Common Stacks Episode 019: Why Library Lever?


Episode 019: Why Library Lever?

In this episode we chatted about the traditional consortial model, and how what we have built at Library Lever is different. Listen to the episode above, or check out the transcript below.

Heather Teysko  (00:05):

Hello and welcome to the Common Stacks Podcast. This is the show that brings together professionals from within the library world, as well as interesting experts from other professions to engage in discussions around the issues affecting libraries, and looking at the ways in which libraries are dispelling the myth of, well, this is how it's always been done. I'm your host, Heather Teysko. This is episode 19, and it's Heather, Dre and I talking about the historic consortium business model and what makes what we're doing at Library Lever different. And of course, this podcast is by Library Lever. We're a brand new buying club. We negotiate vendor discounts on library products and services, specifically seeking out new and innovative mission driven companies, offering services for both public and academic libraries. And we have a unique client wellness program that ensures that our member libraries are seeing value and usage of their resources. Part of that wellness program includes access to our growing Library, Lever Academy, a suite of professional development tutorials designed to educate and support library staff on topics including secondary trauma, stress grant writing, conflict resolution, library marketing, and more. Learn more about, or you can just keep listening to this podcast.

Heather Teysko (01:24):

Heather, we are talking today about why Library Lever is different.

Heather Dray (01:30):


Heather Teysko (01:30):

Yes. You and I both have a lot of experience working at consortium and we know there's like a traditional model, and then there's what we are building. So why don't we talk about what we are building first, and then we can talk about what makes that different.

Heather Dray (01:46):

That's a great idea.


Heather Teysko (01:48):

Okay, Perfect. We're building something where you don't pay participation fees for each subscription, so you just pay a one time joining fee. From a strictly financial perspective, this is a little bit different than how other buying clubs slash consortium work. Right?

Heather Dray (02:07):

I think a main one of the main benefits of Library Lever is we pass a hundred percent of our vendor partners savings their promotion for our membership directly onto the library. Meaning that historically that's how buying clubs or consortium make their money is in the margins of those discounts,

Heather Teysko (02:33):


Heather Dray (02:35):

So we don't do that. Whatever the, the vendor is offering, that's what we pass on directly to our libraries. That's not how Library Lever makes our, we make our money by coming up with creative plans with our vendor partners, meaning that they carry more of that burden, but they're willing to work with us in different ways and they benefit from our strategy as well. So, and that has almost everything to do with TE here because she is promoting those great resources using social media, using podcast really generating interest in non-traditional way

Heather Teysko (03:19):

While Andre's doing the email outreach and doing all of that stuff, building these lists and doing course mapping. That's something that's really interesting too, seeing how all of our different materials, resources can map with academic courses could be used specifically so that libraries know like, Okay, when I'm getting Genius Academy, I can use it in this class, talk to this professor about it for that class. That's something really unique too that I don't know that every other consortium slash buying club does. When you think about buying clubs in general, like the model has always been almost like Costco, right? Where you pay a membership fee to join, like you pay membership fee to join at Costco, and then you get to buy stuff at a discount, and you get to, in theory, save money because you're buying it a discount. And where Costco makes their money is they make their money from the membership fees that come in, but also then taking percentages. When you buy a 72 pack of waffles and you pay 10 bucks for that, maybe, you know, eight of that goes Togo and two goes to Costco, right? I mean, am I getting this right? Yes. Yep. Right. And so where library Lever is different is you just pay once and then you don't pay that additional fee. So it almost makes me think about like budgeting and stuff. It's, it's weird because libraries never necessarily saw that fee that they were being charged.

Heather Dray (04:48):

Right? Exactly.

Heather Teysko (04:50):

Exactly. But they will wind up saving money with us because we're not charging those extra fees and it's fees. They might not even have been aware that they were paying. Right.

Heather Dray (04:59):

That's right. And, and the other things, the other thing libraries may not have been aware of is traditionally buying clubs or consortia are volume brokers, meaning that vendors won't engage, won't offer a discount unless the coor brings you hundreds of customers. Their way we're different in that way is that we've partnered with vendors that just by virtue of being a member of Library Lover, whether you're one library or consortium of libraries, you realize a discount. So that's the other difference here is we're not necessarily, you know, trying to, to bring huge numbers to our vendors. That's not what is attractive to them about us. They're really interested in our shared mission of getting their great resources and libraries and of providing libraries, individual libraries with incentives to do just that.

Heather Teysko (05:58):


Heather Dray (05:59):

So that's another, I think huge point is that we don't have to, Library Lever doesn't have to wait to build a membership of thousands of libraries before our members can start realizing those savings.

Heather Teysko (06:13):

Right. Right, right, right. And that also makes me think about the types of vendors that we're working with too, because like a lot of times, you know, certain, there's certainly like legacy pricing and there's certainly, you know, this, these sorts of mindsets. But we're, we're going with vendors largely, like our expertise is really working with these vendors that are new to the market, bringing them to the market, and they are willing to, to work with us in these creative ways because they want our knowledge and the information we have about how to work with libraries. They want the creative stuff we're doing. Can you talk to me a little bit more about like, that? Let's, let's riff on that.

Heather Dray (06:50):

Yeah. So we, we have partnered with vendors at our new in the space, or perhaps they, you know, had great success selling into public libraries, but their content really does lend itself to academics as well. So we're helping them you know, get in front of those academic libraries so they can really benefit from these incredible, the content, incredible resources. So they're, they're also vendors that are, you know, not tied into the historical pricing models that most vendors have locked into any, They're not necessarily pricing based on ft. Or if they are, they're, they're more flexible with that, you know, they have payment out options for subscription and, and purchase. So they're flexible. They really do want libraries to have access to their resources. They don't wanna have anything, you know, getting in the way, like West Red Tape. They really wanna get their content into libraries in front of learners. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And the other thing I would say is they're, they're also not just about making a sale. They're passionate about their products and they want them to be used. So that's the other, I think key differentiator is they're, they're working with us and allowing us to engage with the library and usage driving activities with the vendor, but also on the vendor's behalf.

Heather Teysko (08:21):


Heather Dray (08:22):

And that's where you know, vendors like Niche Academy, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So that's just one great example of a, a company that's super flexible. They want libraries to have this learning platform. They're passionate about library staff as well as library users having access to great education. And, and of course we're, we're so sold on it that we're our customer affairs, right? And the, one of the key benefits of Library Lever is all of our members can benefit from our Library, Lever Academy, meaning just by virtue membership, you, your staff is able to benefit from those professional development courses in our academy that's powered by Nation. So I think that's a great benefit. And I don't, you know, I don't know of any other buying that consortium that's really focusing that much on both product usage and adoption and really getting those resources embedded on campus, but also investing in the, the health and development of library staff.

Heather Teysko (09:25):

Yeah, well that, yeah, it's interesting because there are groups that have training departments or something, but it's not part of what you get by being in that group. So, and we're building that out. We're adding new content all the time. I was thinking about, you know, in my experience working at a consortium, we would do a vendor deal and we would negotiate a contract and then we would roll it out and we would get some orders and we would put it through to the vendor and we might help onboard like a little bit, get some IP addresses, send some stuff up, and then that was like it for a year with that vendor, right? So until renewals, So like, what, what are we doing? What are we doing, Heather, that's different.

Heather Dray (10:09):

So a, a key differentiator is our focus on wellness for both our customers and our vendors. So what that means is we have quarterly wellness check-ins with both, both our members, our customers, as well as vendors to make sure that we've done our due diligence, that we are the partners that they need us to be, and making sure that both are getting he healthy return on their investment in us. So that means it's not just, you know, a one time deal, Thanks for your money and we'll talk to you next year when it's time to renew. Yeah. We want it to never be a question whether or not a library would renew.

Heather Teysko (10:52):

Cause we would know that beforehand.

Heather Dray (10:53):

Exactly. So our goal is to work with both libraries and our vendor partners throughout the year to make sure libraries are seeing the return on their investments that they need to see. And to also, you know, get feedback from, from them, from their end users, really understand how this resource is working on their campus. And then be able to talk about that with the, our vendor partners that they're checking, so they're getting the information they need to make the changes to understand the trends, any challenges, and also wins that libraries are have. So I think it's really important to erase that kind of line that I feel is always existed between libraries and, and vendors and publishers. Meaning that really only a couple of people at a library will engage with a vendor and usually just a couple times a year, and we're really building something where we're, you know, all library staff at, at a library will be able to connect with, with the staff at the vendors and that you're a big part of that on our community, but also that there's not this strange line in the sand. Like, we all want the same things. Publishers and vendors are creating these amazing resources and this, you know, top the line content that libraries need, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and libraries fuel everything that vendors are focusing on. So, so really we all need to be in the conversation together. And, and that's, that's really what library level's all about.

Heather Teysko (12:31):

That's awesome. I, yeah, I, I think that's, and we're all about tearing down all of these kinds of lines, right? Cause we're not just for academic libraries, we're not just for public library. We're serving, and we're not just for geographical. It's not like if you're an academic library in whatever state, you get to join us. But if you're a public library in a different state, you don't like, we're doing this for all lives. What if you belong? Like, let's, let's talk about the idea of I already belong to a buying club or consortium regionally. Like what, what, what do we say to that if for people who maybe are, are buying stuff for buying club?

Heather Dray (13:08):

That's a great point. So, I I, I'll first say, I don't think our idea has ever been that we would be an or pro, right? Like, you either belong to this regional consortium or you belong to library for, for one thing. And a very important thing is we, we've don't represent this same vendor parts as other consortium. You know, we have, we have, we're bringing unique and different vendors into live. So really we're not in a position to be an or and instead of Right. Another. But I don't, I don't know that that's even necessarily what we're out to do.

Heather Teysko (13:57):


Heather Dray (13:57):

You know, And I think that our my schedule for libraries, both academic and public, is so reasonable. It's lower than any I've seen out there. And again, we pass on a hundred percent of the savings. There's no additional fees, service fees on top of any of that, and our members benefit from, from our academy. So I, I just think it's a, a win-win win all around, right? We maybe sometime in the future, you know, we'll work with some of the more common right vendor partners, but that's not what we're doing now. And, and I don't think, I don't know personally, and I'm only speaking for myself, I don't know where that's, that's where we want to even try to bring value to libraries. I think we're, we're trying things in a different way, in a different space.

Heather Teysko (14:54):

Yeah. Yeah. And hopefully then influencing, moving forward,

Heather Dray (14:58):

You know, and I think once all vendors and publishers see how this relationship can happen in a different way, you know, the way buying groups work with libraries and vendors, we can do it different. We can do it better. And I think once everyone becomes aware of that, once we, our libraries are enjoying and really benefiting from what we have to offer, that changes the conversation. And I'm hoping it, hoping it makes a dent in the industry all altogether. That's really my, my end.

Heather Teysko (15:39):


Heather Dray (15:40):

That's what we're here into.

Heather Teysko (15:42):

That is, that is pretty cool. So let's say I'm a library watching this and I'm like, Yes, I wanna learn more. This Tesco and Dre, even Tesco with the Covid, they seem like they know what they're talking about.

Heather Dray (15:55):


Heather Teysko (15:57):

I'm gonna edit that out, but let say

Heather Dray (15:59):

I like that. I think you should,

Heather Teysko (16:02):

Let's say that you're watching this and you're like, Yeah, I wanna learn more. How, how can a library learn more?

Heather Dray (16:08):

Well certainly go to our website. You can reach out to any of us there schedule time with, with either me or our founder, Rob, Karen. And of course they can catch up with you on all things social.

Heather Teysko (16:23):


Heather Dray (16:24):

And I think another great thing really that anyone can benefit from is the community we've established. You don't have to be a member to join our community or participate in our community. So I encourage everyone to do that.

Speaker 1 (16:42):

Want to learn more about Library Lever hop into our community or check out library and let us know, Get in touch. We're excited to speak with you. Thanks so much. And we will be back again soon.

About the author 

Heather Teysko

Heather Teysko is head of community and engagement for Library Lever, and she loves running the Common Stacks Podcast. She's been in Library Land for close to 20 years, with a career that has focused on technology and ebooks. She is also passionate about history, having built a website on Colonial American history in 1998 that got to #1 on Yahoo (when that was a thing) has been podcasting on Tudor England since 2009, and her podcast The Renaissance English History Podcast has a social following of over 50,000 people. She has published several books including Sideways and Backwards: a Novel of Time Travel and Self Discovery, which was negatively compared to Outlander in several Amazon reviews, despite the fact that it is set in a completely different time period, but the comparison still feels like an honor.
You can follow her on twitter @teysko.

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