Vendor Colloquium: “What would legal publishers like to ask law librarians about their institutions?”

This portion of the Colloquium had each of the publishers raising questions that they would like to ask librarians about their institutions or about librarians themselves. The questions included:

  • Why does there remain such a disconnect between librarians’ perceptions about the quality of our customer service and our stated commitment to high quality customer service?
  • How would librarians like to participate in deciding what new products vendors will offer?
  • What is the preferred method of contact for communicating with librarians?
  • At what point is it “okay” for a vendor to contact the librarian’s end users directly?
  • How can vendors more effectively explain pricing to the library so that librarians can in turn explain it to their bosses?
  • How can vendors help librarians?
  • What are the librarians’ self-perceptions of how law firms view their expertise?
  • How do law librarians add value?

The discussion flowed across all of the questions while not necessarily following them sequentially. One question that went unanswered was when can vendors contact end users directly.

Librarians know their firms, organizations, or institutions outside their normal role as librarian and thus can help publishers contact the correct person or persons about a new product.

Librarians and publishers alike grapple with how to get end-users to attend training. Users don’t show up, preferring instead to wait until they “need to know,” and then they want just a bit of training on exactly what they believe they need. There may be opportunities for librarians and publishers to collaborate on developing training tools and resolving training issues.

The measurement of usage by the number of subscriptions or the number of searches may not accurately indicate the value of a certain title. An infrequently used title could be essential in answering an extremely important once-a-year question.

In addressing the question of customer service disconnect, a librarian suggested that part of it stems from lack of feedback to the librarian about the outcome of his/her complaint or suggestion. The librarian poses the question or suggestion and never hears back. A possible solution suggested was an ombudsman for each vendor: call this number and you will be connected with someone who will call you back.

This segment of the colloquium showed that librarians and publishers, sharing a common community of interest, have mutual responsibilities to seek understanding.

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