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RE: Unresponsive information providers

Without intending to make any excuses, I can offer one
perspective--response time grows as the length of the responsibility chain

As an information aggregator, EBSCO Publishing has contracts with more
than 1,000 publishers, some of whom require specific language in our
subscriber agreement.  When we are working with customers who request
changes in our license with them, if the issue is completely under our
control, we can respond very quickly.  If the requested change intersects
with a publisher's contractual arrangement with us, we may have to go back
to the publisher for an exception or modification of our agreement.

Another possibility is a when a customer asks us to deal with what we see
as a gray area, such as asking us to allow certain practices (e.g. ILL of
digital content).  This is an unsettled area with many different practices
by different publishers and with a high rate of change in those practices.
At times we have to give a conditional response, such as allowing a
practice except where restricted by particular publishers--requiring us to
notify customers about which publishers have such restrictions, not just
at the beginning of a subscription, but should things change during a
subscription. It is not trivial to set up a system of managing list of
customers with non-standard requests, accompanied by lists of publishers
with non-standard restrictions, implemented by a notification system that
theoretically tells the former about the latter.  In a sense, there is an
issue of corporate management bandwidth not so different from Internet
bandwidth concerns. More than ever, the companies that thrive will be
those with the greatest bandwidth for responding to customers.

None of the above excuses the failure to make a simple phone call to keep
the customer informed of the status of their request.  I certainly hope no
one on liblicense has experienced such unresponsiveness from EBSCO.

Philip Wallas
Vice President, Content Development
EBSCO Publishing
800-653-2726 x230
978-356-6500 x230
fax 978-356-5191

-----Original Message-----
From: Ellen Finnie Duranceau [mailto:efinnie@MIT.EDU]
Sent: Tuesday, March 14, 2000 7:28 PM
To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
Subject: Unresponsive information providers

I am wondering if I am alone in having great difficulties recently getting
information providers to respond to licensing questions, keep a
negotiation moving, and complete the process in a timely manner.  For
virtually all of our major purchases in this fiscal year, I have had to
make innumerable phone calls and send innumerable email messages over
weeks and months trying to get responses to our issues and an executable
contract. These phone calls follow explicit written documentation of our
concerns and questions, so that there is a clear paper trail to pick up
and put down. Despite this paper trail and many calls, in most of these
cases I have still not succeeded in concluding a license agreement.

Is anyone else having this experience? Do information providers have some
insight to share about this lack of responsiveness? Do librarians have
ideas about how to get these deals negotiated and completed in a timely

This problem did not surface for me here at MIT until this year. In
previous years, using similar methods, I was able to get deals closed

Any comments, confirmations, or alternative experiences would be most
welcome! Ellen Duranceau

Ellen Finnie Duranceau
Digital Resources Acquisitions Librarian
MIT Libraries, Room 14E-210A
Cambridge, MA  02139-4307
ph. 617 253 7562
fax 617 253 2464