For those of you that are unfamiliar with West's Library Relations Team, they are typically law librarians themselves, and are the liaisons between the behemoth Thomson Reuters and us law librarians. It was this team that had to clean up the mess last summer when Thomson Reuters released an ad campaign that many librarians found insulting. They are the conduits that we law librarians currently have to relay our opinions to those within Thomson Reuters, and they are Thomson Reuters direct conduit back to the profession. This team has worked to not only build key relationships, but also introduce new product lines, take feedback from librarians back to the development team, and provided platforms for law librarians to disseminate information across the profession.
I've been pretty critical of this team in the past, and they have been gracious enough to contact me about those issues. Since the Thomson Reuters merger though, there has been a noticeable change in how the "West" side of the house fits under the big umbrella of Thomson Reuters. I still stand by my prediction that what we knew as "Westlaw" will slowly be integrated into the "Reuters" side of the business. The first step to that integration seems to have been taken with these layoffs.
Although it is not completely a surprise that the Library Relations team is being cut in half, it does worry me as to the effect that this will have across the legal publishing world. If the West team is cut this month, how long before Lexis and other major publishers follows their lead? We law librarians should start preparing for the day where sales representatives are our only line of communication between us and the vendors.
UPDATE: Anne Ellis did respond to my email confirming that 5 Library Relations Managers were laid off (so, not quite half as the rumor had it.) Here's Anne's response: