ARCHIVED: Vendor Liaison FAQ

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Vendor Liaison FAQ

What is CRIV?

The Committee on Relations with Information Vendors (CRIV) is a committee of AALL. Its members are appointed by the president-elect of AALL with the advice of the AALL Appointments Committee. CRIV's charge (the terms that define the committee's activities) can be found on AALLNET (see a history of CRIV in The CRIV Sheet , v. 31, no. 3 (May 2009), p5 ).

Why did AALL create the vendor liaison position?

While CRIV has done a good job over the years in addressing specific problems between vendors and individual members, larger issues concerning AALL and its relationship with vendors have not been adequately addressed in the minds of many of our members. This is not CRIV's fault; just acknowledgement that vendor/Association issues are highly charged and require more attention than a committee comprised of volunteers, most of whom hold full-time jobs, can address.

Since 2002, a number of special committees have grappled with how to best deal with these larger issues. The idea of creating a vendor liaison position has been considered many times.

In 2008, the Executive Board commissioned Penny Hazelton, a past AALL president, director of the University of Washington Law Library and the University of Washington Law Librarianship Program and a respected member of the law library community, to conduct an independent study, reviewing AALL's vendor relations history and interviewing stakeholders. In November 2008, Hazelton presented a report to the Executive Board, recommending that AALL go ahead with the creation of a part-time vendor liaison position compensated by an annual honorarium. See the Hazelton report.

Note: some appendices to this report have been withheld to honor the wishes of colleagues who participated in interviews with the understanding that the conversations would be confidential.

Were CRIV members consulted about the creation of this new position?

CRIV and many other interested groups, including library directors from all types of libraries, were consulted. The CRIV chair at the time of the creation of the vendor liaison expressed support and served on the search committee to select a candidate. The current and immediate past chair of CRIV also support the continuation of this position.

How was the vendor liaison selected?

The position was publicly advertised, and members were invited to submit applications. A committee consisting of Executive Board members and the chair of CRIV reviewed the applications and recommended a candidate to the board.

What is the role of the vendor liaison?

The vendor liaison's task is to work closely with AALL members, CRIV, the Executive Board, the executive director and AALL's president and to focus on the relationships of libraries (not librarians) and vendors at the information policy issue. The vendor liaison should develop an expertise in vendor issues that CRIV members, who have limited time on the committee and are volunteers, don't have time to cultivate.

What activities would the vendor liaison undertake on behalf of AALL and its members?

Activities may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Identify areas of weakness in AALL's management of library-vendor relations and recommend actions necessary to address these weaknesses.
  • Draft a comprehensive legal information policy for Executive Board approval.
  • Develop a full understanding of law librarian issues in all types of environments in providing legal information to their users.
  • Develop an expertise in legal information creation and dissemination and other relevant legal information policy issues as they relate to the business of publishing legal information.
  • Identify areas where improved communication would serve important educational functions.
  • Become an expert in the appropriate roles of a non-profit, membership association in the areas of information policy and vendor pricing issues.
  • Clarify for the members what those advocacy roles are and how they may be limited.
  • Create opportunities for vendors and law librarians to discuss and educate themselves on the information policy issues that affect both.
  • Serve as the Association's consultant on library-vendor relations issues.

How will the vendor liaison and CRIV work together?

While the vendor liaison is an ex-officio member of CRIV, he or she is not the "CRIV vendor liaison," but rather reports to the president and the executive director. The vendor liaison is intended to be a resource for CRIV, the Executive Board, and members. The Hazelton Report likens the position to that of the former Washington affairs representative, who worked with a number of AALL committees (Government Relations, Copyright, and ELIAC).

CRIV's role is to work on individual members' relations with vendors. The vendor liaison's role is to work on the relationship of library institutions and AALL as an association with vendors.

As one might expect, it is not always clear where CRIV's role ends and the vendor liaison's begins. As articulated in the Hazelton Report and the vendor liaison job description, CRIV and the vendor liaison should communicate regularly and consult the president and executive director to make sure they are clear about who should handle a particular issue.

Who is the current vendor liaison?

AALL's first vendor liaison, Marian Parker, a longtime AALL member and academic library administrator, was selected for the position in the spring of 2009. Ms. Parker submitted her resignation in July 2010. AALL has begun a search for her replacement.

Why has the Executive Board decided to retain the position after Marian Parker resigned?

The Executive Board believes that the vendor liaison position deserves support. Considering how strongly librarians feel about vendor relations, it is important that necessary resources are in place to help address their concerns. Given the scope of the issues related to vendor relations, it is not surprising that the first year was a challenge. Our goal has been and always will be to increase member satisfaction with how AALL deals with vendor issues.