School of Library and Information Studies

LIS 598 Managing Vendor Relations

LIS 598 Managing Vendor Relations

School of Library and Information Studies
University of Alberta

LIS 598 Lec. X53  Managing Vendor Relations: Challenges & Opportunities

(February 28 - March 2) [Reg. 78784]

Course Coordinator: 

Dr Merrill Distad
Former Associate University Librarian (Research & Special Collections Services) & University Archivist, University of Alberta
780-221-0101 /

The goal of this course is to provide students with an understanding of the fundamentals of procurement of library goods and services in institutional environments, large and small, in both the public and private sectors, and to illustrate the manifold ways in which vendors provide opportunities for added value – material and financial – to the institutional client. Topics covered include vendor evaluation and selection, contract negotiation, vendor-client liaison, budgeting, financial oversight, and accountability.

Prerequisites: None.

Objectives: By the end of the course participants should be:

  1. familiar with institutional standards for procurement of goods and services;
  2. able to undertake research for the evaluation and selection of vendors;
  3. able to draft RFI and RFP specifications for the tendering of purchasing or licensing contracts;
  4. able to apply this knowledge to collection development, including acquisitions by firm order, blanket order, standing order, subscription, and/or approval plans;
  5. familiar with the advantages and challenges of library consortiae;
  6. able to enter licensing agreements for the provision of electronic resources;
  7. able to negotiate contracts for materials processing (e.g., shelf-ready cataloguing);
  8. …for the purchase of IT hardware and software;
  9. …for the planning, construction, renovation, and maintenance of physical facilities and infrastructure, etc.;
  10. familiar with evaluation, quality control, and financial accounting and oversight.

Methods: A combination of readings, experts’ presentations, discussion and hands-on practice.

Marking: Marks will be assigned as follows:

  • Class Participation: 30%
  • Term project/report (due Friday, March 28th, 2014): 70%

Recommended background reading – (available on-line via ezproxy)


1) What’s at Stake for Libraries & Their Clients


J. Starratt & K. Armstrong. “The Higher Education Library: What Will $2 Billion Buy?” Journal of Library Administration. 51:5-6 (July, 2011): 580-594.


2) Choices, Choices, Choices!


M. McKinley. “Vendor Selection: Strategic Choices. Serials Review. 16:2 (Summer, 1990).

C. Stamison, et al. “What They Never Told You about Vendors in Library School.” Serials Librarian. 56:1-4 (Jan-June, 2009): 139-145.

V.K. Williams & K.A. Downes. “Assessing Your Vendor’s Viability.” Serials Librarian. 59:3-4 (Oct-Dec, 2010): 313-324.

D.M. Pennell. “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow: The Vicissitudes of Vendor/Library Relations in the Slavic and East European Book Trade.” Slavic & East European Information Resources. 5:1-2 (2004): 59-68.

T.J. Magi. “A Content Analysis of Library Vendor Privacy Policies: Do They Meet Our Standards?” College and Research Libraries. 71:3 (May, 2010): 254-272.

3) Ritual Courtship Dances


N. Walter. “Model RFP for Integrated Library System Products.” Library Technology Reports. 39:4 (July-Aug, 2003): 5-66.

M. Westfall, et al. “Selecting a Vendor: The Request for Proposal (RFP) from Library and Vendor Perspectives.” Serials Librarian. 64:1-4 (Jan-June, 2013): 188-195.

J. Lumsden, et al.”All in This Together: A Subscription Vendor’s View.” Serials Librarian. 59:3-4 (Oct-Dec, 2010): 325-333.

T. Lemley & R.M. Britton. “Negotiating Your License.” Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries. 8:4 (Oct-Dec, 2011): 325-338.

B. Strauch & A. Chesler. “A Licensing Survival Guide for Librarians.” Journal of Electronic Resources in Medical Libraries. 6:2 (Apr-June, 2009): 123-137.


4) Pursuing ‘Marital’ Success


M.N. Kaltwang “The Important Three Cs of Library/Vendor Relation: Communication, Collaboration, Competency.” Against the Grain. 18:1 (Feb, 2006).

S. Mireau. “Vendor Liaison: The Canadian Perspective.” Legal Information Management. 11:1 (2011): 24-26.

R.A. Gagnon. “Library/Vendor Relations from a Public Library Perspective.” Journal of Library Administration. 44:3-4 (2006): 95-111.

K. Courtney. “Library/Vendor Relations: An Academic Publisher’s Perspective.” Journal of Library Administration. 44:3-4 (2006): 57-68.

T. Horava. “Direct Ordering by Subject Librarians in a Vendor System: A Case Study.” Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library & Information Practice & Research. 7:1 (2012): 1-11.

T. Bucknell. “Buying by the Bucketful: A Comparative Study of E-Book Acquisition Strategies.” Insights: The UKSG Journal. 25:1 (March, 2012): 51-60.

E. Duranceau. “Vendors and Librarians Speak Out on Out Sourcing, Cataloguing, and Acquisitions.” Serials Review. 20:3 (Fall, 1994): pp 15.




Friday, 28 February, 6:00 – 9:00 PM


1. Merrill Distad:  Introduction: Format, Assignments, Marking


2. Paul Wain (UofA Supply Management Services)

Procurement of goods and services in large organisations: procedures, FRIs, RFPs, and legal contracts


3. Li-Kwong Cheah (UofA Learning Services)

Budget planning, fiscal control, & accountability


Saturday, 1 March, 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM


9:00 – 10:30

4. Ernie Howe & Geoff Harder (UofA Libraries)

Negotiating and managing licenses for electronic resources and contracting & managing digitization services.

Coffee break


11:00 – 12:30


5. Denise Koufogiannakis (UofA Libraries)

          Partners vs. vendors: Forming, negotiating, & managing through consortia


Lunch break


2:00 – 3:30

6. Sandra Shores (UofA Libraries)

          Evaluating and purchasing information technology: hardware & softwear


Coffee break


3:45 – 5:00

7. Trish Chatterley (UofA Libraries)

Symbiosis between Librarians & Vendors. Part I:        

Collection development & vendor liaison in STEM libraries


Sunday, 2 March, 9:00 AM – Noon


9:00 – 10:15

8. Sharon Marshall (UofA Libraries)

          Negotiating & managing the outsourcing of technical services


9. Merrill Distad

Vendor liaison for retrospective acquisitions & the cultivation & stewardship of donors-in-kind


Coffee break


10:30 – Noon

10. Fred Ziegler (UofA Libraries) & Keith Schmiedl (Book vendor)

Symbiosis between Librarians & Vendors. Part II:

Collection development & vendor liaison in humanities & social sciences libraries