Library Maintenance Agreements

There is an interesting thread running on the AALL My Communities email list regarding West Library Maintenance Agreements (LMA).

From the email list:

Responses to Leaving Your LMA “Survey”

This posting appears to have hit a raw nerve in the US law librarian community. I received approximately seventeen responses from law firm, court/government, and academic law librarians. Out of the seventeen, two law libraries have already left their LMA contracts. But, many of you have contemplated doing so. Several of you mentioned that they decided not to cancel their LMA because they received as much as a fifty percent discount on their contract, or they did not cancel because they were concerned about the extra paperwork and hassle of reconciling invoices and monthly statements if they did NOT keep their LMA intact.

The common concerns I saw threading through the attached comments were these:

  • LMA is not flexible enough for me.
  • We need to reduce as much print as possible, but if we reduce any further we will not really see the value in our reduction.
  • We do not know the true cost of our subscription items with the LMA.
  • We do not want to pay for a print copies of materials included in our WestlawNext contract.
  • The prices are still outrageous.
  • The discount on volume purchased does not make sense.

I am all for collection re-balancing and prudent budgeting. I would prefer not to purchase treatises, encyclopedias, or monographs that are also in my WestlawNext plan …especially if the print does not appear to circulate in my library.

Lastly, it seems to me that TR and other publishers do not seem to understand that most law libraries cannot continue to purchase both the print and online (Westlaw) versions of all titles. We are reducing more and more print and need to maintain only the bare bones print items (statutes, regulations, some court rules and a few treatises here and there).

One thing is constant: change and prices going UP!

This email survey is interesting because it highlights an ongoing issue in law libraries nationwide. There is an overall trend to reduce print collections in favor of electronic subscriptions, but the publishers are keeping libraries bound to print with expensive and opaque library maintenance agreements. And as fewer libraries are purchasing print titles, the more expensive the print titles become for all.

Although there is an intrinsic value to a print collection, it is hard for a library to justify the exorbitant cost of print.


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