Friday, August 07, 2009

Just for Reference Purposes: AALL & West

Here are Statements referred to in previous post and explanations about Price Index, etc., for folks who might not already know about these things.

AALL Statement:

From: Kate Hagan
Sent: Thursday, August 6, 2009 12:35:10 PM
Subject: [LAW-LIB:59662] AALL Sponsorship Policy

There was a recent posting on this listserv concerning the AALL sponsorship policy, so I thought it appropriate to provide you with accurate information on this issue.

This year, the Executive Board, at the recommendation of its Executive Committee, did not accept any sponsorship dollars from West. This was in compliance with the Association’s sponsorship policy that was adopted by the board at its April 2008 meeting and communicated to the membership on April 17, 2008.

The policy is as follows:

The Association reserves the right to refuse any offer of sponsorship at its absolute discretion or to negotiate with the sponsor concerning any aspect of a proposed sponsorship. The Association has the right to refuse sponsorships provided by business entities that do not contribute information to the Price Index for Legal Publications and/or comply with the Guide to Fair Business Practices for Legal Publishers.

The entire sponsorship policy is on AALLNET at:

AALL did ask West to participate in the Price Index this year, but they declined to do so. Therefore, we did not accept any sponsorship from them for the 2009 Annual Meeting. This policy does not prohibit West from exhibiting at the Annual Meeting or from advertising in our publications.

Kate Hagan
Executive Director
American Association of Law Libraries
Suite 3300

105 W. Adams Street
Chicago, IL 60603
312-205-8017 (fax)
The Anne Ellis, Thomson-Reuters West quote:
We’ve noticed some chatter on West’s participation at AALL this year, and wanted to weigh in to help clarify some points of the discussion. It’s true that AALL is not accepting sponsorship dollars from West for 2008-2009 because West does not participate in the Price Index for Legal Publications. It has been West’s position for many years that the retail pricing model laid out by the Price Index for Legal Publications does not accurately reflect the prices our customers typically pay. Our retail prices are easily and clearly available on the West Web site. However, we work closely with our customers to give them the information and flexibility they require to best plan their budgets and collections, and so we approach pricing on an account-by-account basis – which, by the way, is not uncommon in the industry. Our view is that whether an index is produced by a private publisher or trade association, more often it serves to confuse than clarify.

We were disappointed that we weren’t allowed to contribute sponsorship funds to AALL this year. We have worked closely with AALL through this policy change, and remain committed to the programs and issues that we have supported in the past – notably, professional development, diversity and scholarship. While we know we’re on opposite sides of this issue, there is still much that we have in common – especially in advancing librarianship, and supporting your success. I know I speak on behalf of West leadership and my Librarian Relations colleagues when I say that we hope to continue this important work together.

Please feel free to contact me personally at (651) 687-5019 if you have any question about this.

Anne Ellis

Anne Ellis
Senior Director, Librarian Relations

Thomson Reuters

Phone: 651 687-5019
And the Price Index, which caused all this foo-for-all: AALL for many years maintained a list of prices, year by year, organized by type of legal materials. The idea was to track the price increases over the years, not by publisher, but by type of materials. This way, I could write for my dean, that serials overall had increased X% in price over the last five years, while statutes had increased Y%, and digests had increased Z%, which explained why the library needed this budget increase. It was a very useful tool, and took a good deal of effort to maintain, but was very much worth the effort. However, some years ago, West Publishing began to argue that the prices put into the Price Index for their (very large proportion) of the items listed did not fairly reflect what customers paid. After a good deal of wrangling and arguing between AALL and West, West stopped entirely supplying any price information. Other publishers continue to supply price information. Despite Anne Ellis' statement that price information is available on the West web pages, it is not there in the way that the price index needs it. I went to and noodled around. I will agree that prices appear when you search a title. But you cannot get prices for updates, which is what the Price Index is about. It's not about buying a replacement set of the statutes, it's about how much it costs to buy the supplementation for the statutes that year. I think Anne knows this, so it's a little
disingenuous of her to write her e-mail the way she did. I will leave it to the reader to decide for themselves any more about the tone of the e-mails from AALL or from Thomson-West.


Marie S. Newman said...

Not only is Ms. Ellis's email disingenuous, it is also patronizing and condescending--"chatter" indeed!

Victoria Szymczak said...

The West hierarchy has lost all credibility with the academic library community. The only thing that they can possibily to is follow the advice that my parents gave me: Actions speak louder than words, so get busy.

I do wish that AALL had told West that they could not exhibit. I personally would have taken their sponsorship money and then thrown them out of the exhibit hall.