Libraries with Thomson West Library Maintenance Agreements (LMAs)


What are libraries with existing Thomson West Library Maintenance Agreements (LMAs) planning to do when those Agreements come up for renewal? Responses, arranged by type of library are quite varied. All names have been removed to protect privacy but we are especially grateful to the person who both submitted the question originally and compiled the responses below:


Academic Libraries:

1. We renewed our LMA but scaled back on our title list.

2. We are at this time continuing our LMA account. We did have a discussion as to whether it would be viable to break with the LMA but we didn’t think it would be wise at this time.

3. We are renewing our LMA. We have cancelled and added a few titles, but it will remain essentially at the same level. One of the main reasons we will continue is that the LMA makes handling West invoices MUCH easier for our accounting specialist. You know how much of a “bear” West invoices can be. We are even saving a small amount of money. Hope this helps.

4. I regret that we tied in for another three years
5. We don’t have an LMA at our library, but are considering it. I would be interested in seeing the anonymous response summaries.

6. We opted to continue the LMA. However, we did a lot of housekeeping first. We cleared out many titles and a lot of the stuff that regrettably got by us when we originally started the LMA. I think we are pretty happy with how everything has turned out – it just took a lot of work.

We are still planning on renewing our LMA for an additional three years, despite the uncertain financial climate. Our primary reason for doing so is that, once the LMA expires next year, any subscriptions that we continue on a non-LMA basis will be billed at West’s current 2009 rates. In other words, if we keep our subscriptions, we will absorb three years’ worth of price increases at a single go and undo all of the “savings” we enjoyed under the LMA. The rate of increase under the LMA was significantly less than what we would have experienced without it.

I expect we will take the opportunity to cancel unneeded subscriptions outright. In particular, I am looking forward to dropping second copies of reporters and digests and focusing down our extensive state collection.

Budget uncertainties spawned by losses in the stock market are going to be with us for some time. There will probably be some titles that we won’t be comfortable renewing for three years, but are not ready to cancel outright. Last time, we kept hornbooks and nutshells out of the LMA (then bought them all anyway). This time, we might also keep out any faculty subscriptions that may be cancelled as faculty retire or move around. Of course, the more we exempt from the LMA, the less our savings.

What remains to be seen is whether West might respond to draconian cuts on our side by either limiting the LMA discount or refusing the LMA renewal outright.

7. I did renew the LMA this past year, but not before I renegotiated the entire agreement, which included cancelling many titles. Now my state is going broke and I am wondering if I will have to cancel the agreement mid term, due to fiscal exigency. What a world.

8. I’m considering opting out. I don’t like being locked in by a publisher. In fact, I tried to quit ours midterm, pleading severe budget shortfalls as a reason. They wouldn’t budge. Things have gotten better in my budget, and we’re now less inclined to quit the LMA, but I’m seriously considering ending it when our term is up – just for spite.

9. We did renew our LMA earlier this year. We re-evaluated what we had and canceled the few duplicate titles that we still received. Our director doesn’t anticipate cancelling any additional Thomson/West titles in the next 3 years and he still thinks the LMA has value for us.

10. We just renewed our LMA in October. I wasn’t thrilled with it, but it gave us stability in pricing, and with our collection demands, and perceived need for WestPAC, we decided to renew and evaluate again at the expiration.

11. We scaled back extensively and only kept the titles we are sure of keeping for the next 3 years. Ours was tied into the Westpac agreement which we cancelled. That was too expensive to maintain. We are carefully monitoring our “list” which had caused us no end of troubles for the first 3 years and making sure that it is accurate and being accurately followed.

12. Our LMA was up for renewal last December and we opted not to renew.

13. We just concluded negotiation for another 3-year LMA. We had no option. If we hadn’t gone with another LMA, we would have had no choice but to make draconian cuts in our west subscriptions, i.e. reporters, statutes, and a lot of other stuff. Our rep and his boss really did yeoman’s duty in bring the new one in on budget. To say the least we are very pleased with the result.

14. We *just* made the decision not to renew our West LMA at the end of the calendar year. And, we are canceling a lot of West titles now-court rules, state reports, General digest, ALR, more supplemented treatises, especially if available on Westlaw.

15. We don’t quite know- we are the end of the first year of a three year contract. We think the campus president would have to declare a fiscal emergency before we could negotiate early termination, and that hasn’t yet happened. We expect to know more about our campus situation in a month.

16. We did opt in on an LMA in order to provide campus-wide access to Westlaw Campus Research at a reasonable price. We are tied to maintaining a small list of titles, three or four if I remember correctly. We were set to drop an LMA completely, but we felt like the offer was worthwhile when we looked at the complete campus picture.

17. Right now I’d say I don’t know. We have a 3 year contract, I believe. We completed our first year and took advantage of the annual swap period to take out titles and add some new ones in. But we won’t have to make that decision for another 18 months.

18. We don’t have an LMA, but we do have a WestPro contract tied to our Westlaw public access which is coming up for renewal. I intend to extend the contract, but will examine all the titles included in the contract to determine what I want to continue. The ability through the contract to determine future pricing makes it worthwhile to me.

19. We will be renewing, but are renegotiating a large number of the terms.

20. Our West LMA is up for renewal in November 2009. So far, the thinking, as far as I know, is that because we keep needing to cut print serials due to a shrinking budget, we will probably not renew. The single monthly payment has been enjoyed by the ladies who post our invoices, but the first year of this was quite a struggle and the first anniversary when we tried to remedy the problems of initiation with trade-outs was a bit of a struggle also. Earlier this year we got a new rep and the combination of new rep and trade-outs being behind us has eased the pain, but that first year kept us so busy with items West included on our subscription list that the after taste may still be a factor for the director.

Explanation: Because of their abbreviated titles that are such a challenge to match up with titles in the catalog, when we received their list and had less than a month before we were due to begin we did not go over the list thoroughly enough and ended up with many titles shifting from our monograph budget to our serials budget. (Numerous monographs that we’d asked NOT be on standing order each time we ordered them apparently (or suddenly?) WERE on standing order.) They also managed to drop subscriptions that we’d not asked to cancel. They’d also told us that Rutters Guides would not be on the plan. When we questioned them about the guides showing up on the invoice they decided they had to increase our monthly payments, even though that had been out of the question for anything we’d wanted removed from the list.

I do wonder though…if we were TRULY saving each year and inflation took prices as high as West said it would, how much of an increase we’ll experience when we do discontinue. If inflation went as high as they predicted then it should be a large jump, having accumulated 3 years worth of that increase. I also wonder if at renewal time West will renegotiate the rate of increase with libraries that do renew. We have not added new titles at the anniversary date so our rate should not have gone up more than the contract said (and yet the ladies that pay our bills say we pay more than the figure on the contract-that in the second year we were already paying what it said we’d be paying in the third year), but for libraries that added new titles at each anniversary it might be hard to gauge the increase on the original subscriptions.

21. Having locked up a significant percentage of our dwindling budget in our LMA account, and the “Public Access Westlaw” titles within it, we don’t know if we will continue. If we do, it will only be with significant changes in our subscriptions — things like the National Reporter subscriptions, Fed Digest 4th, etc. It’s just too large a sinkhole, and keeping things we can access online, just because not all of our user population can do so equally with our faculty and students is becoming less and less of a reason to keep doing so.

22. We were one of the first to sign on and we have already completed and started our new agreement. We had already pared down our West titles to only crucial titles prior to us signing the agreement, and we were offered a very nice deal. When it came time to renew we identified about $15,000 worth of materials that we didn’t need any longer. A few second copies and a few titles that were no longer needed by faculty. When we tried to make the cuts which about 17% over what we already had, we were told that we could only make 5% cuts to remain in the program. This was a bit of a surprise to me, so we made the 5% cuts and resigned. That is the only caveat to warn you about. They do supply a nice spreadsheet in which you can make cuts and see the percentage. It is really easy, however the amounts are not actual, but they just allocate figures so the real amount of the item is anybodies guess. It is working for us and we do like it, but again we had been making cuts for years and were down to essential titles prior to signing in the first place. If your library is not in that position, I would not recommend it.

23. We haven’t decided; it is on our agenda to review our list and the LMA right after New Year’s. Whether or not we sign a new agreement may depend on the “deal” West offers after we have pared our list.

24. Three years ago we resisted the West hard-sell on the LMA to the bitter end because we wanted to maintain the freedom to cancel titles at will. In fact, the LMA proposal got our reference librarians energized to examine our West titles and instead of signing the LMA we canceled dozens of titles. I would be interested in the results of your survey to know whether your peers have found the LMA beneficial, whether they plan to continue or jump ship.

25. We aren’t currently under an LMA. We just got a proposal for one, but it’s looking like we won’t accept. It basically comes down to the fact that we want to be able to cancel whatever, whenever. We have budget cuts forthcoming so we’re currently vetting all selections from our West invoices and will continue to do so for the next several months.

26. We will probably trim the subscription list some, but most likely renew.

27. We never signed on to the agreement. We found the sales reps too aggressive; the lists sent to us of our subscriptions hardly readable; and we heard some stories of libraries with incredible billing problems. We are now currently cancelling several West titles.

28. We renewed our LMA contract in the summer. But now the University expects all departments to reduce their budget and expenses.

29. West has proposed the LMA to us the past few years. The restrictions in the proposals we saw in the past, including limits on adding and cancelling titles, and a not very advantageous cap on increases over the term of the contract caused us to decline. We’ve also had “reps from hell” during those years, who couldn’t sell, or explain their way into or out of a paper bag, so that didn’t help. We were concerned, and continue to be concerned about the privacy clause regarding sharing information with our peer institutions. I hate that!

They have just come to us with a new proposal, which looks a bit better. We’ve recently cancelled virtually all the subscriptions for our second core collection, which reduces our concern about limits on cancellations. They’ve broadened, a bit, the permission to add titles. The “opt-out” clause for state supported institutions helps a bit as well. If, God forbid, we were to take a slashing cut in the budget, we could drop the LMA and cancel at will. The cap on increases still isn’t real attractive, but so it goes.

30. We have been told to do radical surgery on our subscriptions, but we are smack dab in the middle of a large LMA with West. We do not plan to renew.

31. Just some thoughts: Once you start an LMA, it is difficult to stop. Not because of West or the agreement, but because of the cost increases you will have to absorb.
In a time when we and our students are increasingly interested in electronic resources it seems counterintuitive for libraries to lock in print subscriptions. It makes sense for West, as a means to preserve their print business, but I am not sure the agreements are healthy for libraries. It saves some money in the short term, but holds back collection format migration in the long term.

I have to wonder how much longer we will all be maintaining print reporter collections given, at least in our case, how rarely the books are being used. Most of us have gotten rid of print digests, citators, and state reports. Print law reviews remain because they are cheap and P&T committees still prefer seeing junior faculty in print.

Firm Libraries:

1. We are planning to continue our LMA because we can predict the costs over the next three years. The increase rate is much lower than the normal increase rate. I cut out a lot of materials for this current round, though.

2. I just negotiated another 3 year LMA. My accounting department loves one invoice a month. It helps me control my budget. The last LMA worked so well we opted to sign up again.

3. The LMA we signed is tied to our flat rate WL discount. We will be renegotiating this year based upon what print Thomson West titles we still actually keep in our collection. We have a mandate to cut print, as we will be relocating in the next year or so, and will have less space. For now, we will be cancelling a number of print titles that are included in our WL flat rate. However, we do this very carefully, try to get the attys. to training and give them plenty of notice. The West reps know that there will be changes in the LMA, and I am going to make certain the renewal times are closer together to accommodate the decisions we make regarding print vs. online.

4. Our LMA expires in 2009 — so we will take advantage of the 5% adjustment offered in the contract and cancel titles up to our 5%. However, we want to cut a total of 10% of the LMA so are tying our negotiation of our Westlaw special offer to the LMA — hoping to get price breaks for both. Without the price breaks we seek, we will not renew Westlaw special offer contract and ride out the LMA through 2009 and then cancel over 70% of West print. Seeing how bad the economy is I think for the first time in years we may have the upper hand on getting great contracts and subscription deals. We will see what happens.

5. I will not renew again. The renewal process is a shambles. For 2 years ( starting the 3rd and final soon) I developed my own Excel spreadsheet to calculate deletions and add ons only to have 1) West almost completely ignore / take 3 months on average to implement changes ; 2) have meeting after meeting with them about developing a tool to calculate the changes never to see any finished product; and 3) have to fight and I mean fight for even estimated costs of supplements ( remember the good old days when the long gone and much lamented FTC guidelines for legal publishing required supplement prices to be posted? Well the LMA group at West never heard of them and was a little taken aback when I referred to this good business standard.)

State Court & County Libraries:

1. I renewed my LMA about 18 months ago. I was still fairly new here so I went along with staff’s recommendation to retain 3 print subs to the — decennial digest. Arrgh. When we have public access WL steps away.

Anyway, I went through the entire treatise collection and made some changes/additions. It’s a bit tricky since I have three staffed branches where the staff doesn’t want to cancel or appear to be downsizing. Now, when I have two treatises on a topic, I’m forced to consider canceling the non-West since I can’t cancel the West.

One thing to pay attention to: the agreement says something like at the end of the term, the parties agree to use their best efforts to enter into a superseding LMA. If they don’t enter into a superseding LMA, then Subscriber shall there-after be billed at the then current rates for its West print product titles subscriptions. Since West won’t participate in the price index and often doesn’t post prices on their web site, who knows what the current rates might be? I’m guessing they won’t be helpful in providing that information to let me make an informed decision. Unclear what the best efforts and good faith negotiations might mean either.

I did take advantage of the option of rebalancing things a bit after the 1st year. I’ve had to cancel some big sets due to downsizing/loss of space and they won’t give me a break when that happens.

2. The Court Law Library is presently in negotiation w/TW re a possible LMA (first time). I have not been impressed with some of the pricing they are proposing to give the court – even tho the LMA does limit the amount of annual increases for the next 2 years. In addition, the lack of flexibility is not so great for the Court. I’ll leave it at that, but I am advising the Court to probably skip the LMA unless TW can offer them better first year pricing (i.e., the pricing for updating the West CA Code sets in year one of the proposed LMA is 69% higher than what the Court has been paying for this current year… highway robbery!).

3. Our LMA is not up for renewal at this time, but continues for several more years. IF our LMA was up for renewal…

· The primary reason that the LMA is valuable to us is that we avoid individual invoices for each material piece. We would try to keep the LMA for that reason
· Our Collection Development team would review our list of received titles and would recommend changes (adds or cancels)

· We would try to re-negotiate the contract if there were a significant number of changes desired.

4. At the moment I am planning on renewing, but will be approaching my rep to get quotes with a reduced title list. This of course, breaks my heart, but in light of our economic situation, I have no choice, as it appears that I am on a zero growth budget for the next two years.

5. We are entering our 3rd and final year of the LMA. We will continue it by adding the few items we were able to purchase this calendar year. Unfortunately, we usually have few deletions, so the price increases. Our budget is so small that what we currently subscribe through West is a fairly basic collection anyway. As a result, we try to take advantage of also WestPacing as many titles as possible.

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