Negotiation Skills for Librarians Online Course

Building knowledge, skills and confidence in e-resource negotiation

Course purpose

  • A five-week expert-facilitated online course to support librarians and consortia members when negotiating with publishers and other vendors for electronic resources.
  • The course is highly practical, sharing knowledge, skills and tools which you can apply immediately to on-going and future negotiations, both new deals and renewals.

Date of Next Online Courses

Europe, North America and Compatible Time-Zones:
Next course in 2018

  • A course for colleagues based in Europe, North America and compatible time-zones is planned for 2018. If you would like to take part, please contact me and I will add your name to the waiting list.

Australia and Compatible Time-Zones:

  • A course for colleagues based in Australia and compatible time-zones is planned for 2018 if there is sufficient demand. If you would like to take part, please contact me and I will add your name to the waiting list.


  • The electronic resources landscape continues to evolve, hugely impacting the role and responsibilities of librarians and other information professionals.
  • The rise of the license, the demise of the ‘list price’, tailored deals, new rights and responsibilities, new users, and new ways of delivering, using and sharing information are all part of the evolving complexity.
  • At the same time, some things have not changed: publishers still seek to maximise usage, market presence and revenues, whilst libraries and consortia seek to best serve their users within the constraints of rising costs and pressured budgets.
  • In order to navigate these challenges - and make the most of the considerable opportunities - negotiation has become a fundamental part of the content acquisition process.
  • It follows that librarians and consortia staff need strong negotiation knowledge and skills, and yet training in this area continues to be neglected by most LIS degrees.
  • This course has been filling this gap for almost 10 years, informing and empowering librarians, growing their confidence and skills, and enabling them to gain the best from every negotiation.

A brief history

  • This online course is based on the highly successful 1-day in-person workshop delivered since 2008 to library and consortia throughout Europe and the Middle East, and was developed to meet demand from colleagues based in north America, Australia and elsewhere.
  • Drawing on the same high quality content, adapted for online learning, the course delivers a high quality learning experience, including unique learning opportunities including buddying sessions, an online shared learning space, and expert interviews in which leading librarians share their negotiation experience and tips.

Of the 450+ librarians who have taken either the in-person workshop or the online course to date,
100% would recommend them to colleagues.
All have rated their overall learning experience
as 'very good' or ‘excellent’.

Is this course for you?

  • Negotiation Skills for Librarians online has been written for serials and acquisitions librarians and consortia members involved in the acquisition of electronic resources in academic institutions or on behalf of academic consortia
  • Written at an introductory-intermediate level, the course is aimed at those who are: new to negotiations or who have some negotiations experience and are seeking a ‘refresher’ and/or additional tips, skills and knowledge. It will also benefit those being trained to undertake purchasing roles in the future.
  • The course focuses on journals and other serially published content (although much of the learning is transferable to eBook and database acquisition).

Although the primary focus of the course is on e-resources acquisition in an academic environment, information/knowledge workers in public libraries and corporations are welcome. Equally, although the course is designed primarily for those new or relatively new to publisher negotiations, more experienced negotiators have found great value in taking part.

Course objectives

  • Strengthen your negotiation knowledge and skills
  • Build your confidence and competence through:
    • 4 cornerstones of successful negotiation
    • 7 habits of effective negotiations
    • 5 guiding principles
    • a 5-step model for building influence
  • Raise awareness of impact of perspective, mindset and resilience on negotiation outcomes
  • Practice above with realistic negotiation scenarios
  • Share a range of practical handouts to support you at every stage of negotiation
  • Benefit from the wealth of wisdom and experience in the group

How we will learn

  • Five live webinars featuring key skills and knowledge sharing plus group discussion and coaching
  • Weekly 'buddy' sessions in which you can explore key learning and share your negotiations experiences with a different course-mate each week
  • Structured weekly assignments designed to deepen your learning
  • A private learning environment in which you can share negotiation-related issues
  • Practical handouts and other materials designed to support you in your workplace
  • Optional free bonus webinar helps build your personal resilience to enhance your negotiation confidence and outcomes

Course Content

Week 1: Introduction & Overview

  • Live webinar (75 minutes)
  • Course overview and learning goals
  • Negotiation context and basics
  • Common negotiation challenges
  • Four main negotiation styles
  • Week 1 Assignment: What’s your perspective? 

Week 2: Negotiation Strategy: Four Cornerstones

  • Live webinar (75 minutes)
  • Four Cornerstones: key negotiation strategies to strengthen and support negotiations
  • Explore how each cornerstone contributes to negotiation success
  • Consider how to incorporate these strategies further into your negotiation process
  • Week 2 Assigment: Exploring the Four Cornerstones

    Week 3: Negotiation Tactics Part 1&2

  • Live double webinar (120 minutes)
  • Share seven key tactics which support effective negotiations
  • Explore how each supports you in each stage of the negotiation process
  • Consider how you can embed these tactics (further) into your negotiation process
  • Week 3 Assignment: Integrating Negotiation Tactics

Week 4: Principles into Practice

  • No webinar in Week 4; participants undertake the Principles into Practice Challenge
  • Working in teams (by phone, Skype, FaceTime etc.) to apply knowledge and skills
    from the course to resolve a series of realistic mini negotiation scenarios
  • Week 4  Assignment: Sharing findings from the challenge in our private online learning environment

Week 5: Bringing It All Together

  • Live webinar (75 minutes)
  • Review key learning from the Principles Into Practice Challenge
  • Best practice (i): five guiding principles for navigating towards a win-win outcome
  • Best practice (ii): a five-step influencing model from the FBI
  • Your key learning from this course
  • Course feedback and next steps

Bonus Webinar!

Building Resilience for Confident Negotiations

A special bonus live webinar (60 mins) in which we will:

  • Raise awareness of how our mindset impacts confidence and negotiation outcomes
  • Define resilience and explore how it can enhance negotiation outcomes
  • Explore a proven resilience-building model designed by leading researchers
  • Integrate this model to enhance your confidence and resourcefulness when negotiating

Bonus Content!

Expert Interviews

  • You will also have access to exclusive 'Expert Interviews'. A small and growing archive of one-to-one conversations with leading librarians sharing their negotiating knowledge, wisdom and expertise recorded specifically to support your learning and development. Stream or download as you need.

Course impact

Participants from the in-person workshop on which this online course is based report many practical benefits including:

  • immediately saving money[1]
  • greater confidence when dealing with vendors
  • achieving more affordable, sustainable agreements
  • securing better license terms
  • greater understanding of which areas can - and should - be negotiated
  • more options when negotiating with larger and/or 'monopoly' publishers
  • clearer sense of the areas they want to influence
  • greater confidence about the negotiation process as whole
  • serving teaching and research more effectively
  • enhancing the value and impact of the library

[1] For example, a US-based librarian negotiated a $35,000 saving from two deals whilst colleagues at a library in Eire reported a saving of €5,000 on a single deal shortly after taking the course. Whilst such results cannot be guaranteed, this course is expressly designed to build the knowledge, skills and confidence necessary for negotiating more equitable and sustainable deals.

Ready to book?

If you are interested in participating, please contact me and I will add your name to the waiting list (without obligation). 


Feedback from delegates to the first online Negotiation Skills for Librarians online courses:

“Within a few weeks of taking the course I negotiated a discount that was double the cost of the course registration, so my Dean was thrilled with this quick and positive result.  I have also since negotiated a 5-figure discount on a couple of end of year purchases.  There were so many useful tools and takeaways but some super-important learnings for me included: being mindful of my attitude and the amount of energy I was bringing to negotiations.  I never enjoyed this process and I can see now that I was trying to avoid it or get it over as quickly as possible and that was really affecting the outcomes.  Now, I am taking time to think about a strategy and next steps with each deal.  I really enjoy having the opportunity to be creative and now I can see that creativity does fit in this process and actually leads to better outcomes, so while I wouldn’t describe it as fun, I start each new negotiation with the idea that it could lead pretty much anywhere and that the possibility exists that I may get even more than what I expected from it and that is kind of exciting.”   Jennifer Carroll, Collection Management Librarian, Dimond Library, University of New Hampshire [May 2017]

“This was my first online class…and I thought it was terrific. I was afraid I might not get to know my classmates very well, but that wasn't the case at all. I think we built a really good class camaraderie! The Ruzuku platform helped with that, but I think the live weekly webinars were the key. Sarah, you did such a good job facilitating those….The content was excellent. [I am seriously going to laminate some of the handouts to keep track of their points easily!] This was exactly the information I needed, at the pace I needed it, and at the time I needed it. I don't think I could have asked the stars to align more perfectly. This course met or exceeded every expectation I had.”
Kim Maxwell, Electronic Resources Management Librarian, Massachusetts Institute of Technology* [Mar 2016]

“I really enjoyed this course, the framework for negotiation and the concepts covered, as well as the opportunity to connect with colleagues and create a network of negotiation ninjas….Thank you so much for such a rich and valuable professional development opportunity!”  A leading North American librarian [Mar 2016].

“Sarah has such empathy and warmth and really set a great tone and provided encouragement. I especially liked the bonus webinar on resilience. I had not thought how my approach to negotiating was tied to my outlook on other things in my life and how building my resilience can help my negotiating abilities. Brilliant!”
Ronda Rowe, Licensing & Content Management Librarian, University of Texas at Austen*

“I loved the conversations, range of experiences from the group, and the depth and breadth of experience that you brought to the discussions Sarah. Your handouts - in particular, the checklists - were outstandingly helpful….I would highly recommend your class to anyone with an interest in the topic of negotiation.”
Serin Anderson, Electronic Services Librarian, Saint Martin’s University, WA*

[*views expressed above are personal and do not reflect endorsement by the affiliate institutions].

Some of the positive comments from delegates to the in-person Negotiation Skills for Librarians workshop on which the six-week course is based:

“I have used the learning from the day when speaking to publishers on the telephone and have found that I have a great deal more confidence and am able to assert myself better.”
Resources Manager, Serials, e-Resources and Digital Access),  June 2015

 “Very approachable, friendly, clear and concise delivery. Good course which was paced with good variety of content. I enjoyed it very much and learned a lot. Thank you.”
Acquisitions Librarian, May 2015

“This has been a really useful course with a good mixture of content. The background in terms of Mindset and Resilience was really useful and was built upon with practical negotiating tools…the Checklist is a valuable practical tool which I am sure I will use over and over again. As a new member of staff particularly, the course has been excellent.”  Librarian, June 2014

“Lots of invaluable handouts.  Good mix of presentation and practical.  Nice informal style, felt very engaged with all content.” Serials Librarian, June 2014

 “Every librarian involved in purchasing/licensing should do this course!”
 Special Collections Librarian, June 2013

“Thank you so much for one of the most informative, practical and useful courses I have attended.”
Serials Librarian, June 2013

Ready to book?

If you are interested in participating, please contact me and I will add your name to the waiting list (without obligation). 

About me

  • I am an experienced facilitator professional coach[1]  with a passion for designing and delivering empowered immersive learning which enables people to realise their full potential and engage with their work and wider life with creativity, courage, wisdom and confidence.  

  • I have over 28 years’ experience working with libraries, publishers and a wide range of intermediaries in the academic and professional information industry, including significant experience of the change, disruption, challenge and opportunity which characterises this sector. 

  • Through Lead From Within I deliver one-to-one and group coaching, leadership development training, facilitation and consultancy services. I have worked with a broad range of clients in over 20 countries.

  • In addition, I also co-facilitate Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, the first course in our new Mindful Leadership for Women programme as well as Make Yourself Heard (a 1-day workshop developing confidence in public speaking for new and not-so-new speakers).

[1] I trained with the world’s leading coach training school and continue to learn from thought-leaders in negotiations, mindset, resilience and inner leadership development.