Market Competition is the BestCase for Librarians
Despite some of the current critique, and you will remember similar comments arising when WEC produced a competitor product a few years back, Librarians are now faced with an increasingly fractured marketplace. And to be honest, I don't have a problem with that.
[And before I get into this too far, full disclosure, Stem has done some work with CLB. ... Take it into consideration. I write this blog from experience, don't ok my posts with anyone, and try to 'examine' things; but a full understanding of my viewpoint is important.]
For me, this is about market competition and choice. As a Librarian, I want both. Costs of these platforms are rising too fast. To the point where many firms will soon be faced with making an either-or choice. Not everyone believes this, but I do. And if Libraries can't afford to have all of these services available to users, then I want some competition for my legal research dollar!
Fast forward five years. If my assumption is correct, how many companies do you want to be vying for your budget dollar? Personally, I want as many as possible. I want them all with replicated content -- in the digital age, case law & statues are mere commodities -- and I want them to compete against each other, with varying editorial standards, speed to publication, and value added services.
The current system, as you all know, leaves a lot to be desired. Contract negotiation isn't fun when going up against a monopoly/duopoly. Look at your costs 5 years ago, and see where things are at now. A 50% increase? Bet you're close. Librarians haven't had a negotiating position in quite some time.
But competition & choice can change this. Don't like what's offered? Walk it across the road. Send out an RFP and let these guys respond. They're in business. They won't be offended.
Librarians need to be in a position to make cost effective decisions. Having all our marbles in one jar was convenient, but not financially prudent. Librarians also balance making a business case for legal research needs - in both law firms and academic settings. Competition will empower that position.
I also see strong free resources like CanLII as pushing the envelope and continually raising the bar. Publishers need to keep investing & improving, and free has an important role in keeping these guys focused!
I don't claim to know the future for BestCase, or believe I'm the best person to review it. For a fair shake, VLLB readers should link over to Simon Chester's post on Slaw -- coverage issues & requests for more secondary material integration are always fair game. But I do appreciate that this distinctively Canadian company has had the resolve to jump in.
Long term? As I've said, Librarians & Libraries should benefit from choice & competition. We also might just have a Canadian contender. Doesn't sound that bad, does it?
Labels: BestCase Online-Research