Rumors are floating that half a third (5 of 15) of the West Library Relations Team will laid off by the end of January. Apparently, those being dismissed from the Thomson Reuters group were given notice back in December (so, kudos for keeping it a secret this long!) Those that I’ve talked to say that the layoffs affect those Library Relations Managers in the small to mid-size regions of the country. I emailed Anne Ellis, Executive Director of the West Library Relations Team, but did not get a response.

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:

I want to confirm for you that Thomson Reuters recently notified five librarian relations managers that their positions had been eliminated. These are difficult decisions and it’s our sincere hope that employees affected by this action will transition smoothly to new opportunities. We are working with them to identify opportunities they may be able to transition into. Thomson Reuters is committed to supporting librarians and that remains unchanged. We support librarians through sponsorships, training, continuing education, and library management consulting. Our account management, librarian relations, research specialists, and reference attorney teams include hundreds of experts available to help our librarian customers. Going forward, our librarian relations program will evolve as librarianship evolves with a renewed focus on online training, more emphasis on the technology aspects of the librarian’s role, and a continuing commitment to fostering and supporting the library community. As we move through this economic cycle, we will not compromise our commitment to helping legal systems perform better through innovation, service, product excellence and corporate citizenship.