Common Stacks Episode 020: The Library Lever Pledge


Rough Transcript: Episode 020, the Library Lever Pledge

Heather (00:07):

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. 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 20 and it's a little different because it's our founder, Rob Karen, talking about the recent changes in the consortium world, especially in the Northeast, How Coor wind up raising prices for libraries and how libraries can be part of the solution to a broken system through pledging support to library lever, which is completely free and not a legally binding commitment at all. Learn more Let's get right into it with Rob talking about the pledge.

Rob (00:54):

We're really interested in moving the market quickly in the direction it needs to go. By addressing a one time capture of contract opportunities. The consortium landscape is really shifted in the north northeast area and somebody has to step in to operate and make sure libraries have another option to look at resources and services. Library lever promises to step into that role and take advantage of this opportunity. But libraries really need to find an alternative, a second discussion point of, Hey, can you get me this deal? Are these terms correct? Library lever is that organization to step in, give libraries a clear second discussion of what the market, we promise to be very diligent about this process and work with libraries and vocalize what are the library community want, What, what contracts do you give us? That type of feedback and the opportunity ahead of us is tremendous. We've spent the last several months pushing into the market and the message is very clear that clients move the market and we want to capture that client feedback to be able to go down at the Charleston Conference with a set of instructions on how library lever can line up contracts and get them in place and really provide libraries with a viable option to renew for the upcoming 2023 summit.

Heather (02:36):

How is this different from other consortia?


Rob (02:44):

Well, I think there's a few conditions that we can maybe back talk. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. What was tremendously motivating for me in my career was going into a library and sharing with them products that were new, services that were coming, changes in technology and library has really connected the dots of, wow, there's option. Look at this option, look at that. And library leverage is committed to that long term. The market needs to have options not only from a marketplace perspective, but also from a product. You need to have the ability to buy from as many channels as you can and also look at variety of different products. It's really exciting today when we're sitting down with companies and working on price schedules with them, working on contracts with them, shaping their product pipeline and opportunities cuz we know how this space evolves and correcting that is an amazing experience rather than products launch and go into the market space and then go through these pricing failures and pricing corrections.

Rob (04:01):

Library lever is the opportunity to do this. Day one, first product launches. Being able, let's say, look, these are the best practices for you to be successful. Here's the contracting terms you should use. Here are the business rules and increases you should put into play. So taking new solutions and fast tracking them to becoming viable is really exciting. Vendors don have the opportunity to raise capital, put products out there and see what's happening in the next year or two. They need to be successful. Immediate, also, engagement. We need to see libraries focus their engagement in our community that's moving the dial. It's paying attention to where the funding goes and, and the investment goes. The power of clicks. To me, if we harness, when we harness the power of that's gonna move library lever in a direction that no buying club or consortium have been really put together.

Rob (05:05):

But it's a cultural shift, right? We need to tell librarians, Look, well listservs are wonderful, but the Library Lever Community is also wonderful and for a variety of reasons. One of them is by taking and capturing clicks and comments that influences and shapes them as people are not working to attend conferences or, or go to live events. Where is that voice heard of? The librarian not on the list serves anymore. We need to really surface the voice of the librarian in our library. So join comment, give us feedback. Let us know where your pains engaged are. Cause that's an area that we can influence and move and leverage third and fourth, I mean the, the other area to talk about and to be completely transparent is this industry is notorious to be making money on both sides. The membership side and the transactions that there's just no room for that anymore. Library should be paid paying a one time annual fee to gain access to an organization like Library Lever cause we're doing what libraries need today and that's putting together the platform for you to buy. We don't need to put any other costs onto the products. We can work with our partners regarding sales incentives and compensation that library lever makes for sales and training and outreach. But libraries don't have to overpay for resources

Rob (06:49):

And really the clarity has to be who's raising your cost. The difficulty in having that surcharge as a bottom line component is there's no transparency between whose cost has gone up. Is it the buying cost that's the buying club cost has gone up or is it the actual product? Cost transparency is key and library lever delivers that day one, your cost is your cost. You wanna get billed by the vendor. We're happy to let you get billed. The cost budgets. We understand, we hear it very clearly. There's just no money left anymore to support large stats. Library Lever has a small but powerful team. We can offset our needs with better technology consultants. I don't have to have 10, 15, 20, 40, 50 people on staff that subsidized through library expense. Cost should be cost. Our fee should be our fee. That's it completed.

Heather (07:54):

And Rob, why, why are you doing this? Why, why do you, what, why, why are you doing this?

Rob (08:03):

You know, it's interesting to look at the market in segments of either trends in technology or calendar year. The market today has the possibility of shifting once and for all in the favor of the buy side. <Inaudible>,

Rob (08:24):

The change in publishing articles, going to open access technology is thriving. Libraries have a one in 20 year opportunity to take advantage of what favors them. Now you have a certain space on campus to provide services for. The amount of opportunities in the market are tremendous. The technology is changing, but libraries need to go back to collection development. Libraries need to go back at looking and frequently asking, Hey, what are these trends? What's going on in my particular? Share that with us so we can shape how the future of my are affected. I can't think of a time that I'm more excited to be in this space than now. With machine learning, AI open access, we should be having all of these conversations along the lines of what are your open access collection? Where is your first AI research? That's exciting stuff for me, for the sheer fact that this has never been in our space.

Rob (09:39):

The amount of dollars getting invested into higher education and ed tech is so exciting that libraries need to really take advantage, push for their dollars to go further in. So it's, it's the stars have aligned for libraries to become now a technology leader on campus and regain that researcher position mostly because of technology and the availability of it's, it's really exciting just how much is going on in this space. We wanna advocate and push libraries to look at alternatives, consider second solutions, other products. There's just endless possibilities out there to reshape the market is calling for eager collection development discussions and moving those future state ideas to Nick. Take advantage of what's going to me. A particular concern that I have is the terms and conditions that were negotiated cumulatively are lost in this transition and took years of listening to the market to understand where those pain point were pain point were and then move the industry forward where everybody would benefit from, you know, this language is a little bit te and we're better off at this.

Rob (11:17):

And those dialogues happened because we were on, we were in the market every day talking and us. That's critical that the contracts, although they're signed once, they do operate daily, weekly, and monthly. And it's not the terms of use that are so important. It's the cost terms that are defined in these, the exclusionary language, the elimination of certain fees and dues. The 20 plus years of making those market relevant now have they could be going away and you know, to do hosting costs that don't have to be renewed that go away. It's like the analogy of a tree falls and you don't hear it. What happens if all these turns just disappear and libraries just don't have the historical benefit of looking back if somebody like library liver does not. And when we get these contracts in place, this, these terms are back in play.

Rob (12:28):

Exclusionary language, elimination language, there are plenty of terms and conditions that probably have gone silent last well, and it's our mission to bring those back and we need feedback. Give us what you know, what's happening for people. The thing that by far to needs to be addressed from day one as if a library wasn't given a clear explanation of why this cost went up, it actually boiled to the top of the list of, hey, library lever, this is a particular concern. Please go take a look at it. That's the top of our pile. Please send it. You know, we as a group have a singular focus and it is a difficult space, but as a space that we've spent a long time understanding the ebb and flow, we understand the personalities involved. We understand corporate hiring managers. We understand the technology library lever has shifted to accommodate what that means today in 2022 and 23.

Rob (13:44):

To your point, those organizations that were born twenty, thirty, forty years ago now are top heavy. They have administrators, they have legacy, they have, well this is what we've done. We should continue doing it. And if anything, technology should completely disrupt like it's done to library. We know what we can do cuz it's clear based upon the influence of libraries and really operating in a space where we have nothing to lose. We don't have a training program or 30, you know, consulting agreements that we have to be sensitive. We're here to make a statement that the influence that libraries have today is probably the strongest signal that it's been in about. If you look at your collection and a certain particular subscription you have is comprised of over 50 to 60% of open action. Well, we're here to have that conversation with you. Well, what are we gonna gonna do? How do we influence that? It's building this community together, having this discussion about, yes, we can do things and move the mark, but it has to be done with a clean slate. We have a clean slate. We, we have no margin to worry about other than the next six months is critical to get back, to move and to regain the influence that our and every year that the influence isn't taken advantage of. Look, the market continues to

Heather (15:26):

Think logistically or what that means in practice is library lever is willing to do steps outline for me what library lever is willing to do and then also what we need from libraries. So yeah,

Rob (15:39):

Sure. So the first thing we need is to build a list of companies that libraries want us to enter into a contract. And that should be surfaced by the prior renewal in which whatever subscriptions were increased the most, or wherever the feedback from the market was unclear of why your price went up. I suggest that we start with the now we don't have that information, so we're gonna have to ask the library community to engage with us and give us that kind of feedback such as, hey, I had an agreement for X, Y, Z, but it went up by 10%. That never happened. Or we had a multi-year agreement with this product. That option didn't present itself. I felt we were under a multi. So feedback is gonna drive which contract we know we need to sign up. The good news is that we do have a lot of institutional history here.

Rob (16:41):

So putting the pieces of the puzzle back together should be not only simple, but pretty quick to do. But we need to get libraries to surface pretty quickly to us, which are the contracts that were the most painful to renew in the last year or so due to either terms and conditions changing or price increases that went up. That's the feedback that we need to get. What we're gonna do with that feedback is start at Charleston, meet with these companies, present them with a list of libraries that have alleged to work with us to get contract terms and pricing back in place so there is a viable renewal option for them coming up. This, we know that timetable is uncertain at the moment, so there's a sense of urgency for us to do this quickly. We've made some travel changes, some business model changes on our end to get back into the industry to get back in front of vendors and now we need libraries to help leverage.

Heather (17:48):

And when you, you talk about this pledge, like what does that mean in for a library? Like specifically, what are they agreeing to tell me about that.

Rob (17:56):

So the pledge is, is for your future financial supportive library level. Your pledge is today to align and say, Hey, we're gonna work with library lever when they get this particular contract, which means the library is not obligated to do anything today other than to stand behind our promise of we're gonna have a contract with this particular company. And if we do, that library will be, be given that the opportunity to order or renew offer. So it's taking supply and demand and maybe flipping it or reversing it. But we're really doing something extraordinarily different. I don't know if this has been done before where we're trying to move several hundred libraries that were forced to make a change, weren't really given a viable option in my and was done pretty shorthanded, not giving libraries the time to prepare and fight. Well. We know it can be done.

Rob (18:58):

We know that the levers in the industry can be pushed to our advantage. The team at Library Lever has a tremendous experience in this space. We have long relationships, we know the people involved, but really the secret is no secret. The client really determines where and how their business awarded in this industry and library lever needs to accelerate. So imagine taking 20 plus years of market conditions, trends, product creations new technologies and trying to accelerate that in a six month term. That is the challenge in front of us. But I'm confident that this particular community, librarians understand the value of standing together, aligning together, and and really advocating for them. If we take a look at the industry today, I don't hear the voice of the subscription line. I hear a lot of lobbyists about science, I hear a lot of advocacy about than this, that, but there is nobody standing up and saying, Look, this industry is different. Technology has changed terms for library should be inventing. The library Lever wants to stand up and really present this as an opportunity for us to successfully negotiate another two decade. So the timing is rather strategic for this to happen. We just need the market.

Heather (20:33):

So what a library can do if they wanna be part of this and we hope that they will they will go to library and there's a form that they can fill out where they are basically agreeing, be part of library Lever. Once we get all of their, they're pledging their future support. So they aren't being invoiced now, right? They're not paying any money now. They're not doing anything except saying, Yes, we are behind you. Yes, we will renew through you if that opportunity is available. We wanna support you when you have those vendors. And is that essentially what they're agreeing to?

Rob (21:10):

Absolutely. They are pledging their support as these contracts get executed and made of. We're gonna navigate where we know there are some challenges, but really it's putting together incentive and opportunity to come back together, look at these particular products and consider a second renewal. On the great news about the pledge libraries will take is you're joining Library Lover. You're gonna get access into the Library, Library Academy. You'll be given to the access to all of our vendor discounts now and in the future. So you're allowing us to accelerate our operation, allowing us to grow quickly so we are primed and ready to serve libraries at a higher volume come this spring. So no cost to you, there's no risk to you. We have aligned a great call of vendors to work with whether we want to talk about streaming collections, streaming video, whether we want to talk about content, newspaper literacy, what's going on with your collection in open access.

Rob (22:21):

All of that's available today. Many of the relationships that I've managed for 20 plus years, I'm eager to pick back up. Those conversations were very consultative and very beneficial for all involved. So we're looking to become operationally effective very quickly and jump up to a very fast level of operation. So there's no downside. The worst thing you can have is a booking that might be 10 days from now versus five days because of the response volume. So sign up, take that pledge, let us move the market with your support. So we are prime and ready to go with alternatives.

Heather (23:06):

And then I just wanna ask too just any potential risk. This is basically risk risk free, right? Because if something ha like if we don't get those contracts, they don't have, they're not paying anything. A library doesn't have to renew anything through us, there's like literally nothing that's a risk for them, right?

Rob (23:23):

There is no dollar invested by the library. So from a budgetary risk, right? There is I do think that there are professional develop opp professional development opportunities to Library, library Academy to help libraries onboard new staff and get them the training they need. There's content discovery and collection development discussion. So from a dollar perspective, you're getting a tremendous value for your pledge. And that pledge has no financial obligations. Now we're ready. We're here. Set up our business sign contracts. Technology's ready to go. What we need is you, the li budging your support to move this program. We have talent, we have team we just need the market already. Let's do

Heather (24:18):

Thanks for listening. We hope we'll see you joining the Library Lever Pledge, which will give us the momentum we need to negotiate the best deals for libraries. Remember, go to library to learn more and show your support.

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.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}