What makes a “good” vendor?

Deciding the criteria for a “good” vendor is a personalized and complicated question to answer. The needs and priorities of libraries vary tremendously even in the (relatively!) small world of law libraries. While the exact importance of factors may vary, I suggest that these are items we should be reviewing when we review vendors:

  • Product. Does the product fill a need? Does this item (print subscription, database, service) fill the need that still exists? Are there other alternatives? Changes in library staff, leadership, law school program changes, technology, and the marketplace make it useful to re-examine a product’s need in your library.
  • Cost. Sometimes cost will be an absolute number while other times it is best expressed as cost per use.
  • Usage. Is this item used by most of the first year class? By an entire upper-level writing course? By a single faculty member for scholarship? Although these questions may appear to be framed as “good” to “bad”, maybe that resource is key to that single faculty member’s scholarship. How much weight to place on this factor will vary depending on budgetary needs, however even low-use items may be of great importance to key members of the law school community.
  • Vendor commitment to equity and social justice. How committed is the vendor to diversity, equity, and inclusion? Is this surface-level commitment via social media or are there concrete steps taken by the company? See earlier posts on this blogs for some great examples of vendor action in this area.
  • Customer service. What happens when things go wrong? Flexibility can also fall into this category

Finding a balance between these factors can be tricky. What about a great product with poor customer service? An expensive product with low usage? There are many tricky questions we could ponder. However, this small blog post is simply a reminder against not examining any factors and thinking the scariest phrase in all of collection development: “we’ve always done it this way”.

Project COUNTER Survey

Project COUNTER is soliciting feedback from libraries via a new survey:

We aim to improve the usage statistics that consortia and libraries receive from publishers and vendors and would like to hear from them about their requirements and priorities.

An online survey is available so that you can tell us your views. The survey will take around half-an-hour to complete. Attached for download is a PDF of the survey to enable data consultation before the online survey is completed.

We realise that we are asking libraries and consortia for some considerable input, but the information provided will enable us to improve the utility of COUNTER usage statistics.

The online survey can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/YNL9YFX.

For what it’s worth, I was able to complete the survey in ten minutes.

Thank you to Margie Maes for bringing this to my attention.

Best Practices in Acquiring, Interpreting, and Applying Usage Statistics

NISO/NASIG Joint Webinar: Playing the Numbers: Best Practices in Acquiring, Interpreting, and Applying Usage Statistics

Date: May 21, 2014

Time: 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)

Event webpage: http://www.niso.org/news/events/2014/nasig/



In a time of shrinking budgets and growing reliance on electronic resources, the collection and analysis of usage statistics has become a staple of the library world. But while usage statistics may be ubiquitous, many librarians still struggle with the best methods of interpreting the data. The ability to effectively understand and apply usage data is an important skill for librarians to master as they attempt to analyze their collections and justify their expenses to administrations.

This webinar, jointly presented by NISO and NASIG, will highlight the ins and outs of COUNTER, as well as discuss the process of analyzing the data once harvested.


· COUNTER Update: Release 4 of the COUNTER Code of Practice for e-Resources – Peter Shepherd, Project Director, COUNTER

· Integrating COUNTER Statistics within the Information Workflow – Oliver Pesch, Chief Product Strategist and Senior Vice President, EBSCO Information Services

· Usage in the Eye of the Beholder: Developing Academic Library Usage Reports that Meet the Needs of Your Institution – Jill Emery, Collection Development Librarian, Portland State University Library


Registration is per site (access for one computer) and closes at 12:00 pm Eastern on May 21, 2014 (the day of the webinar). Discounts are available for NISO and NASIG members and students. NISO Library Standards Alliance (LSA) members receive one free connection as part of membership and do not need to register. (The LSA member webinar contact will automatically receive the login information. Members are listed here: http://www.niso.org/about/roster/#library_standards_alliance. If you would like to become an LSA member and receive the entire year’s webinars as part of membership, information on joining is listed here: http://www.niso.org/about/join/alliance/) All webinar registrants and LSA webinar contacts receive access to the recorded version for one year.

Visit the event webpage to register and for more information: http://www.niso.org/news/events/2014/nasig/

AALL Program Preview: Understanding Vendor Statistics

Over the next couple days, CRIV will be highlighting some of the vendor relations-themed offerings at AALL in Seattle….

A1: Making Sense of the Numbers: Understanding Vendor Statistics
Time: 11:15am – 12:15pm
Location: 4C1-2

Online usage statistics can be deceptively straightforward. Before relying on them to make decisions, you must fully understand what the column headers mean, how data is collected, and how local configurations affect the data. Participants will review statistics tables available from common data providers such as Lexis, Westlaw, Serials Solutions, Gale, HeinOnline, Onelog, and Lookup Precision.

Takeaway 1: Participants will understand the three most common terms found in aggregator- and vendor-supplied statistics.

Takeaway 2: Participants will be able to identify at least two ways in which Internet Protocol (IP) and proxy configurations affect the data in aggregator- and vendor-supplied statistics.

Takeaway 3: Participants will know at least three key elements of the COUNTER statistics reporting standards and protocols.

Who should attend: Library staff who need to track and evaluate statistical data to make better informed collection development, customer use, and funding decisions

Track(s): Information Technology, Reference, Research and Client Services, Collection Development and Cataloging.

Suzanne R. Graham, Cataloging Services Librarian, University of Georgia School of Law Library
Jean P. O’Grady, Director of Research Services, DLA Piper
Jacob Sayward, Head of Electronic Services, Fordham Law Library

Usage Statistics

Librarians have been requesting usage statistics from vendors since electronic databases became prevalent among research tools.  While the cooperation of legal vendors to supply figures still varies somewhat, there appears to be a trend toward providing the information.  Last May, CRIV Blog asked why legal vendors have been slow to become COUNTER Compliant.  The list of vendors currently registered can be found at this web site.  Some prominent vendors of legal databases and library services are registered, including: Berkeley Electronic Press, de Gruyter, Cambridge University Press, Gale Cengage, OCLC, Oxford University Press, ProQuest, Taylor & Francis Online, and Thomson Reuters, though some have not yet undergone audits for 2011 or 2012.

            For the librarian, the upcoming AALL session at the annual meeting, A1: Making Sense of the Numbers: Understanding Vendor Statistics, should help us use these statistics to build and maintain collections.  For an interesting take on how collecting electronic statistics may benefit vendors, visit the Krafty Librarain blog to review the entry, Usage Stats: Are They a Double Edged Sword?