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ProQuest Acquires Micromedia, Ltd.; Adds More Titles; Upgrades Interface
by
Posted On February 4, 2002
While the Web world of Net newbies swirls with dot-coms and dot-gones, one of the information industry's oldest and steadiest players continues to get the job done, adding new content and new sources to its already impressive aggregations. In several recent arrangements, ProQuest Information and Learning (http://www.il.proquest.com), the digital arm of ProQuest (http://www.proquest.com), has expanded its full-text collection with the addition of books and manuals, along with still more periodical titles. Last week, the company also announced the acquisition of Micromedia, Ltd. (http://www.micromedia.on.ca), a leading Canadian digital information service, from IHS (http://www.ihsgroup.com).

Located in Toronto, the 30-year-old Micromedia licenses information from media, government, and other sources; generates abstracts; and delivers information through formats ranging from print to microform, CD-ROM, and the Web.

In announcing the acquisition, Joe Reynolds, president and CEO of ProQuest Information and Learning, said: "Micromedia's strong relationships with publishers and customers, its quality products, and its distribution network are valuable assets. Its proprietary databases offer 25 years of content, which complements the depth of our existing ProQuest databases. The combination of resources offers new possibilities for innovative products and services. This new relationship also allows possibilities for greater distribution. Through Micromedia's strong presence in and knowledge of the Canadian marketplace, we anticipate becoming the premier information source for libraries in Canada. And ProQuest's strong sales network offers greater potential for distribution of Canadian content into the U.S. and abroad."

Stephen Abram, currently vice president of corporate development for Micromedia, will remain in that position under the renamed Micromedia ProQuest. He looks forward to the new ownership, commenting: "ProQuest has a unique understanding of the library market and the products we create and distribute. This pairing is an ideal combination for customers, publishers, and employees." Already, Abram said that the company has found ProQuest a pleasure to work with as it begins a 3-month strategic-overview period. He said, "They understand our business and us and respect the strength of our brand in Canada. 1+1=3."

Rod Gauvin, senior vice president and general manager of the ProQuest online business, put together the deal. Born in Canada, Gauvin said: "Micromedia is known as ‘Canada's Information People.' We expect to maintain and build on that reputation by adding valuable content to existing products. We are committed to maintaining the quality of Micromedia's product line, including its flagship product, Canadian Almanac & Directory (now in its 155th year of publication), and its renowned CBCA (Canadian Business and Current Affairs) database. The Canadian character of its products will remain, and content additions will expand coverage."

Micromedia products include reference materials covering news, periodicals, and government information; corporate, financial, and securities information, including such products as CanCorp Financials; and directories. Gauvin indicated that although ProQuest hoped to enrich both its own and Micromedia's databases with shared content, at this point the companies plan to maintain separate platforms for each service.

Terms of the agreement were not revealed. Undertakings have already been made to Investment Canada, the Canadian government agency that regulates foreign acquisition of Canadian "cultural properties."

IHS, a $400 million in sales company specializing in engineering information—such as standards, specification, and services to the oil and gas industry—had sought to divest itself of "non-core" businesses. In a January interview in The Wall Street Transcript (http://www.twst.com/ceos.htm), Robert Carpenter, president and CEO of IHS, indicated that the company faced challenges from smaller, price-focused competitors to which they were responding with expanded service and sales to clients. The resources needed to mount the expansion, including new acquisitions, could explain the decision to divest non-core operations.
 

Technical Books
ProQuest has also announced exclusive distribution to academic, public, and school libraries of Safari Tech Books Online, a Web-based service covering technical books and manuals. The agreement also includes nonexclusive rights to the government library market. Safari (http://www.safari.com) will continue to sell subscriptions to the service to corporate libraries, IT departments, and individual users. The service searches hundreds of information technology books in over 20 technical categories. Safari Tech Books Online is a joint venture of O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. and the Pearson Technology Group. Pearson's imprints include Addison-Wesley Professional, Cisco Press, Peachpit Press, Prentice Hall PTR, New Riders, Que, and Sams.

Gauvin said that the new service will let users "search across multiple books simultaneously, allowing the collection of books to be searched as a database rather than as discrete books. Results are ranked by relevancy, helping users to zero in on exactly the information they need.... The quality and breadth of the Pearson and O'Reilly imprints are unrivaled in the IT area. We are delighted to have the opportunity to distribute this content in a searchable format to libraries around the world."

IT topics covered include Microsoft's .NET, Cisco products, Database, Enterprise Computing, Networking, Operating Systems (Windows, Linux, UNIX, Macintosh), Programming and Software Engineering, and Internet (Web, Java, and XML).

A third-party database host carries the actual books online with O'Reilly, Pearson, and now ProQuest supplying transparent interfaces. When asked about the decision to launch digital book services when e-books seem to have fallen on hard times with other publishers, Gauvin said: "We think of the aggregated books as a reference service. We expect users to go to the database, find a book, read a chapter, and copy a section—not to read the whole book, though they still have that option."

Individuals seeking to subscribe to Safari Tech Books Online can acquire credit card access at a Pearson Web outlet, InformIT.com (http://www.informit.com), or Oreilly.com (http://www.oreilly.com). Librarians can contact ProQuest or Safari Tech Books Online for free trial subscriptions.


Periodicals and News Content
From Henry Stewart Publications, ProQuest has acquired the rights to 27 new business periodical titles, including Journal of Change Management, Journal of Financial Services Marketing, Journal of Financial Crime, and Journal of Public Affairs. Based in London with an office in Birmingham, Alabama, Henry Stewart Publications specializes in titles covering marketing and public relations, finance, property, management, and biotechnology.

Gauvin said, "Twenty-five of the titles will be added to ABI/INFORM Global, which will further enhance users' access to quality business information." Both indexing and full text for the titles will appear in various ProQuest databases. All the journals receive double-blind peer review.

The number of full-text titles from Aspen Publishers available through ProQuest will increase from 70 to 150. Aspen, a Wolters Kluwer Group company, publishes in the area of business, health, law, and education. ProQuest plans to add the publications to its Serials in Microform and online curricular products as well as to its general online services. Full text and indexing for the titles will appear in ABI/INFORM Global, ABI/INFORM Trade and Industry, ProQuest Research Library, ProQuest Discovery, ProQuest 5000, and other outlets. New titles include Journal of Health Care Finance, Managed Care Quarterly, Journal of Deferred Compensation, Benefits Law Journal, Journal of Internet Law, Journal of Asset Protection, Journal of Clinical Engineering, and many more.

Expanding its longtime delivery of Dow Jones Interactive content to the academic market, ProQuest will now deliver the full range of Factiva.com offerings. Basically, this expands the content to encompass Reuters Business Briefings material.
 

Upgraded Interface
The latest version of the ProQuest online service, ProQuest 5.1, debuted on January 26. It incorporates a Spanish-language interface on the main and help screens, plus a Spanish version of the Topic Finder section and the Thesaurus to present hierarchies of subject coverage. In keeping with government standards and guidelines for accessibility compliance under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), it offers a text-based alternative interface that works with screen readers to assist the visually and manually handicapped.

The current rolling file of information now covers 3 to 4 years, instead of 2 to 3. The Professional Research Collections section of non-ProQuest databases—including MEDLINE, ERIC, CINAHL, AGRICOLA, PsycINFO, and BIOSIS—now supports ProQuest CrossLinks functionality, Library Holdings, Guided Search, and improved usage statistics. The ProQuest Thesaurus is now free-text searchable. Remote authentication enhancements allow hosting of access methods for remote users.

As a major contributor to Dialog's full-text collection, ProQuest has begun to supply Adobe PDF and Text and Graphic versions for searches conducted via DialogSelect, Dialog1, and through the Dialog Intranet Toolkit. Selected documents with publication dates of January 2000 to the present from ABI/INFORM (File 15), Banking Information Source (File 268), Periodical Abstracts PlusText (File 484), and Accounting and Tax Database (File 485) will offer complete documents—images as well as text.

Adobe PDF documents are exact matches of the original printed versions; Text and Graphic documents provide the full text of the articles, reformatted to link to tables, graphs, and graphics. PDF documents will cost $6.40 and Text and Graphics documents $7.25.


Barbara Quint is senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.

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