It’s the little things – but we still want the big things too! A thank you to our suppliers

As we approach the end of this most challenging of years, I want to give out a few awards, call them Thank you’s, to selected organisations (and their representatives) who work with our library here at Brookes – the publishers, aggregators, intermediaries, and all those other players who comprise the academic publishing and information community.

As librarians, we have become hard wired to call out the liberties that some members of the aforementioned group take with us and our money; it’s rare that we publicly acknowledge the work they do for us and the support they provide in helping us deliver services to our shared users. As we knock on the door of the season of goodwill and acknowledge the real life perils and significant challenges of 2020, I’m going to seek to rectify that in a very understated and focussed way, and so in no particular order:

Thank you to Askews and Holts for rescuing thousands of our Dawson ebooks which were under severe threat, when Bertrams hit the buffers earlier this year. Your communication and execution of this rescue project was as good as we could have possibly hoped for. Please now follow through with high levels of customer service, innovation and ongoing communication with us over the next 12 months and we’ll enjoy a productive partnership in getting books to our users.

Thank you to Sam at Proquest who made some robust and evidence-based arguments as to why we should consider Academic Complete to supplement our ebook buying strategy, facilitated our trial just as the first lockdown was arriving and was prepared to work with us and his management on reaching an acceptable agreement. Usage has been phenomenal, but please do all you can to maintain the integrity of the product by reducing the level of withdrawals which is not only hugely disruptive but somehow ends up creating disappointment and goes against the spirit of ‘getting what you paid for’.

EBSCO shone like a beacon and outshone all our suppliers when it came to making sense of the VAT changes earlier this year. Quick out of the blocks to communicate what they were doing, they were just as swift to confirm our refund and make it available to us.Thank you!

I can’t mention EBSCO without giving a shout out to Costas for all his help with our partnership work and of course to Mr Richard Smart for just being so open and honest in all our dealings with him. Great ambassadors for your company, both – Thank you. As one of the big beasts of the academic library supply world, we look to your company to demonstrate the integrity that employees like Costas and Richard display, and not to abuse your position as the marketplace and number of suppliers shrinks.

Kortext outperformed all their competitors during the first lockdown in terms of their Free Student Textbook Programme and in making hundreds of ebooks available to our students at a critical time: responsive, accurate and attentive, you met a real need, and we appreciated it very much – thank you Carlos and team. We’ve not moved to the next phase in terms of spending money with you and we’ll continue to watch and wait until the conditions are right. Please don’t overpromise and under deliver against a backdrop of intense competition, and please use your unique position between publishers and universities and their libraries to help resolve the unaffordability issue linked to many of the emerging models.

I do worry about too many cooks over at Jisc’s licensing team such is the extent of the help from various quarters, all entirely well-meaning I’m sure. So much to do and so much more complicated than when I was doing it! Thank you for keeping the show on the road this year despite the obvious workload pressures and distractions. Ditto the JUSP team as we get to grips with COUNTER 5!

We’ve appreciated the reliability of our WorldShare library services platform during the last 12 months and the regular communication with Fiona, our account manager, who keeps us up-to-date on developments – thank you. We need the core system to be robust but please don’t lose sight of innovation around the edges. We are excited about implementing BrowZine and the LibKey suite of services from Third Iron, but as one of my colleagues mentioned recently: “Aren’t these the kind of services we should expect to see from OCLC?”

Of course, many more suppliers and their staff have helped us this year and my thanks go out to them as well. The small number of examples above are my highlights because they made a real difference to me and the work I do, along with colleagues, in supporting our users. We look forward to welcoming you back onto our campuses when it is safe to do so; I miss the robust exchanges, the sharing of information, the banter, the gossip! Until then, keep listening, keep adapting and working collaboratively, and we’ll strive to do the same.

Paul Harwood – November 2020

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