Shocking news has occurred with the West Librarian Relations Management (LRM) team with major layoffs. This was the second round of layoffs for the West LRM in less than a year. According to insiders, long time colleagues: Mark Schwartz (Director), Elaine Lee, Craig Griffith, Michelle Lucero and Erika Beck have been given their walking papers. Anne Ellis and Lori Headstrom have missed this new development and are still employees of Thomson Reuters. But for how long?
The question you may ask is why is this happening. Is the answer purely economic? I think the bigger question is what Thomson Reuters and to a lesser extent LexisNexis thinks about the librarian community. The firing of the Librarian Relations Managers indicates that the companies feel that contacting librarians to purchase their products or maintaining a robust librarian relationship is no longer of value to them.
We are seeing this in Thomson Reuters sales strategies for WestlawNext. They are bypassing the librarians and going directly to the CEOs and COOs. The best way to counteract this strategy is to have our executives push back and have the companies contact us as their experts in negotiating contracts. If you don't have this relationship with your COOs and Managing Partners, you need to start creating that relationship now or find your self looking in from the outside instead of being a vital part of management.
It took us years to earn the respect of our management teams. But we seem to be sliding back to where we were pre-1990s. We have been steadily losing ground. We lost ground in the 1990s when firms started putting IT Directors in charge of the library. We're losing ground in this decade as the Marketing Department is overshadowing us with business research. In law schools Library Director positions are being filled by non-librarians. If we want to go the way of the Librarian Relations Managers, then sit back and do nothing. But if you want to remain a viable member of the management team, you need to get up and remind them of your value.