This is probably a bad idea.
I mean that two ways. One, I may very well be the only person interested in doing something like this and people looking at this project will think, “That’s dumb, Glassmeyer. Why’d you waste time setting that up?” Two, there is a great probability that this will cause me much more trouble and drama than it will ever be worth. And I’m really trying to stay out of the trouble and drama business in 2011. CUE THE MARY J. BLIGE!
Before I bury the lead amongst all my usual blog silliness, I’m going to just spit it out: I set up a wiki where librarians and other interested parties can share information about all aspects of the library/vendor relationship. It can be found at LisVendor.info . Which, handily, what I call it as well. It’s really a product of my own greed and laziness – I find that the more I get into looking at Library-Vendor relations, the more I realize that I don’t know. And I want a one stop shop to collect that information and learn from what others know.
Now for a slightly longer explanation…
About a year ago, I was having dinner with someone at the Computers in Libraries Conference in Washington, DC. The conversation turned, as it does, to the legal information duopoly. (Seriously, Gentle Reader…I am a HELL of a dinner date.) Specifically we were talking – or maybe I was ranting, the memory is fuzzy (A HELL OF A DINNER DATE) – about the secrecy clauses that Wexis enforce in library contracts and Carl Malamud’s efforts to FOIA and release this information from government agencies. I said jokingly, “Someone oughta set up a wikileaks for library contracts.”
My companion and I looked at each other and laughed at the silliness of the idea. And then became serious as we realized, “hey, that’s actually sort of a good idea.” And then laughed again. Then my companion became deadly serious and told me to not do it, but if I was going to do it, keep my name the heck off of it so that I didn’t get personally or professionally harmed. Because “THEY” would come after me.
Undeterred, I came home from CiL, detoxed and then registered the LISVendor.info domain. And then realized that I’m not a computer programmer. Between trying to figure out a way to set up the web site, getting settled into my new job and new region of the country (only 2 weeks into it at that point!), then summer conference season, then trying to figure this new professor gig and survive fall semester, then fall conference season and organization responsibilities… well, the next thing I knew it was last week and I hadn’t really made too much progress on the site besides having the URL point to a drupal install and many many broken iterations of the site.
As you may have noticed, Gentle Reader, I think about library-vendor relations a lot. A LOT. And one thing that I keep discovering is that the things I’m interested in or information I want isn’t really easy to find. So I end up having to spend a lot of time searching around and creating things the Legal Information Providers Merger Graphic. Or those HCOD Math numbers. I also keep realizing that there are big chunks of history and information that I just don’t know because I’m a newer librarian and I’m in a pretty small subject corner of libraryland. So, for example, when Steve Lawson mentioned “The Big Deal” in a recent post, I had hunt around and figure out what the heck he was talking about.
So that’s a major part of what I’d like the site to become. I want a place where librarians can teach and learn from each other on this very important topic.
When I was thinking of the wikileaks idea last year around this time, I also had percolating in my head a post from The Librarian in Black about Unethical Library Vendors that encouraged librarians to share their opinions on vendors with each other. Since not everyone has the time or energy to maintain a blog – and the blogoshere is scattered and hard to keep track of - I thought it’d be nice for there to be a centralized place for librarians to share this info – a libraryland version of the “Shopping for a Better Planet” book that I mentioned in my last post , if you will. It’s forward movement and a way we can all do something that could have some use to others – not waiting for organizations or even our employers to do something.
So, again, I don’t know if anything will come of this. It’s going to take a lot of work from a lot of people to become successful. If you want to take the idea and run with it and put it somewhere else I don’t mind. And if nothing comes of it, that’s fine too.
I set up a rough shell to get things started. I invite you to dig in there and get involved.