Companies operating in the K-12 and academic library space will often time their major product rollouts for the summer to coincide with the start of the new academic year. Smaller upgrades and enhancements are generally timed for the midpoint, usually in December or January. ProQuest Information and Learning (http://www.il.proquest.com) has done just that. In January it launched ProQuest 5.1, with enhancements like an ADA-compliant interface and a Spanish-language interface for its online information service. Now it has announced that it will launch a major upgrade on July 28. The company gave library customers a preview of the new ProQuest 6.0 service at the recent ALA and SLA annual meetings.
The ProQuest 6.0 interface will include enhanced tools and features for linking, extensive coverage date information, a new title list system, new French and German user interfaces, and other improved functionality. The ProQuest service delivers the full text of more than 5,000 publications from over 3,000 publishing partners, with new materials added regularly.
The most important new feature in ProQuest 6.0 is the ProQuest CrossLinks Local Holdings Administrator, which provides a convenient method to set up and maintain links from ProQuest holdings to other full-text resources-such as e-journals, aggregator databases, and SFX-as well as to library OPACs. (ProQuest has supported OpenURL linking since its ProQuest 4.1 release in January 2001, when CrossLinks was originally introduced.) Predefined links are provided for services such as SFX, and linking partners, including Swets Blackwell, ingenta, OCLC, Academic Press, and the American Institute of Physics. Additionally, ProQuest customers can create custom predefined links to their library's various electronic resources.
Since linking is one of the hottest trends these days, all vendors are working to accommodate and streamline the administration of a local library's holdings and links. Librarians are asking for and expecting to get these capabilities. I asked Tina Creguer, ProQuest Information and Learning's director of communications, how the new version stacks up against products from competitors Gale and EBSCO. She wisely replied, "We try to stay focused on our customers, not our competitors." She noted that all the enhancements in ProQuest 6.0 were selected and prioritized for implementation based on customers' needs and requests.
I asked Todd Fegan, vice president of ProQuest product management, about future developments. He indicated that support for OpenURL and other linking developments would be ongoing as ProQuest-and other vendors-worked to help libraries integrate as many library resources as possible. He noted that the OpenURL is still evolving and is being reviewed by NISO now, so that support within ProQuest would evolve as well. A new trial version of OpenURL is expected for January 2003, and a version 1.0 might emerge by summer 2003.
Fegan also said that ProQuest would work to tailor its products even more closely to users' needs and would be introducing appropriate applications to address specific research requirements. With many vendors racing to add various technological capabilities and user-support features, he feels that what continues to distinguish ProQuest are the quality and value of its human indexing and abstracts.
The linking support and administration functions aren't the only new features in ProQuest 6.0. From a number of screens, users can now get more extensive information on publication coverage dates, including dates of full-text and citation/abstract coverage, as well as any embargo information and coverage gaps for each title. A feature that will probably be very popular with librarians is the new title list system (available to anyone at http://www.il.proquest.com) that allows users to view and download title lists for ProQuest products. The enhancements include additional output formats (including Excel), indication of any embargoes, summary reports (such as numbers of titles, peer-reviewed titles, and embargoed titles), and more. According to Creguer, the lists are now more accurate and sophisticated.
Other improvements in ProQuest 6.0 include the following:
- The layout for the topic trees in the Topic Finder feature now more clearly illustrates the structure of the tree, allowing for easier topic navigation.
- Enhancements to the Browse Lists feature make it easier to browse and search for index terms, including subjects, companies, people, and places. To further focus the search, the Narrow Term feature provides a list of index terms related to the search topic.
- Besides the new German and French interfaces, new publications in German, French, and Spanish are being added to ProQuest databases.
- A new Recent Search page allows users to more easily combine multiple searches.
ProQuest also recently announced an agreement with The Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. (http://www.kiplinger.com) that will bring 10 Kiplinger personal finance and business forecasting titles in full text to various databases available on the ProQuest system. Full-text coverage for Kiplinger's Personal Finance begins in January 1992. And because the agreement also includes rights to digitize its backfile as part of the company's Digital Vault program, full-page-image coverage is planned dating to 1947, the year of the publication's inception. Coverage for other Kiplinger titles begins in the current year. The Kiplinger publications will also be available through the ProQuest's Serials in Microform program, as well as through the company's XanEdu online curricular products.