December is a time for generous thoughts, and maybe a good time to take a different look at librarian-vendor relationships. I admit to having my share of vendor frustrations, and I’m certain some vendors would express mutual feelings toward me, were it not bad for business. This time of year, though, I’d like to focus on what vendors have done for me and some of my colleagues. Sure, there is an element of public relations with an eye to future sales, but there is also commitment on the part of vendor employees to do a good job and provide services to their customers above and beyond the expected.
I begin with a nod to vendor sponsorship at AALL, SIS, and Chapter meetings. I have feasted on their dollar often enough. And each year as I gather my materials for AALL, I watch for my BNA map of the city which is my lifeline to exploring the area. These same vendors have also supported individual library events such as boot camps, CLE’s, and student trainings. I have put out my begging hand to my reps, and when they could, they came through for me with money or give-aways.
We have some examples of more individual attention, too. Dick Spinelli, from Hein, is known for sorting through materials he stores in his own home to supply it to requesting libraries. At an AALL session several years ago, I heard Deb Quentel from CALI define her five-minute rule, which went something like, “If you can’t figure out your problem in five minutes, give me a call, day or night.” It struck me as exceptional at that time, and I have found since then that it works. Our Lexis rep recently provided free ebooks for demonstrations to faculty, students, and the local bar association. Another librarian reports that her Lexis rep went out of her way to run down a price list of realistic costs for solo attorneys. Lexis allowed us access to their archived hard copies library for resources that we were unable to retrieve in their electronic database. Lexis and Westlaw have both allowed students to pool reward points for disaster relief, providing an opportunity for students to give to the community even in their financially-restricted circumstances.
These examples are just the tip of the wintry iceberg. There are plenty more out there, I’m sure. It would be great to give your vendors credit for their efforts, so let us know if you have good stories to share.