Magazine article Information Today

CLASS Files Complaint to Enjoin RLG from Termination of Agreement

Magazine article Information Today

CLASS Files Complaint to Enjoin RLG from Termination of Agreement

Article excerpt

CLASS Files Complaint To Enjoin RLG From Termination of Agreement

In mid-May, the Research Libraries Group (RLG) notified the Cooperative Agency for Library Systems and Services (CLASS) that the agreement under which CLASS provides services from RLG's library information system, RLIN, would terminate at the end of this summer, Effective no later than September 15, 1989, RLG will provide direct support to all current and future users of RLIN services.

CLASS and RLG have had a service agreement for the past eleven years. CLASS brokers on an exclusive basis access, customer support and training for RLIN (Research Libraries Information Network) to non-RLG members. The contract between the two organizations would have been in effect through September 1990, with the provision for an automatic three-year renewal.

CLASS provides RLIN to libraries not otherwise eligible for membership in RLG. They have recently expanded their capacity to distribute RLIN by initiating distributor contracts with two major library networks, AMIGOS and NELNET. If RLG is successful in its action, CLASS and its affiliate networks will no longer be able to provide RLIN services. RLG has stated "organizational needs of RLG and the economics of its relationship with CLASS," as the reasons for terminating the contract.

CLASS considers RLG's attempt to usurp the relationship with CLASS members as a direct attack on the fabric of cooperative library efforts. According to Diane Ellsworth of CLASS, "We are concerned that this will set a precedent which could undermine the cooperative efforts of libraries and cooperative networks everywhere. If RLG is successful in their attempt to break our contract it could give other organizations ideas." Ellsworth also commented that, "RLG has been unwilling to discuss the withdrawal of the termination notice or the reasoning behind it."

The lack of dialog between the two organizations caused CLASS to take legal action. On August 4th, 1989, CLASS filed in Santa Clara County California Superior Court a Complaint to enjoin Research Libraries Group, Inc. from termination of the CLASS/RLG Service Agreement. CLASS also filed a request for a preliminary hearing which was set for August 28, 1989. The request would prevent RLG from terminating the agreement.

According to CLASS' attorney Don Marble, RLG has asked for and been granted a continuance on the hearing until September 1, 1989. The results of that hearing, to seek injunctive relief, will be published in the October issue of Information Today. In a telephone interview, Marble told Information Today that, "The terms of the contract prohibit RLG from terminating the agreement without good cause."

As CLASS Sees It

As far as CLASS is concerned, RLG does not have good cause to cancel the agreement. CLASS serves as an advocate for over 500 libraries, and with input and advice from its members, has contributed to the strength and development of the RLIN database. CLASS also feels that the growth in the number of users of the database is a result of their investment in marketing and promotion efforts. Attorney Marble told Information Today that, "It was CLASS that developed the non-RLG member market for RLIN, not RLG."

Marble also told us that CLASS intends, by filing a legal action, to have the agreement upheld for the full four year period, which includes the three year automatic renewal. …

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