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The Perfect Library Vendor by ProQuest

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This article presents the characteristics that would define the perfect vendor for the library (actually librarian) market. First, there's vision. Librarians need vendors who take the long view, practice long-term strategic thinking, and support that thinking with action and commitment. Then, there's goal sharing. The perfect vendor shares librarians' goals and, in a perfect world, that would mean sharing the goals of the perfect librarian. Third, there's universality. Perfection would demand a platform independence that extends well beyond building apps for mobile computing. And finally, there's friendly but firm. Librarians and other info pros love a vendor that loves them.

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									                                                                                                                                                                  InformationToday             7
                                                                                                                                                                    www.infotoday.com    June 2010




                                                                                                                With
                                                                                                                     Barbara Quint
                                                                                                                                              alumni to continue accessing products to

The Perfect Library Vendor                                                                                                                    special offers and discounts in postgrad-
                                                                                                                                              uate employment environments.

by BARBARA QUINT   |                           additional burden. As we claim how essen-       whatever is easy to get or convenient to
                                               tial good information is for good decision      deal with or most immediately profitable.                     Perfection may

I
      n my last couple of columns, I talked    making by clients, any failure on our part          For example, right now open access (OA)                 not be attainable
      about a perfect product: the ideal       in spotting emerging futures and adapt-         and open web data are out of the loop in
      ebook. The concept of perfection has     ing to them (if not entirely successfully, at   most information services provided for the                     but seeking to
sung its siren’s song, and I find myself       least energetically) damages our profes-        library market. But it’s that data that many                      attain it may
humming the tune.                              sional reputation and the public perception     library patrons seek and expect to find. So
    You remember the mythological tale         of our value. Physician, heal thyself.          a perfect vendor would hustle and get it to                  still constitute a
of the siren’s song luring sailors to their                                                    make itself and library clients look good.                        divine policy.
deaths on the rocks. Still, Ulysses man-                                                       Archiving the digital-only content from
aged to survive even after hearing the
                                               The Process of Sharing Goals                    publication websites is another example
tune. He stuffed wax into his crew’s ears          Then, there’s goal sharing. The perfect     of the same need to make the library’s col-       Basically, when an academic
and made sure he was tied to the mast.         vendor shares our goals and, in a perfect       lection of sources look perfect, complete,     librarian decides to license an information
Since the crew couldn’t hear his cries to      world, that would mean sharing the goals        comprehensive, and worth the license fees.     service for a campus, the primary motive
be set free any better than the song of the    of the perfect librarian. All librarians and                                                   (not the only one, but the primary) is its
sirens, everything ended well.                 info pros seek to provide clients with the                                                     value in serving curricular goals. After the
    Well, I don’t think I need worry about     best information possible to meet their
                                                                                               Promoting Universal Access                     service arrives on campus, the librarians
rope burns or advertiser approval. As a        needs. In a perfect world, we would pro-           Third, there’s universality. Perfection     may often put considerable time, resources,
wise woman once wrote, “Truth can be           vide everyone with the best information,        would demand a platform independence           and energy in educating and promoting
costly, but in the end it never falls short    not just the immediate client constituency.     that extends well beyond building apps for     that service with students. But if the stu-
of value for the price paid.” Perfection       And commitment to this end, whether uni-        mobile computing. It demands servicing         dents have no obvious way to continue
may not be attainable but seeking to at-       versal or even constituency-bound, means        the needs of end users throughout their        accessing that service after graduation,
tain it may still constitute a divine pol-     doing whatever is needed, not just what is      lives and across their ranges of interests.    what was the point of it all?
icy. As poet Robert Browning aptly said,       familiar. The perfect vendor would go after     For example, the perfect vendor selling to        Frankly, even today in an imperfect
“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his       whatever content is needed and, at the          the academic market would support any          world, I would see this as a deal breaker
grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”                very least, all the content available. They     and all bridges to its services postgrad-
    So in this world of ours and the loom-     would not just limit content gathering to       uation, from contracted permission for                             (continued on page 8)
ing second decade of the third millen-
nium, what characteristics would define
the perfect vendor for the library (actu-
ally librarian) market?                                           N e w s B r e a k

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