegations that the library violated the ADA by using inaccessible eReaders, specifically Barnes & Noble's NOOK, in its patron lending program. From the DOJ press release:
Under the settlement agreement, the library will not acquire any additional e-readers for patron use that exclude persons who are blind or others with disabilities who need accessible features such as text-to-speech functions or the ability to access menus through audio or tactile options. The library has also agreed to acquire at least 18 e-readers that are accessible to persons with disabilities. The settlement agreement also requires the library to train its staff on the requirements of the ADA.
“Emerging technologies like e-readers are changing the way we interact with the world around us and we need to ensure that people with disabilities are not excluded from the programs where these devices are used,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez.
Hat tip to DigitalKoans. [JH]
July 13, 2012
"Friday Fun": The Pre-Sentencing Hearing for the Librarian Judged Obsolete: Something to think about while visiting exhibits at AALL Boston 2012.
|Screen capture taken on June 30, 2012.|
After publication of The Advance of the “No Touch” Sales Model: On obsolescence in the vendor-buyer "partnership" on June 26, 2012, which included a video excerpt from the Twilight Zone's 1961 Obsolete Man episode, several LLB readers asked me to post the earlier portion of the episode that contained the court scene for the librarian who was judged obsolete and ultimately sentenced to death. One email requestor, who asked for anonymity for reasons that should be obvious to all, thought it would be approprate to do so because of AALL's website promotion for visiting the exhibit hall. "Talking to booth bunny experts, really?"
Considering the topic addressed in the "No Touch" sales model post, I concur with the requests for posting the below video. It's categorized as a "Friday Fun" post to recognize that at least one uber vendor's strategic objective is clearly striving to make law librarians, also known as well-informed buyer reps, obsolete by following the Amazon model for eCommerce "no touch" retail sales to the individual consumer under its OnePassYourAss billing scheme. [JH]
June 26, 2012
The Advance of the “No Touch” Sales Model: On obsolescence in the vendor-buyer "partnership"
Every major legal publisher has an eCommerce site for purchasing products. We routinely see this in the advertising spam that fills our email boxes with “Deals of the Day” and time-sensitive discount codes for executing multiple purchases via vendor websites. This is called “no touch” sales. By “no touch” is meant the automated processing of sales transactions – no labor cost expensive human interaction required on the vendor side of this “partnership.”. Just “click” to make the purchase and input the necessary billing data. (Don't be surprised if billing data is automatically filled in the online order form some day.) It's the Amazon model.
The difference is that Amazon has always been a “no touch” seller. Our legal vendors have not. Will we see the day when real human beings will only be servicing uber large accounts and the rest of us will be “no touched” for print standing orders and online licensing? I think it is very possible that we will.
Downsizing sales forces and reorganizations of sales territories is already becoming an almost annual event. It is not beyond the realm of the industry’s cost-savings objectives that the only humans in a sales force will be those who hunt for new accounts in the field. Why? Could it be because the MBA-types who are calling the shots fail to understand the sales relationship between vendor field reps and buyer reps? Could it be because they never received an education in sales in B-Schools? Could it be because all they understand about a sales force is that they have to meet in Las Vegas every year?
It certainly can be the objective of some vendors to make their field reps obsolete and hopefully make well-informed buyer reps also obsolete by way of No Touch eCommerce sites. Just market sales pitches to ill-informed individual consumers. At the moment, West Mart is leading the vendor pack in implementing “no touch” sales by way of its eCommerce site and its OnePassYourAss scheme. Will other vendors follow to this extreme into the twilight zone of mutual obsolescence because the human factor just doesn’t compute in the business model for sales? [JH]
June 19, 2012
Member and Vendor Comments on First Draft of Revised AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers Due by July 15
Quoting from the Vendor Liasion Update for June 2012:
The Revisions Task Force on the AALL Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers seeks member and vendor comments on its first draft of the next edition of the guide. The task force invites suggestions for alternative language, problems or successes in using the guide, and new developments that should be included in the principles. Comments can be submitted via the Vendor Relations Community on AALLNET (login required) or to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The task force was created in July 2011 and is charged with reviewing the guide’s second edition (adopted by the AALL Executive Board in 2006) and submitting a report with proposed revisions this fall. The purpose of the guide is to educate vendors and consumers on "fair business practices" and to set realistic expectations on both sides that will facilitate effective and productive relationships. The task force’s goal is to update the guide to ensure that it remains relevant for print and electronic resources; this may include modernizing the practices addressed, clarifying language, strengthening principles, and adding supporting examples.
The deadline for comments is July 15.
Download a redlined version of the first draft here. [JH]
April 30, 2012
Libraries Are Obsolete
In an age of rapid digitalization Harvard Library Strategic Conversations hosted "Libraries Are Obsolete: An Oxford-Style Debate” on April 18, 2012. Here's the much anticipated video of the event which featured Dr. James Tracy, Headmaster, Cushing Academy, and R. David Lankes, Professor and Dean’s Scholar for the New Librarianship, University of Syracuse iSchool and Director of the Information Institute of Syracuse speaking in favor of the libraries are obsolute proposition. They were opposed in the debate by Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and John Palfrey, soon to be former Vice Dean for Library and Information Resources and Henry N. Ess III Professor of Law at Harvard Law School.
Steve Matthews offers a summary and critique of the debate on 21st Century Library Blog.
Folks interested in this issue also may want to read two recent articles: Nicholas Carr's Techonlogy Review article, The Library of Utopia, and Steve Coffman's Searcher article, The Decline and Fall of the Library Empire. [JH]
April 28, 2012
Zimmerman's Research Guide Adds Library Management Resources
Andy Zimmerman has started a section on Library Management under the Law Librarianship entry in Zimmerman's Research Guide. [JH]
April 27, 2012
Findings from Law Library Benchmarks Survey
From Research and Markets' press release for its Law Library Benchmarks, 2012-13 Ed.:
The study looks closely at the budgets, spending, technology acquisition, web use and other practices by law libraries in the USA and Canada. Data is broken out by size and type of law library and for law libraries in the USA and Canada.
Just some of the study's many findings are that:
- 50% of libraries in the United States and 30.43% of those in Canada feel that the space allocated to their library will decrease in three years time.
- Libraries in the sample spent a mean of $3,462 on online databases per lawyer employed in 2011 and a maximum of $20,835. Libraries in the United States spent a mean of $3,883, while those in Canada spent about $2,647.
- University libraries spent a mean of $1,141,321 on salaries, more than twice the mean $487,504 spent by government and courthouse libraries and more than four times the $243,054 spent by law firm libraries.
- In 2011, 41.33% of libraries in the sample increased their overall library budget.
- Law firm librarians in the sample spend a mean of 9.03 staff hours per week in finding new clients for the firm.
- Materials budgets are expected to decline in real terms in 2012.
- Libraries in the sample spent a mean of $5,892 on salaries per lawyer in their organization.
- Print resources still accounted for 53.65% of the materials budget for the libraries in the sample though only 42.5% for law firm libraries.
- 3.8% of the libraries sampled used the cloud service DropBox for cloud computing services.
- Libraries with less than 100 lawyers in their organization spent a mean of $32,027 on scholarly journals.
- Print subscriptions to magazines and newspapers cost libraries in the sample a mean of $68,998 in 2011.
April 18, 2012
UConn Law Library Turns Into an "Inferno" During Recent Heat Wave
"It’s almost like UConn Law is trying to start a trend in dropping it like it’s hot. First, they dropped six spots in the U.S. News rankings, then they dropped Dean Jeremy Paul, and now they’re asking law students to drop trou in the library due to unseasonably warm temperatures and their inability to turn off the heat," reports ATL's Staci Zaretsky. A tipster described UConn’s law library as an “inferno.”
Why? According to an email sent out by the law library:
[T]he air conditioning unit is not ready to be turned on.
Please note that the air conditioning in the Law Library is much more complicated to turn on than simply flipping a switch to your home air conditioning unit.
The weather report indicates that air temperatures will return to what is considered normal for the month of April on Wednesday 04/18/12. With this in mind, please dress for warmer temperatures while on campus both today [April 16th] and tomorrow.
In her April 16th ATL post, The Only Thing That’s ‘Hot’ at This School Is the Temperature, Staci Zaretsky advised law students who may have been cramming for exams in the law library, "Of course, you could also leave the library — it’s UConn, not Yale." The weather forecast for Hartford, CT is looking better for today. [JH]
April 10, 2012
Pew Interent to Research the Changing Landscape of Library Services in First Comprehensive Examination of Reading Habits Since the Rise of eBooks
Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project is conducting the frist comprehensive examination of the reading habits of the general population in the digital era since eBooks came into prominence. The first installment in this Gates Foundation-funded research was pubished in a report dated April 5, 2012. Titled, "The rise of e-reading," Pew reports on the findings of its survey results in detail. The report can be downloaded in PDF here and can be viewed online here.
Key findings include:
- A fifth of American adults have read an e-book in the past year and the number of e-book readers grew after a major increase in ownership of e-book reading devices and tablet computers during the holiday gift-giving season.
- The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer.
- 30% of those who read e-content say they now spend more time reading, and owners of tablets and e-book readers particularly stand out as reading more now.
- The prevalence of e-book reading is markedly growing, but printed books still dominate the world of book readers.
- E-book reading happens across an array of devices, including smartphones.
- In a head-to-head competition, people prefer e-books to printed books when they want speedy access and portability, but print wins out when people are reading to children and sharing books with others.
The Role of Commercial eBooks in Public Libraries. "The rise of e-reading" report is part of the first phase of Pew's research project. "Subsequent reports will cover how librarians and patrons perceive the situation with e-books and other digital content, and how people in different kinds of communities (urban, suburban, and rural) compare in their reading habits. Further down the line, this research will cover the changing landscape of library services."
Later in this first phase of the work, we will survey librarians and library patrons about the role of e-books in libraries. In the second phase of the work later in 2012, we will conduct focus groups with librarians and patrons about the changing scope of services being offered and being contemplated in libraries. We will supplement that work with a national survey of the general public about the evolving role of libraries in communities. In the third phase of the work in 2013, we will conduct a large national survey of library users and non-users.
Once completed, I think Pew's research will provide an empirical foundation for public libraries and the trade publishing industry which may be useful to move forward. Certainly ALA's promise to detailed circulation data to the general trade industry may help those publishers who do not offer eBooks for lending by providing some information for crafting a pricing matrix. Pew's research could put that specific issue in a broader context.
The Changing Landscape of Law Library Services Because of Commercial Enhanced Law eBooks. I do not believe Pew's research will attempt to isolate the use of specialized eBooks by professionals in the context of work-related needs. However, I believe legal information professionals, institutional and individual consumers of professional eBooks may find the findings of Pew's research studies useful albeit not directly on point.
We are not yet at the stage where our vendors' enhanced law eBooks has risen to the prominence seen in general trade titles. That's because our vendors have been behind the curve in bringing to market this new form of publication where the e in eBooks stands for enhanced. But they are catching up and are beginning to compete with each other; enhanced law eBooks are here.
Our major vendors target the private sector first because that is where the $$$ is. That's why on my schedule of possible programs to attend at Boston 2012, one of the few sessions I marked with a check mark instead of a question mark is Law Firm Libraries: Your E-book Future Has Arrived, (Monday July 23, 2012 1:15pm - 2:15pm at HCC-Room 306) Organizers and presenters include two large law firm librarians and representatives from Thomson Reuters and Lexis.
This a session I hope all law library market sector buying representatives consider attending. I seriously doubt the organizers intended to exclude the "rest of us." It is just that firm libraries will be the first adopters of enhanced law eBooks. The rest of us will benefit now and in the future from the law firm perspective.
Quoting from this program's description:
Visions of attorneys waving their Kindles and iPads in front of our faces demanding e-books have begun to haunt our dreams. So many questions come to mind: What will the functionality be like? How will updates work? Will our attorneys want both print and e-book, and what will that do to our budgets? What happens when an attorney leaves, along with e-book content paid for by the firm? A panel of two firm librarians who have conducted e-book trials, and two vendors will talk about the experience, as well as what vendors are doing with regard to functionality, pricing, and administration.
March 26, 2012
LexisNexis Is Going to Win the First Round in Providing a Circulation Solution for Commercial Law eBooks
Back in September 2011, I opined that Thomson Reuters was going to win the second round in the Law eBook slugfest because it was the first major publisher to come to market with an enhanced law eBook format. Other than downloading two laughable free ProView titles, I've been too damn scared to buy even the least expensive ProView title I could find because I couldn't buy it without agreeing to accept it on a "good 'til cancelled" license. Oh, well, I will muster up the courage eventually to see if the embedded linkages in an acquired ProView title are as haphazardly "selected" as the ones in the two freebie offerings. Of course, I won't be able to see if the links actually work because I do not subscribe to WestlawNext.
Since that post, Lexis has started bringing to market enhanced law eBooks. The embedded links were more consistent throughout the two free titles I tested. [Sample downloads here.} The links send you to Classic Lexis (login required) and to my surprise the links sent me to database resources outside of my in-plan only Lexis license. Frankly, I'm not sure if that was the case because the titles I tested were freebies or is a feature of purchased enhanced eBooks from Lexis but access was based on my Lexis user account.
So far it looks to me that TR Legal has more enhanced law eBooks in the marketplace but Lexis is beginning to catch up. However, beware of using Lexis’ bookstore site listings. For the moment, at least, there is no way to distinguish enhanced editions from unenhanced eBook editions. Enhanced editions will more likely have a 2012 publication date but it is wise to check with your p- and e-book account rep for confirmation unless it does not matter which form of eBook you are buying. For me, it matters. I see no point in buying any eBook that does not start to take advantage of the eBook publication form as a platform for enhancement.
Circulation Solutions. In terms of lending enhanced law eBooks, I will note that when I took a look-see on TR Legal’s eCommerce site, I found that I could “add West user accounts” for purchasing a ProView eBook but again I was too scared to do so. Was I buying one "good 'til cancelled" eBook license accessible to every damn West user account I added or was I buying multiple licenses? What was the cost? The only thing I knew for certain was that this option was not clearly indicated as being for circulation purposes. When a company has a reputation for maximizing its opportunity to guarantee its revenue stream in no small part because the investment community focuses on “recurring revenue,” and the Company is allowing any user of a OnePass account to purchase materials on its eCommerce site that will appear on an institutional buyer's billing statement without making any attempt to confirm with that institution that the OnePass holder has the authority to make purchases, there is absolutely no reason to trust that vendor.
Oh well, I won’t be a buyer of ProView titles for my user population until I have no choice but to license WestlawNext instead of Classic Westlaw. Alternatively I may switch over my Westlaw users to Lexis-Lexis Advance. Clearly enhanced eBooks and the ability to circulate them will be an important factor in any future collection development decisions for all legal resources. As time marches on, there is no doubt in my mind that enhanced Law ebooks from our major vendors will cannibalize database selections in online search license plans whether by way on a reduction in out-of-plan resources or even in-plan resources. Perhaps, I should say "may cannibalize" because of possible bundling and tie-in requirements.
In a matter of great concern to all institutional buyers who have been thinking about the law eBook phenomenon, Lexis announced with very little fanfare last Friday that it has launched an eBook circulation solution powered by Overdrive. In addition to providing a means for lending its eBooks, the platform includes circulation controls and collection development usage tools that libraries can use "to eliminate title duplication and quantify savings for firm management." This is exactly the opposite tactic TR Legal is using to sell ProView titles. Remember the legal publishing industry adage – “do the opposite of whatever the folks in the Land of 10,000 invoices eBook Licenses is doing.”
No doubt, both companies recognize that their enhanced eBook offerings will cut into their pBook sales. Why buy X number of office copies and y number of library copies of a title in print and/or in eBook formats if you can reduce both of those numbers some by buying Z number of eBook titles that circulate. Only one company right now is willing to work with institutional buyers to provide a sensible solution in the commercial market space. That’s why LexisNexis is going to win the first round in the eBook lending solution slugfest.
In the context of circulation options for commercial law eBooks, we currently have only one choice. See Introducing LexisNexis Digital Library... for some information about this service. The web announcement does not (yet) answers many of the questions institutional buyers will have but it is a start in the right direction for the user populations of most institutional buyers. Details to follow. [JH]
March 08, 2012
New Management Team Announced for Harvard Law School Library
Harvard Law School has announced that Jonathan Zittrain, Professor of Law, Faculty Co-Director, Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and Professor of Computer Science, has been appointed Vice-Dean of Library and Information Resources and Suzanne Wones, HLS Library’s Assistant Director of Research, Curriculum and Publication Services, has been appointed Acting Executive Director of the law library, both effective July 1, 2012. According to yesterday's announcement, Zittrain and Wones will serve for one academic year, "after which the library’s leadership structure will be further assessed."
About Zittrain and Wones' roles and responsibilities:
Zittrain will oversee the work of the executive director and the associate director, Kim Dulin, who leads the Harvard Library Innovation Lab. He will also chair the HLS Library Committee and represent HLS on the Harvard Library Board. He will serve as the primary liaison between the library and the faculty, oversee changes to the Collection Development Policy, and lead other matters concerning library strategy.
Wones will oversee all daily HLS Library activities, including research services, FRIDA, academic technology, empirical services, scholarly communications, case studies, collection development, historical and special collections, and digitization. She will also lead strategic planning with input from HLS and library administrators, develop and manage the library budget, steward faculty/library relationships, work with the HLS development office, and serve as a representative of the HLS Library within Harvard University and on HLS committees and working groups, at national conferences, and with collaborative partners.
February 08, 2012
Thomson Reuters' OnePass-YourAss Scheme, Part Two: "There are times when verbal ingenuity is not enough."
Just because some OnePass account holder gets a pop up in WestMart's eCommerce online purchasing system which says in effect "I am authorized to make this purchase" doesn't cut it when Thomson Reuters has made absolutely no attempt to verify that statement. That OnePass account holder may think he or she is authorized to buy because he or she has this nifty OnePass user account but will learn that is not the case after racking up an institutional charge that results in an in-house "Banzai" meeting with this buckaroo.
"Hey, hey, hey — don't be mean. We don't have to be mean. 'Cause, remember: no matter where you go... there you are." Hell, even Amazon has a better system. I can buy something on Amazon, charge it to my personal credit card or established institutional line-of-credit account depending on well, you know, I am buying something for me or my library. I can also instruct Amazon where I want the stuff shipped as in to home or office and that ship-to is not tied to my billing selection. Of course, there is another solution. It is a bit extreme but in this Shed West Era of print cancellations and there being no sacred cows requiring both WEXIS search services, just kill off TR Legal search but remember you will also have to kill off all OnePass-ed "solutions" services, too.
So here we are. Once upon a time, West reps were selling CDs to individual attorneys that showed up on their institution's billing account without prior approval from whomever actually had the authority to spend the institution's $$. Then billing to West institutional accounts was restricted. Now TR Legal is stealing a sales tactic from the bad old days and applying it again.
"Treat us good, we'll treat you better. Treat us bad, we’ll treat you worse." I'm thinking TR Legal believes most institutional buyers just won't be won't be paying much attention to their OnePass-YourAss system. Bull. In these times of close monitoring of spending, even a $12 charge to a library account gets spotted. Of course, not all institutional buyers pay that much attention or are as knowledgeable in how Thomson Reuters tries to conduct business until the Company gets caught.
Today's TR ProView eBooks will end up being just like yesterday's CD-ROMs. When we invoice-playing institutional buyers see statements that include the $$$ charges for unauthorized purchases (plus their multi-years commitments to and good 'til cancelled licensing terms) by way of OnePass-YourAss all hell will break out again.
"In my experience, nothing is ever what it seems to be, but everything is exactly what it is." Hello TR Legal, we know you really meant it when you told lawyers in a nutshell that they needed their heads examined if they know their law librarian's name a couple of years ago. We know the marketing objective to increase sales is to sell directly to the attorney (pBooks, eBooks, even, god hell us, perhaps someday personalized WLN plans in institutional settings) by way of WestMart. Hell, I've got no problem if any attorney foolishly wants to spend his or her money to buy one of your products or services but I seriously doubt any institutional buyer wants that personal purchase to become an institutionalized expense.
I offer three off-the-top of this aging and decrepit Boomer-Gen law library director reasons:
- There is no verification mechanism in place;
- Institutional buyers just might want to make volume purchases at a discounted price; and
- You know damn well, no institutional buyer representative wants to start his or her week off with the following to-do list.
OnePass Account Holder Jim Smith's license for X is set to expire. Does he want to keep it? What is the price inflation rate?
OnePass Account Holder Bob Daleo's licenses for X and Y are set to expire. Does he want to cancel one or both of them? If not, what is the price inflation rate?
One Pass Account Holder Mike Suchsland's license for A is set to expire. Does he want to keep it? What is the price inflation rate?
Remember to check with OnePass Account Holder Peter Warwick to see if he still wants us to shell out for SuperLawyer or has simply forgotten about that.
Check to confirm that Friday's request that former OnePass Account Holder Tom Glocer's account and all things tied to his account has been vaporized.
One Pass Account Holder Mike Suchsland's license for B and Z is set to expire. Does he want to cancel one or both of them? If not, what is the price inflation rate?
One Pass Account Holder Deirdre Stanley's licenses for C, D, X, Y are set to expire. Before checking with her, log into her account to see if her license for A was vaporized because Jim Smith thinks it is too expense although Mike Suchsland "loves" it. (Note to self: did we get a credit?)
OnePass Account Holder Jim Smith's license for C and E are set to expire. Does he want to keep them? What is the price inflation rate?
Check (again) to see if the glitch to Jim Powell's OnePass account has been fixed yet.
"A battle won is a battle which [Thomson Reuters] will not acknowledge being lost." TRI's year-end financial report and webcast about that starts at 8:30 AM (Eastern) tomorrow. I doubt any of the execs will be highlighting this OnePass-YourAss scheme to guarantee a revenue stream for its cash cow, TR Legal.
Of course, I could be wrong. They just might be that arrogant to still think TR Legal's US legal customer base really, really needs what TR sells so their customer base will swallow OnePass-YourAss. Hell, someone may even follow the well-scripted response that "we've surveyed our customers and they think this is great!"
"Know that, as in life, there is much that many have looked upon but few have seen because, as my father told me and his father told him, you will come to learn a great deal if you study the insignificant in depth." The investment community knows that. Remember folks, what really matters to the investment community isn't one-off revenue. It's all about organic growth of recurring revenues (read subscriptions and licenses). TR Legal paid the price for maintaining its historical rate of print supplement price inflation during what is known as the work-in-progress Shed West Era.
TRI's OnePass-YourAss scheme with its tie-up to institutional accounts, its multi-year commitments to its coming line of ProView eBooks designed to be sold to individual attorneys with that later-on standing order component and the automatic eBook price inflation rates we will see in a couple of years, is designed for one and only one reason. That reason is not "consumer surplus," an economic term of art for consumers happy to get more than what they expected. Nope, the strategic objective here is increasing its lost revenue stream for recurring revenues. However...
"Those in a hurry show only that the thing they are about is too big for them."
February 07, 2012
Thomson Reuters' OnePass-YourAss Scheme, Part One: The sign on the wall says "Progress over [Software] Protocol"
Back on Dec. 15, 2011, a law firm librarian posted a warning on law-lib about how anyone who has a credit card or knows the firm's Land of 10,000 Invoices account number can execute a transaction that will be billed to the firm's West account. Hell, one doesn't even have to know the institution's West billing account number(s). There is plenty of tie-ins. Ship-to addresses are tied to bill-to West accounts. Even easier, order online via WestMart requires an OnePass user account which is, of course, automatically associated with the institutional buyer's West billing account. Ah ... having an individual OnePass account permits the account holder to use resources licensed by the institution. It does not mean every damn OnePass account holder has a "license" to buy something. Do note well, even personal, meaning not firm, credit card purchases can get sucked into TR's OnePass-YourAss system.
A comment to the Dec. 15, 2011 law-lib post identified just how far and wide TR's OnePass-YourAss practice reaches. By that I mean we aren't just talking about an attorney buying a $15 dollar Rutter Group pamphlet for office use without prior authorization (damn good catch!), a SuperLawyers transaction involving a firm's market director (who presumable has the authority to use a firm credit for this transaction) also appeared in the firm's West account managed by the law library! (Obviously, Thomson Reuters wants folks to replace in-house budgeting and expenditure systems that identify library spend for legal resources with a standalone budget line item that informs the MBA-types "this is how much you are paying to Thomson Reuters," but I digress... .)
After a series of email exchanges, West's response as published on law-lib was:
Thank you for contacting Thomson Reuters ... Support regarding the online order. I am happy to assist you.
1. The system brought up the [X] shipping address but the person placing the order changed it to [Y] address.
2. It does show as paid by [attorney's] credit card.
Our system won't require them to use a credit card if they are using the firm's account number when placing the order. We don't have any way to block someone from placing an order if they are using the firm's account number.
"Today's impossible is tomorrow's reality." Apparently the Company's programming gurus are too incompetent to program a block for this stunt. Well, here's how to do it: He or she who authorizes payment to the Land of 10,000 Licenses, is the person who determines which OnePass account holders can or cannot buy something. Remember folks, any member of your institution might have more than one OnePass account. We are not just talking about folks accessing Westlaw.
How really how hard is it to tie each OnePass account's registration key to a set of permissions? X can buy stuff, Y cannot. Is that really impossible? Of course not, OnePass OneAss accounts are database-driven to gain access. Permission settings in the form of verified authorizations are not bleeding edge programming. It is not just possible, it is pretty damn easy. TR Legal just doesn't want to do it.
"The man who has ceased to fear has ceased to care." There is no doubt in my mind, that if TR Legal sent every law library director a link to a secure web destination to check off one-by-one which OnePass account is authorized to make buy-not-buy decisions, it would get our immediate attention. And you know why!
There's been no publicized follow up from AALL since the December 15, law-lib message that I have seen. There has also been no "Dear Colleagues" posting on law-lib (unless I missed it). Why? Well, perhaps because one of law-lib messages included West's "solutions" to this matter:
Send an email to the Firm highlighting no personal orders should be placed with Thomson Reuters on the firm account
Utilize “My Account” to check new orders
Periodically review Print Subscription List with Customer Service Key Account Team to ensure the correct print subscriptions are on the account.
"May I pass along my congratulations for your great interdimensional breakthrough. I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined," Customer Service person. My response:
Right, an email is going to "work." Plus, law librarians across this great land of ours are going to have to establish separate OnePass user accounts that better be tied to an non-institutional email account and hope that user populations remembers to use that account for personal purchases.
Really, hourly check, daily check, weekly check for non-order "orders"?
Well, first, your institution has to be a "Key Account" (read really big spender) to be able to contact someone other than 1-800-Nameless unless you know your Westlaw rep's pBook support team member's name and have his or her contact inform. Of course that assumes (1) the pBook person is still on the job and (2) you still have a Westlaw rep.
Oh, BTW, will my "Print Subscription List" include eBooks any of my OnePass account holders have licensed without prior authorization?
(You do know, you can ask for your "Print Subscription List," right? Just call or email a request to John Shaughnessy, Vice President, Corporate Communications - Legal to obain a 2012 Pro Forma price list. Oh, my bad, "corporate communications" means outside, not inside the Land of 10,000 Invoices. Well, it is obtainable if you know who to contact. But I digress... .)
"Asking is a polite way of demanding." So to hell with it. Here's another solution. Just tell TR to go take a hike. Need language? To avoid deniability it would be prudent to send some sort of notice like the below via certified, return receipt snail mail.
Chairman, Thomson Reuters
3 Times Square
New York, NY 10036
Re: "There is little time. You better come quickly if your planet is still important to you."
This is to inform Thomson Reuters, all of the Company's business units now and future ones, that only the undersigned representative of the institution identified in this communication's signature line is authorized to purchase any and all of the Company's products and services now or in the future. Under no circumstance will this institution pay for any purchases not authorized by the undersigned without prior advance approval by the undersigned. Unless otherwised informed, the undersigned representative of [insert name of institutional entity] is the only person authorized to place orders for any and all of the Company's products and services charged to our Thomson Reuters accounts.
This is also to inform Thomson Reuter that all prior purchases will not be paid for because the Company failed to verify that the "purchaser" was authorized to execute a commitment expend this institution's funds unless that person is a signatory to this letter.
[Optional: In the attachment(s), matters highlighted in red have not been nor will be paid because the Company failed to verify authorization in advance. Matters highlighted in green have been paid but also were not authorized by this institution. Payment does not imply after-the-fact authorization. It only means that we did not want to have to deal with the collections people in Mumbai. Kindly see to it that we receive a refund check promptly. Credit to our account is unacceptable. Of course, if your Company's something like $12 billion credit line is not renewed this summer on favorable terms, we may be willing to loan you the money at a nominal 11.3% per year interest rate.]
If you have any questions regarding this matter, you may want to check with your employees.
cc: James C. Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Thomson Reuters
If charges still appear on your institution's monthly statement, just refuse to pay. Hell, you could even forget about notifying the Company in advance and just not pay all such YourAss charges. TR will understand because we are all "partners," right? Oh, my bad, perhaps only officials at AALL and Thomson Reuters are "partners."
"We have no special constitutional powers, unless you consider the extraordinary rights accorded every U.S. citizen by law, in which case we are amply empowered to go about our business." If enough (and I doubt it would take too many) BigLaw (toss in BigGov) buyers "boycott" TRI's OnePass-YourAss scheme by picking up the phone or putting TRI on notice in writing, David Thomson just might grab Jim Smith by the collar to say
"Let's go back up to my office and talk about this like two reasonable beings."
February 06, 2012
The Value of Law Libraries and the Wise Latina
Last week I had the great honor and pleasure of meeting a big law librarian fan, Justice Sotomayor. I also had the great pleasure of hearing her wax poetically to my deans and faculty about how important the library is to the study of law and how pleased she was to know Richardson's librarians are teaching in the formal curriculum. Did I mention how much I adore Justice Sotomayor? :)
In our profession, we are often praised in private circles with phrases such as "I could never have found this without you" or "I don't know what I would have done without your help." Sometimes, we even get mentioned in a footnote! Sometimes we get a bottle of wine, or a bunch of flowers, but it is rare to receive the satisfaction of public acolades or, to be more direct, monetary renumeration. Because it is, afterall, our job to perform these services.
Nevertheless, despite all our good work, it is the library that frequently ends up on the short end of the budget planning. We don't produce revenue, we take up a lot of space, and we spend a big chunk of money. How do we justify our value?
Here enters the Lib-Value project - Phase III of an international project to develop ROI measures that demonstrate the value of academic and research libraries in concrete terms that administrators and the public could appreciate, i.e., monetary terms. A brief review of the work produced by this project follows:
- Phase I sought to develop a quantitative measure of the library’s return on investment (ROI) by tying faculty’s use of library materials to the generation of grant income. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the evil publisher de jour, Elsevier, developed a formula using data on the library’s budget, faculty grant income, and faculty surveys. The 2006 result recorded a return of $4.38 in grant income for every dollar invested in the library.
- Phase II investigated the amount of competitive grant funding universities receive when faculty submit grant proposals that include citations acquired from library electronic collections. Result: For every monetary unit invested in the library, the respective institutions receive an ROI of between 15.54:1 and 0.64:1 in research grant income alone.
- The most recent report, UK Scholarly Reading and the Value of Library Resources, was released by JISC this month as part of Phase III of the project. According to JISC:
University libraries are saving academics time by helping them find quality material more quickly, says a new report.
Academics are choosing the library as their first choice for getting hold of scholarly material because access is quick, it helps them make new connections to related information and the library may be the only place they can access that material.
The report also considered how academics might fare without the benefit of libraries. It did not look good for our intrepid scholar. The researchers predicted that without the benefit of a library, scholars would find fewer relevant articles and it would take them much longer to find those fewer articles.
Now, I know you are all saying: Yes, we already know that and obviously the wise Latina on the U.S. Supreme Court knows that too. But now you can point to a funded study to support that idea and present it to the bean counters. With the budget planning season soon upon us, why not pass along this study to your dean? Or your senior faculty? Or your fund raising office? You might want to throw Phases I and II in there for good measure because I have a feeling the budget cuts are not yet over. (VS)
November 11, 2011
Changes in Library of Congress Management
On Nov. 4, 2011, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington announced that Roberta Shaffer will assume the postition of Associate Librarian for Library Services on January 3, 2012 in an employee new release. In a second employee new release it was announced that David Mao has been promoted from Deputy Law Librarian of Congress to replace Shaffer by becoming the 23rd Law Librarian of Congress on January 3, 2012. Congratulations to both. [JH]
October 24, 2011
Are We/They Worth It? Collective Bargaining for Public Employees
In the October 14th Chronicle of Higher Education article "Faculty Unions Ponder New Strategies in Changed Political Climate," author Schmidt reports on the largely successful campaigns in both Ohio and Wisconsin to defeat the right of faculty unions to engage in collective bargaining.
I was particularly dumbfounded by this quote from Connie Werkamp, the press secretary for Building a Better Ohio, a campaign organization formed to ensure Ohio legislation (SB 5) which defeated collective bargaining rights for public employees in Marc h 2011 was not repealed by referendum next month:
"The issue here is that these are public employees who are paid by the taxpayer to educate our kids at our universities. They are making good salaries and they get good benefits - often better benefits than those in the private sector."
(According to Schmidt, tenured faculty earn over $70,000 annually while the median household income in Ohio is about $46,000.)
Maybe I am reading too much into this quote, but the alternative to Werkamp's description would be that Ohio should pay their faculty less than what they would be worth in the private sector.
So I am a little biased because I am a unionized public employee, and I don't have "kids" of the two legged kind, but if I did, I would want their fine, dedicated educators to be well compensed for their work - if for no other reason than to secure their continued presence at that university. And, although this is total conjecture, my guess is that most of the tenured and untenured faculty members spent many years earning doctorates, masters, and performing field work, empirical analysis, and living a rather meager lifestyle. I just don't see many of us living la vida loca.
To be fair, the debate about collective bargaining for educators is just part of a larger movement to trim budgets and stem spending. Executive branches from California to Massachusetts are cutting staff, salaries, and benefits in an effort to stay solvent during the economic crisis. Public employees, like private, do have to shoulder their fair share of the burden; however, insinuating that educators are not worth their money is insulting.
There is always the ONE who gets away with "it," but most of us are dediated and hardworking and hardly feel overpayed. I am assuming that most of us "public employees" like to believe that we do make a difference in the lives of our students and appreciate being compensated for that hard work. In fact, a study published in 70(4) Harvard Education Review 437 (Winter 2000) compared standardized test scores to union representation found a statistically significant and positive relationship between student test performance and teacher union representation. (Do Teacher Unions Hinder Educationalal Performance.)
Summary of the situation: In Ohio, the legislation which undid the collective bargaining rights of faculty is going to be put to a public vote on November 8th. In Wisconsin, the legislation had a more colorful path. After being passed into law, a state court set it aside and declared it unconsitutional. Then, the state Supreme Court reversed the lower court and reinstated the legislation. In addition to the situations in Ohio and Wisconsin, there are five states that prohibited all collective bargaining for their public employees: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia. It is hard to believe that the 50 years of labor law history I studied at law school is being turned on its head.(VS)
August 19, 2011
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a TR Tax & Accounting Catalog on the Same Day as an Advance Renewal Invoice for a WG&L Print Title
I should add luckily both appeared before my wondering eyes on the same day ... that would be yesterday. While any regular reader of LLB knows that I am less than delighted with the editorial quality and pricing of many of the treatises TR Legal publishes, particular ones that were once published by publishing houses the Company acquired, I've also mentioned that I still find the editorial quality of some of TR's Tax and Accounting treatises to be very good, a bit expensive but I'm a buyer of some of their titles. So yesterday I received an advance renewal notice for one WG&L print title we still have on our shelves. Yesterday, I also received a TR Tax & Accounting print catalog. Guess what I found? Yup, the renewal invoice pricing was exactly the same cost as buying the title new at list price (no discount offered in either).
Has this always been the case? Frankly I don't know if I've been paying 100% of buy-new list price for renewing the few WG&L titles we have retained in our little county law library. But I sure as hell will not do so now or in the future. The WG&L titles aren't essential; there are substitutes available.
So I called the Customer Service number about this little issue and was offered an X% discount. After saying something like, "you need to do better than that," I was offered an X-plus% discount after being put on hold briefly. I emphasize briefly because I do not want to convey the impression that calling the 1-800 number for TR's Tax & Accounting division (whatever) was the sort of 1-800-Nameless experience many institutional buyers have had with TR Legal.
The X-plus% discount offer was a bit high but in the ballpark of what we have all come to expect from WEXIS for many, if not most, print renewals compared to buy-new list prices. I proceeded to ask the TR Tax & Accounting customer service staffer if I was going to have to repeat this call when my other WG&L titles came up for renewal. He politely suggested I contact my rep -- ah, when I was given his name, it did ring a bell if ever so softly. Yes, I will be calling him.
Is there a moral to this story? You bet. Hello, TR Tax & Accounting, make sure product catalogs are not received the same day advance renewal invoices are! Revenue stream that bad? (In this case the title wasn't up for renewal until December of this year). I did experience "sticker shock" at the renewal pricing, might have checked out alternatives, but also might have just paid it but for also having the product catalog in hand. Now, this is damn good "customer education and experience."
Also in today's mail from TR Legal. For some time now I've been wondering whether TR Legal's opt-out Columbia House Book Club had ceased operation. Or, alternatively, wondering if I just wasn't receiving any postcards because I've killed off so many West print titles in this Shed West Era. Well, I'm still a member of the TR Legal's Columbia Book Club! Oh boy, West's jurisdiction-specific 'key rules" for federal and state court rules is now offering bankruptcy rules as an additional pamphlet volume. My response is in the mail. [JH]
July 20, 2011
The Law Librarian's Bible: 2011 Edition of Legal Information Buyer's Guide & Reference Manual
Usually when you see a publisher's "Dear colleagues" message posted on AALL listservs, it is a push-back using a lot words to say nothing about institutional buyer complaints authored by TR Legal. Not this time. Of course, that's because it is not from TR Legal.
A number of you have e-mailed me to inquire about the release of the 2011 edition of the “Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual.” I am pleased to report that it will be delivered by the printer on Monday [July 11th] and will be shipped immediately to all our standing order customers. We are now accepting orders at nelawpress.com.
The 2011 edition of this Joseph Andrews Bibliographic Award winning volume includes reviews of nearly 120 new treatises and reference titles carefully sifted from among several thousand new titles published in 2010 and early 2011. It also includes completely updated bibliographic, pricing and supplementation cost data on the existing body of more than 3,000 legal titles. It also includes, where applicable, the costs of used titles on amazon.com. Now 815 pages in length, it reports on the continued double-digit price and supplementation increases of West Publishing, which continues to enjoy industry-leading profit margins at the expense of law libraries everywhere. We painstakingly collect all the data so you don't have to, and arrange it in a manner designed to save you time and money.
In no other publication will you find such a wealth of data to make comparative evaluations of legal publications. Whether you are in acquisition mode or cancellation mode, we provide you with all the data you need to sort out your options. It is the only publication on the market that gives you the unvarnished truth about the legal publishing industry and provides you with the information necessary to navigate its treacherous shoals. And unlike other legal information review media, we are totally independent and accept no advertising.
The 2011 edition is priced at only $156.00, same as it was last year. The CD-ROM version is also $156.00, or $80.00 when purchased in combination with the print edition. The CD-ROM will give you the ability to print out individual chapters or subject area sections for internal or patron use. We offer no free luggage, stuffed animals or other gimmicks, just honest, accurate and timely information on how to save your library thousands of dollars annually.
I also wish to announce that, after fifteen years in existence, Rhode Island LawPress has become New England LawPress, reflecting our relocation to Connecticut. A cover letter and W-9 will accompany each shipment to assist you in updating your records. We look forward to seeing you at the Reference Shelf/Basch Subscriptions booth in the exhibit area at the AALL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia. I also look forward to seeing those of you who will be attending the inaugural meeting of the Caucus on Consumer Advocacy.
Please visit our revamped web site at: nelawpress.com
See you in Philly,
The amount of work it takes to produce Legal Information Buyer’s Guide & Reference Manual annually is unbelievable. And now Ken Svengalis has added the Amazon used book feature this year. [JH]
July 13, 2011
"Data is to Information as Information is to Knowledge:" On Categorial Mistakes and Implementing Modern KM
"Last week someone tweeted a link to an article called “Who owns knowledge?” Fascinating title, right up my alley, couldn’t wait to read it. So I clicked away to the page hoping to find the answer to this esoteric question. Of course, the article was actually about copyright on legal documents, and it’s a great article, raising a very interesting question in this time of Super Lateral Musical Chairs. However, I was so disappointed to get to the end without a single mention of knowledge ownership. The author made a categorical mistake that is quite common, even amongst KMers. Knowledge and Information are not equivalent."
So wrote Ryan McClead in a June 28th 3 Geeks blog post titled Confusing Information and Knowledge. 30-plus years ago we debated this matter in library school during the "Information Age." The issue still remains alive today. The article, Who owns knowledge?, fails to make the distinction. McClead's post revisits this "categorical mistake" and ends with the following statement:
Knowledge Management is, I think, about helping your company take advantage of these new technologies to tell stories better and maybe a little bit about managing information.
KN in the Public Sector. Damn good point. I would add that KM is no longer important just in law firms and corporations. At least in the public sector, it is time for those law librarians who haven't done so, to engage their public sector agencies and courts. My hunch is many in the federal agency and courts sector already have, perhaps also true at the state-wide level. But it is time for county agency and court systems to move beyond in-house, one-off, reinvent-the-wheel KN systems (where they even exist).
I think it is up to local public sector law librarians to make this push -- even if it doesn't stay within their job responsibilities -- so that their user populations don't remain behind the curve. Certainly there will be resistance to change but KN is not a bleeding edge productivity solution. [JH]