Q: Why are we having a discussion about PNC/MLA Institutional Membership?
A: PNC/MLA group purchasing activities are recognized as very beneficial to participating institutions. But PNC/MLA membership is individual while group purchasing is done at the institutional level. A number of members have expressed their desire that personal membership dues be used to benefit individuals, not institutions. In addition, not all individual members can benefit from the group purchases. Read more details about the history of this below. [back to FAQ contents]
Q. What is the PNC/MLA Group Purchasing Committee and what is it doing?
A. The PNC/MLA Group Purchasing Committee evolved from group purchasing activities begun by the Washington Medical Librarians Association—activities that were regional in scope from the beginning. In 2004 the PNC/MLA Group Purchasing Committee is coordinating a regional group subscription to Ovid’s Total Access package of more than 225 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins full-text electronic journals. Read more details about the PNC/MLA Group Purchasing Committee’s activities.
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Q. What has been proposed to the PNC/MLA membership by the PNC/MLA Board?
A. Change the bylaws for PNC/MLA to incorporate an Institutional Membership category:
- This category will be based at the institutional level rather than the individual level
- Participants in the PNC/MLA Group Purchasing Committee's joint subscriptions will be required to become Institutional Members
- Each Institutional Member will be required to designate an individual to be its Institutional Representative
- Institutional Members will receive these benefits:
- eligibility to participate in PNC/MLA Group Purchasing Committee-negotiated subscriptions, licenses, and acquisitions
- member rates for the Institutional Representative to attend Chapter meetings and CE
- Institutional Representatives will not have voting rights in the Association
- Institutional Representatives will not have access to the SurveyMonkey software
- Institutional Member dues would be set at $100. These dues will be deposited in PNC/MLA’s general fund
- To receive voting rights and SurveyMonkey access, an Institutional Representative can also be a full individual member of PNC/MLA by paying an additional $25 ( US) or $28 (Canadian). [back to FAQ contents]
Q. Are the vendors requiring PNC/MLA to develop an institutional membership category?
A. No. However, although the vendors have certainly not indicated in any way that they want PNC/MLA to have an institutional membership, we have had one vendor (Stat!Ref) that will not sign license agreements with the individual participants but requires that the consortial agreement be with PNC/MLA itself. Since PNC/MLA is an organization of personal members the Board and the Group Purchasing Committee agree that we can not sign such an agreement at this time. I expect that this is not an isolated situation and we need to figure out how we are going to deal with this complication (and others we are not yet aware of). Creating an institutional membership option does not resolve this issue but it is a first step. [back to FAQ contents]
Q. Can someone please clarify what kinds of expenses are incurred by our group purchasing, beyond the costs which each institution pays for the products?
A. At this time, no expenses beyond the cost of the subscriptions are being incurred. All work is being done on a volunteer basis. [back to FAQ contents]
Q. What other issues and questions about institutional membership have been raised in HLIB-NW discussion?
A.. Many of the comments have been incorporated into these FAQs. Here are others:
- “I image that if we contract as a group rather than as individuals we would need to pay for legal review of all contracts.”
- “If members representing an institution can't vote, then it seems to follow that they could not hold office, either. That could badly cut into the pool of members who can perform the many volunteer activities required to keep PNC/MLA going. My suggestion would be to keep membership in PNC/MLA at the individual level with full privileges, and add a separate, supplemental item for institutional participation in group purchases, with the $100 fee. Members would choose to add that benefit to their membership or not. The institution would still be represented by a regular member.”
- “I'm assuming that the goal of this is not simply to raise additional money. If that were the case, I'd advocate for some kind of fee system tied to the group purchases, rather than this. I'm assuming that the impetus behind this is that vendors are requiring it. If so, it's too bad we have to jump to their tune. I see this as an unnecessarily complex structure placed on such a relatively small organization. Figuring out who is entitled to what and tracking it, locking people out of benefits because they are or are not the institutional representative, all but requiring that one person libraries have two memberships in order to vote in the organization they are supporting, etc. - it all seems like way too much infrastructure. As to where the funds should go, do we know how they will be spent? That is, will we pay the committee members for their efforts? Or what? If the vendors can require that we create institutional memberships, can they also dictate that we maintain separate accounts for this project? If we know that the money taken in will approximate what the group purchases cost to administer, then they probably should be kept separate. Otherwise, why not just keep them in the general fund to maintain greater flexibility? As to voting privileges, again, it just seems very unfortunate to make institutions join as such, and have to designate an institutional rep, then lock that person out of an important part of organizational activity. All of this feels like the tail wagging the dog. But, again, since I wasn't at the meeting, perhaps I'm not understanding all the ramifications.”
- “Supplemental membership in an optional purchasing group sounds like a great way to keep PNC intact and allow us to function as a group purchasing consortium.”
- “Since were hoping to participate in the StatRef group purchase, I vote for the institutional membership.”
- “I think it is a good thing not only for the benefit of being able to be a participant in group purchases, but also to help provide hospital librarians with more clout. I also think that there should still be individual membership and that the institutional membership could be an add-in with an individual from the institution representing the institution. In my situation, they would both be me.”
- “I was thinking about the non-voting ramifications and how it would affect my library, and I came to the conclusion that either Sarah and/or I would have to become personal members, too, in order to use Survey Monkey, vote, etc. As for the comments about bowing to vendors, I don't like that thought either, but I think instead it's more a business issue. We were very fortunate that Christian and Ovid allowed us to work as individual libraries, but if we are going to seek other deals with other vendors, we probably won't be so lucky. Also right now there are a number of libraries that are benefiting from consortial purchasing, but have no PNC members within their organization. One example is the new Pullman Regional Hospital, and I "recruited" them. I know of several other area hospitals who might be interested in joining and that is a good thing, in that it helps bring them into contact with medical librarians and other medical libraries via PNC. But since they are benefiting, it's not unreasonable that they should help contribute monetarily to PNC in some way.”
- Good discussion so far. I may be missing something here: If no PNC/MLA
(or WMLA) funds have been expended for the group purchases so far, how
are "personal membership dues used to benefit institutions", one of the concerns mentioned? How did we come up with the $100 figure? More PNC income would be good but the stated reason for the new category is to facilitate group purchasing contracts. The only other benefit for the institutional rep so far seems to be attending meetings and CE at member rates. I will also point out that MLA institutional members are voting members. (Our Bylaws used to give dual MLA members (institutional and regular) two votes for MLA-related business. Since in recent memory we didn't actually do that, and it wasn't appropriate we eliminated that language.) And to answer one of the questions asked: our present Bylaws allow only voting members of MLA to serve as officers of PNC or vote on MLA-related issues - and that is tied to the MLA Bylaws as far as the MLA issues stand. If we have an institutional PNC membership, the status of that rep in MLA would determine if they could hold office or not in PNC.
- Both memberships seem like an overkill. SHMC has an institutional membership for MLA, and I'm the designated representative...so I get to vote. It seems like PNC/MLA should extend voting privileges to the designated institutional member/representative in the same way. A P.S. to that thought is that my idea works for hospital libraries, where there is probably only one librarian, but academic institutional members probably have many librarians who want to
participate...who would need individual memberships if they aren't the institutional member/rep.
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Q. Say, wasn't there a survey about PNC/MLA Institutional Membership? Why don't we just act on what the survey told us?
A. Yes indeed there was a survey! And many thanks to everyone who responded. The survey results were very useful, but inconclusive. Many PNC/MLA members wanted more information.
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Q. Can you remind me about the history of Institutional Membership discussions at PNC/MLA?
At its January 24, 2004 meeting, the PNC/MLA Board charged the PNC/MLA Group Purchasing Committee with investigating an institutional membership option for the association. In summer, 2004 a task force from the Group Purchasing Committee (Susan Barnes, Judith Hayes, and Kathy Murray) worked with Anne Girling, chair of the PNC/MLA Membership Committee, used HLIB-NW and SurveyMonkey to publicize and administer a survey of the membership. 74 responses were received. The survey results were discussed at the October 2, 2004 PNC/MLA Board meeting. At the October 4, 2004 PNC/MLA Business Meeting, the Board made its recommendation regarding Institutional Membership to the PNC/MLA general membership: In the abbreviated discussion at the business meeting, questions were raised about whether the institutional membership dues should be deposited in the Association's general fund or used by the Group Purchasing Committee. Whether or not the Institutional Representative should have voting privileges was another point of discussion. When time ran short, the group agreed to continue the discussion via HLIB-NW. [back to FAQ contents]
Q. What kind of institutions currently participate in the PNC/MLA Group Purchase?
A. Hospitals (one of which is a .com, the rest of them are .org), academic institutions with health programs, a research institute, a hospice, and also, from Canada, a governmental health authority which includes several hospitals. OHSU and UW are not participants because their needs for access were beyond what our group could provide. Biotechs are not in the group because their subject needs were not met by the LWW Total Access Package. Calculated audience sizes range from 12 (the hospice) to more than 5,000 (the health authority). [back to FAQ contents]
Q. Who pays the bills and signs the contracts?
A. At present, each participating institution pays its own cost and signs its own contract with Ovid. [back to FAQ contents]
Q. In past years, when the group purchase was part of WMLA, were participants required to join the organization?
A. No. [back to FAQ contents]
Q. Have participating institutions been required to have a library in order to join the group purchase?
A. No, but we have required that there be an individual responsible for payment, getting the contract signed, arranging access. [back to FAQ contents]
Q. How much did this cost WMLA in the past years, when the group purchase was part of that organization?
A. All work was done on a volunteer basis and no organizational funds were spent.
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