Document Type


Publication Date



libraries, citation management, vendor relationships


The vast majority of the literature on citation management software focuses on making comparisons and providing recommendations. Even articles that go beyond Consumer Reports-style product reviews lack any critical analysis of the relationships between libraries and the vendors who design and sell citation management tools. Librarians communicate with these vendors in order to get technical assistance, report bugs, provide feedback on the product, and make feature requests. In this context, the relationship between librarian and vendor is that of customer and merchant. However, libraries that pay for expensive citation management software subscriptions must market these tools to students and faculty so that use levels justify the cost. In this context, librarians are no longer customers. Instead, they become advertisers and technical trainers promoting a commercial product on behalf of a for-profit corporation. This presentation will address the various roles that librarians play in their relationships with this subset of vendors, explore the financial value of the citation management software industry, and share the results of a recent survey of 300+ academic librarians on their experiences supporting citation management tools.


Presented at the ACRL/NY 2017 Symposium at Baruch College. ACRL/NY is the Greater New York Metropolitan Area Chapter of the Association of College and Research Libraries. The symposium theme for 2017 was "The Mission: The Academic and Research Library in the Twenty-First Century Information Environment."

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.