Top Vendors’ Announcements Reflect Familiar Themes at ALA Midwinter Meeting
Posted On January 24, 2005
While the nation’s public and academic libraries report rises in patron visits, particularly to their computer rooms, what do library vendors have to offer librarians? At its annual Midwinter Meeting, held in Boston Jan. 14–19, 2005, the American Library Association (http://www.ala.org) drew a “record breaking 13,230 librarians, publishers, and other leaders in the library and information industry … to discuss the various challenges that face America’s libraries.” But the press kits for three leading database aggregators—ProQuest Information and Learning (http://www.il.proquest.com), Thomson Gale (http://www.gale.com), and EBSCO (http://www.ebsco.com)—seemed to show a commitment to a traditional view of library development.
Library funding issues took center stage at ALA Midwinter, with a reported 1 million residents of Erie County, N.Y., and Salinas, Calif., scheduled to lose public library services and nationwide cuts in library funding reaching $82 million in one 16-month period. The conference marked a discussion of ALA’s new strategic planning for the future of the library profession. [Those interested in “feeling” the meeting, even retrospectively, might check the blog that the Public Library Association, an ALA division, ran for it at http://www.plablog.org.]
Three themes seemed to characterize the announcements from the three database aggregators: ProQuest, Thomson Gale, and EBSCO.
Continued commitment to library-only products and services:
• The Shakespeare Collection from Thomson Gale will compile a well-integrated array of Shakespearean material, both fully annotated scholarly editions of the complete works and comparative image collections from leading Shakespearean collections, plus substantial critical material and background studies, including full-text journals on literary, historical, and interdisciplinary topics and works of Shakespeare’s contemporaries. It’s sort of the Folger Library in a box, so to speak, but marketed only to libraries at institutional subscription rates.
• Though one can check Thomson Gale’s Book Review Index online with Thomson Dialog, to get access to the 634,000 full-text reviews and links to others, users must subscribe to InfoTrac OneFile or Expanded Academic ASAP and to Thomson Gale’s Book Review Index Online. Dialog informed me that its version of the file has not been updated since early last year.
• EBSCO continues to corral more databases into its EBSCOhost platform. Several recent arrangements confine certain sources to only EBSCOhost—or close to it. The American Psychological Association (APA) has a suite of five databases—PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, PsycEXTRA, PsycBOOKS, and PsycCRITIQUES—that are now all available only through EBSCOhost and APA’s own PsycNET. The major databases in the suite are available elsewhere (in particular at PsycINFO) in services such as Ovid, Dialog, etc. However, combined access to all five files and any access to PsycEXTRA (a bibliographic and full-text database companion to the scholarly PsycINFO file reflecting reports, magazines, newspapers, and other gray literature) and the new PsycCRITIQUES of full-text reviews of books and even popular films will come only from EBSCOhost and PsycNET.
• ProQuest Information and Learning will introduce The Boston Globe to its ProQuest Historical Newspapers collection in March. In the initial release, the digitized image file will cover the first published edition in 1872 through 1922. In the announcement, ProQuest specified that “the resource will be available to academic institutions and libraries, primary and secondary schools, and government and corporate libraries.”
• A new Latin American Newsstand from ProQuest covers seven Brazilian newspapers; three Mexican newspapers; two newspapers each from Argentina, Costa Rica, Peru, and Uruguay; and single newspapers from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela. It also adds sources from regional magazines and wire services, such as Noticias Financieras, Pulso Latinoamericano, InfoAmericas, IPS-Inter Press Service, El Reporte Delta, and Business Wire Latin America. Interfaces are available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Continued coverage of traditional content:
• EBSCO will add The Music Index from Harmonie Park Press to its 150 database collection on the EBSCOhost platform. Published since 1949, The Music Index constitutes a comprehensive annual subject-author bibliographic guide to music literature as represented in some 725 music periodicals from 40 countries in 23 languages.
• EBSCO will also add the Mental Measurements Yearbook series from the Buros Institute. This tool contains critical, authoritative evaluations for more than 2,000 commercial tests available for educators, psychologists, and businesses to measure aptitude, achievement, intelligence, etc.
• The New Republic Archive will go up on EBSCOhost as a stand-alone file with coverage of more than 4,550 issues of this leading journal of opinion, dating back to 1914. The database contains more than 82,000 PDF files and updates continually with current issues.
• Cambridge University Press will add several reference books to the collection of e-books in Gale’s Virtual Reference Library early in 2005. Titles include A Dictionary of Literary Symbols, The Cambridge Dictionary of Statistics (2nd edition), The Cambridge World History of Food, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (2nd edition), and more.
Enhancements of existing products and services:
• Gale’s Virtual Reference Library version 2.0 has been upgraded to the new Thomson Gale database platform that supports cross-searching for all titles. More customization is offered, including a configurable user interface that supports five library-specific links, such as “Ask a Librarian” or OPAC links. The package offers xreferplus’ collection of 165 sources as part of its catalog of 500 e-books. However, libraries must subscribe to e-books individually.
• Thomson Gale’s History Resource Center has expanded its coverage from the “Modern World” (its former subtitle), to all the “World.” It has doubled its original content and now extends back to 3200 B.C. and even earlier.
• EBSCO has introduced a 7,300-term Communication Thesaurus as an enhancement to its Communication & Mass Media Complete database, available only on EBSCOhost. Built around a base of Library of Congress subject headings, EBSCO tapped some 80 additional sources to produce the browsable authority file for the file that indexes and abstracts up to 400 journals with more than 230 available in full text.
• Users of EBSCOhost-based Business Source Premier or Business Source Corporate collections can expect to see a new business search interface with new search capabilities. The new interface will support searching by source type (academic journals, company profiles, market research reports, product reviews, etc.), as well as browsing for company profiles, industry profiles, country reports, and market research reports. Both basic and advanced search screens will be available with library administrators having the option to decide which of the two different advanced search screens their patrons should view.
• For the secondary school market, EBSCO will provide a new Student Research Center interface alternative. Students will have the option to select content sources by type (e.g., magazines, newspapers, biographies, country reports, film, and video) as well as by topic headings. The package will include an online dictionary and encyclopedia, lists of the top searches of the day, and the option to limit search results by Lexile reading levels.
• ProQuest Information and Learning continues to build and enhance its 19th-century public domain collection—even in the face of Google’s digitization project with major research libraries. Its recently acquired Nineteenth Century Short-Title Catalogue List (NSTC) is now available on its Chadwyck-Healey platform with several enhancements. The NSTC provides 1.2 million bibliographic citations to the merged 19th-century holdings (actually 1801 to 1919) from the catalogs of eight of the world’s top research libraries in the U.K. and the U.S. The enhancements include open URL outbound linking, searching and browsing of multiple index fields, saved and combined search sets, direct export of citations to bibliographic software packages, etc.
Some announcements even covered—dare we mention it? —print! The Charles Scribners’ Sons imprint of Thomson Gale has issued a new edition of the New Dictionary of the History of Ideas in six volumes for $695. New ideas? Offline?!? Thomson Gale announced a new print edition of West’s Encyclopedia of American Law. The encyclopedia is also available as an e-book in Gale’s Virtual Reference Library, but that fact did not make the press kit for ALA Midwinter. Price for the 13-volume print product is $1,195, while the supposedly less expensive (to produce and deliver) version of the e-book title starts at $1,314.50. (The price goes up depending upon the size and type of library.)
Strange new world?
Barbara Quint was 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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