Yer Doin it Wrong: How NOT to Interact with Vendors, Publishers, or Librarians

[This was more of an open discussion with folks from the floor asking questions or making comments. The presenters had a long list of rather leading questions about whether certain behaviors from librarians or vendors were acceptable. Frankly, I wish this session had more focus on tactics and was less of a series of complaints.]

This was a timely capture
“This was a timely capture” by Peretz Partensky

Speakers: Jenni Wilson (SAGE), Anne McKee (GWLA), & Katy Ginanni (Western Carolina University)

Ground rules: Keep comments respectful and anonymous (no personal or company or product names).

McKee thinks it is okay for publishers and vendors to make a fair profit. An unfair profit is where the burden is on the backs of libraries to support the publisher/vendor’s members or corporate demands.

Ginanni thinks it’s a balancing act between dealing with the devil and negotiating the best deal for our users.

McKee says we need to form partnerships with our vendors and find a compromise, including when it comes to fair profit.

Sometimes libraries will hang on to invoices for months because the vendor put additional licensing terms on the back. It’s important for the libraries to communicate to the vendor why. Ginanni suggests we also need to educate our accounts payable offices on the reason why the invoices should be paid in a timely fashion.

Ginanni suggest that if your accounts department or other have trouble understanding our business practices, the phrase “industry standard” can be helpful.

Is it ever appropriate for vendor sales people to go over the head of the acquisitions/collections librarian if they say no? Maybe only if they are being an absolute brick wall or “don’t like” you.

McKee says that librarians are too nice about things and we really need to approach our vendor relationships like a business. If it’s not working out with a sales rep, ask for a new one.

What do you do when a new publisher wants to charge hosting fees for content they acquired that has zero hosting fee licenses? Wilson says that is ridiculous. McKee says point to the license.

McKee says she now prefers RFI to RFP because there is no commitment to purchase something, and allows you to write a broader focus to not inadvertently eliminate relevant products/vendors.

McKee suggests that if a sales rep tells you they will lose their job if you don’t buy their product, then there is probably a bigger issue about their performance than you.

ER&L 2013: Internal and External Clients — Why Do We Treat One Better Than the Other?

Speakers: Dawn McKinnon & Amy Buckland, McGill University - Since it's difficult to infer tone in an email, you should assume all mine are sarcastic or bitchy.

We have pretty good outward-facing communication and support, but internally, we’re not so polite or explanatory.

Always reply to an email if a reply is needed, even if it is to say you can’t do it right now (or ever). Use the same pleasantries you would with an external client.

One solution is to make everyone give a job talk, which helps everyone understand a little about what each other is doing. Another solution is to provide topical workshops and general updates to help everyone understand workflow and impact on other departments.

Committees that combine staff from different departments/areas can help make sure that all the bases are covered.

Communicate! You cannot communicate too much, especially if it is important. Email lists, blogs, weekly meetings with management, regular open office hours, bimonthly recorded talk with the Dean, etc.

Pitfalls to watch out for: spreading negative misinformation, public shaming, and shoveling crap (i.e. typical librarian passive-aggressiveness, or passing the buck).

Libraries are about community. Service levels should be the same for students, donors, colleagues… anyone who is part of the community!

CIL 2009: Open Access: Green and Gold

Presenter: Shane Beers

Green open access (OA) is the practice of depositing and making available a document on the web. Most frequently, these are peer reviewed research and conference articles. This is not self-publishing! OA repositories allow institutions to store and showcase the research output of institutions, thus increasing their visibility within the academic community.

Institutional repositories are usually managed by either DSpace, Fedora, or EPrints, and there are third-party external options using these systems. There are also a few subject-specific repositories not affiliated with any particular institution.

The "serials crisis" results in most libraries not subscribing to every journal out there that their researchers need. OA eliminates this problem by making relevant research available to anyone who needs it, regardless of their economic barriers.

A 2008 study showed that less than 20% of all scientific articles published were made available in a green or gold OA repository. Self-archiving is at a low 15%, and incentives to do so increase it only by 30%. Researchers and their work habits are the greatest barriers that OA repository managers encounter. The only way to guarantee 100% self-archiving is with an institutional mandate.

Copyright complications are also barriers to adoption. Post-print archiving is the most problematic, particularly as publishers continue to resist OA and prohibit it in author contracts.

OA repositories are not self-sustaining. They require top-down dedication and support, not only for the project as a whole, but also the equipment/service and staff costs. A single "repository rat" model is rarely successful.

The future? More mandates, peer-reviewed green OA repositories, expanding repositories to encompass services, and integration of OA repositories into the workflow of researchers.

Presenter: Amy Buckland

Gold open access is about not having price or permission barriers. No embargos with immediate post-print archiving.

The Public Knowledge Project is an easy tool for creating an open journal that includes all the capabilities of online multi-media. For example, First Monday uses it.

Buckland wants libraries to become publishers of content by making the platforms available to the researchers. Editors and editorial boards can come from volunteers within the institution, and authors just need to do what they do.

Publication models are changing. May granting agencies are requiring OA components tied with funding. The best part: everyone in the world can see your institution’s output immediately!

Installation of the product is easy — it’s getting the word out that’s hard.

Libraries can make the MARC records freely available, and ensure that the journals are indexed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Doing this will build relationships between faculty and the library. Libraries become directly involved in the research output of faculty, which makes libraries more visible to administrators and budget decision-makers. University presses are struggling, but even though they are focused on revenue, OA journal publishing could enhance their visibility and status. Also, if you publish OA, the big G will find it (and other search engines).

Harvard & the Open Access movement

A colleague called the Harvard faculty’s decision on making all of their works available in an institutional repository a “bold step towards online scholarship and open access.” I thought about this for a bit, and I’m not so sure it’s the right step, depending on how this process is done. Initially, I thought the resolution called for depositing articles before they are published, which would be difficult to enforce and likely result in the non-publication of said articles. However, upon further reflection and investigation, it seems that the resolution simply limits the outlets for faculty publication to those journals that allow for pre- or post-publication versions to be deposited in institutional repositories. Many publishers are moving in that direction, but it’s still not universal, and is unlikely to be so in the near future.

I am concerned that the short-term consequences will be increased difficulty in junior faculty getting their work published, thus creating another unnecessary barrier to tenure. I like the idea of a system that retains the scholarship generated at an institution, but I’m not sure if this is the right way to do it. Don’t get me wrong — repositories are a great way to collect the knowledge of an institution’s researchers, but they aren’t the holy grail solution to the scholarly communication crisis. Unless faculty put more of a priority on making their scholarship readily available to the world than on the prestige of the journal in which it is published, there will be little incentive to exclusively submit articles to publishers that allow them to be deposited in institutional repositories beyond mandatory participation. There are enough hungry junior faculty in the world to keep the top-shelf journal publishers in the black for years to come.