Negotiation Skills for Librarians
Online Course
For Members of the Boston Libraries Consortium

Building knowledge, skills and confidence in e-resource negotiation


In response to a request from the Boston Libraries Consortium (BLC), a dedicated online course, solely for members of the BLC, will be run from November 10th-December 16th 2016. If your institution is a BLC member and you would like to register for this course, please click here.

Course purpose

  • A six-week expert-faciliated online course for members of the Boston Libraries Consortium, developing knowledge, skills and confidence to support BLC librarians when negotiating with publishers and other vendors for electronic resources.
  • The course is highly practical, delivering skills and knowledge which BLC librarians/consortia members can apply immediately to on-going and future negotiations, both new deals and renewals


  • Electronic resources continue to bring major change to the provision of teaching and research information, hugely impacting the role and responsibilities of 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 income, 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 libraries and consortia need library staff with strong negotiation knowledge and skills, and yet training in this area continues to be neglected by most LIS degrees.
  • This course has been created to fill this gap, informing and empowering librarians, growing their confidence and skills, and enabling them to gain the best from every negotiation.

A brief history

  • This course is based on the highly successful 1-day in-person workshop delivered since 2008 to library and consortia staff in the UK and Eire (on behalf of UKSG), continental Europe and the Middle East.
  • The online course has been developed to meet demand from international colleagues who cannot attend the in-person workshop.
  • It draws on the same high quality workshop materials, adapted for an online learning environment and delivers the same high quality learning experience, knowledge, skills and tools.

Of the 350+ librarians who have taken either the in-person workshop or the online course to date, 100% would recommend them to colleagues. The vast majority rated their 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 for 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 are welcome.

Learning objectives

You will:

  • Learn proven, highly practical negotiations skills and knowledge which you can use immediately in your professional life;
  • Learn The Four Cornerstones - four key strategies which underpin all successful negotiations;
  • Practice the The Seven Habits intelligent negotiation tactics which will help you get the best deal possible, on pricing and on terms;
  • Practice skills and knowledge in teams, working to resolve realistic negotiation situations;
  • Learn from the FBI and the HBR: powerful questions and proven techniques from the most effective negotiators;
  • Share your negotiation questions, challenges and concerns in a confidential and supportive environment;
  • Build your confidence in relation to publisher negotiations;
  • Learn a powerful model for developing your personal resilience, a capacity proven to enhance negotiation abilities and outcomes (bonus optional 7th session).

How you will learn

  • This course is delivered through weekly live webinars hosted by experienced facilitator and professional coach, Sarah Durrant
  • These live sessions feature key skills and knowledge sharing plus group discussion and coaching
  • Structured weekly 'homework' exercises have been designed to deepen your learning
  • Optional weekly 'buddying' sessions enable you to explore what you’ve learned and practise key skills
  • You will also be able to discuss your negotiation-related issues in our private learning environment
  • There will be opportunities for you to raise your own negotiation issues throughout the course
  • You will also be given practical Handouts and other materials designed to support you in your workplace
  • An optional free bonus session helps build your personal resilience to enhance your negotiation confidence, abilities and outcomes

Course Content

All webinars last 60 minutes unless otherwise stated.

Week 1 Nov 10th: Introduction & Overview

  • Course overview and learning goals
  • Negotiation context and basics
  • Common negotiation challenges
  • The three main negotiation styles
  • Perspectives: building confidence
  • Week 1 Homework – What’s your perspective? 

Week 2 Nov 17th: Negotiation Strategy: Four Cornerstones

  • Introducing the Four Cornerstones - key strategies which will underpin and strengthen your negotiations
  • Explore how each cornerstone contributes to negotiation success
  • Consider how you can incorporate the cornerstones further into your negotiation process
  • Week 2 Homework: Exploring the Four Cornerstones

There will be no webinar during the week of November 24th due to           Thanksgiving. Instead, we will have a 2-hour webinar on December 1st.

    Sessions 3&4 Dec 1st

    Negotiation Tactics Part 1

  • Share three key tactics you need to employ for effective negotiations
  • Explore how each supports you in each stage of the negotiation process
  • Embed each of these tactics into your negotiation process
  • Explore the impact on negotiations of not deploying these tactics
  • Homework: Integrating Negotiation Tactics 1-3

Negotiation Tactics Part 2

  • Share four further key tactics you need to employ for effective negotiations
  • Explore how each supports you in each stage of the negotiation process
  • Embed each of these tactics into your negotiation proces
  • Explore the impact on negotiations of not deploying these tactics
  • Homework: Integrating Negotiation Tactics 4-7

Week 5 Dec 8th: Principles into Practice

  • There is no webinar in Week 5: instead, delegates undertake the Principles into Practice Challenge
  • Working in groups (by phone, Skype, FaceTime etc.), you will apply knowledge and skills
    from the course to resolve a series of realistic mini negotiation scenarios
  • Week 5 Homework: Sharing findings from the challenge in our private online learning environment

Week 6 Dec 15th: Bringing It All Together

  • Review key learning from the Principles Into Practice Challenge
  • From the FBI to the HBR: sharing best practice:
  • Powerful questions to support you during the negotiation process
  • Your key learning from this course
  • Course feedback

Bonus Webinar!

Friday Dec 16th Building Resilience for Confident Negotiations

Taking place on the Friday of the 6th week of the course, this special free bonus webinar is designed to build awareness, knowledge and skills about how our mindset impacts our confidence - and negotiation outcomes.

  • Defines resilience and explore how this vital quality can enhance negotiation outcomes
  • Explores a proven model which will build your personal resilience
  • Integrates this model to build your confidence and resourcefulness when negotiating
  • Homework: Practising your ABCDE

Bonus Content!

Expert Interviews

  • You will also have access to exclusive 'Expert Interviews'. A small but 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 and online course consistently 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
  • stronger 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] Examples: a colleague at a North American library saved twice the cost of her registration within a few weeks of taking the online course and $35,000 on two further negotiations (see first entry under 'Feedback' below).  Colleagues at a library in Eire reported a saving of €5,000 on a single deal within two weeks of taking the in-person workshop. 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.


Feedback from delegates to the first online Negotiation Skills for Librarians course (Jan-Feb 2016):

"Initially, within a few weeks of the end of the class, I negotiated a discount that was double the cost of the course registration, so my Dean was thrilled because she saw such a quick positive return on her investment.  More recently, I negotiated a more substantial discount on a couple of end of year purchases ($35,000). ).  I am fine with you sharing my experience with prospective students because it was a result of taking the class.  There were so many useful tools and takeaways."  A North American librarian who took the online course Jan-Feb 2016

“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*

“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.

“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 learnt 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

 "Excellent – I’m actually looking forward to my next negotiation (-ish!).” Librarian, June 2013

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

About me

  • I am an experienced facilitator and ICF-accredited 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 25 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, training, facilitation and consultancy services. I have worked with a broad range of clients in over 20 countries.

  • In addition to this workshop I also own and facilitate the 1-day in-person resilience-building workshop, Forever Changes and Make Yourself Heard (a 1-day workshop developing confidence in public speaking for new and not-so-new speakers, on behalf of UKSG).

[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.


If you are a member of the Boston Libraries Consortium and would like to register for this course, please click here.


If you have any questions about this course or any of my coaching and learning services, please get in touch.