West Marketing Message Urges Bypass of Law Librarians
After online protests, vendor issues apology
Lynn Blumenstein -- Library Journal, 08/25/2009
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- Librarian gets West email about cutting out librarians
- West rep acknowledges mistake
- Could West make amends by participating in Price Index?
Thomson-West, for the second time this summer, has found itself in conflict with some of its major customers, law librarians. As reported on the LAW-LIB discussion list, West sent an email to customers urging them to save time by bypassing their librarians and use West products directly.
The message posted by Janice Kelly read: "Are you on a first name basis with the librarian? If so, chances are, you're spending too much time at the library. What you need is fast, reliable research you can access right in your office. And all it takes is West®."
Kelly offered a query: “Do you find it objectionable or I being overly sensitive?” Responses were uniformly negative, ranging from “extremely objectionable,” “appalling and I will let them know,” to “I am still in shock reading this.”
West issues apology
These reactions prompted an apologetic reply to the list from Anne Ellis, senior director, library relations, Thomson Reuters, who acknowledged that the message was a mistake. “I've talked to the people behind the e-mail and can assure you that they meant no harm." she wrote. "They now understand that the marketing piece was in poor taste and I have been assured that this will not happen again.”
“It's important that you understand that this does not reflect in any way how West feels about and values librarians,” Ellis insisted, adding diplomatically, "I'm on a first-name basis with more librarians that I can count, and I'm proud to know every one of them."
The back story
Last month, the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) spurned West’s conference sponsorship because the vendor refused to provide pricing information for AALL’s Price Index for Legal Publications.
One commenter on the thread today saluted Ellis for a sincere apology and suggested that, if West wants to make further amends to librarians, it could take a "a fresh look at cooperating" with the Price Index.
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