Magazine article American Libraries

Corporate Buying Fever Hits Library Marketplace

Magazine article American Libraries

Corporate Buying Fever Hits Library Marketplace

Article excerpt

A run of corporate acquisitions, mergers, and cooperative agreements among library/information suppliers this summer has librarians asking such key questions as who owns what, how will services be affected, and what will they cost?

The roundup below addresses the ownership question; answers to other queries depend on whom one asks. Some new owners are assuring customers that services will be improved and expanded, but warning that "doing things right" may be costly. Librarians are concerned, as always, that large corporations will be less enthusiastic than cottage-industry enterpreneurs about low-profit library services.

Observers of the library industry have ventured that the Xerox Corporation was never "comfortable" with its ownership of the R.R. Bowker Co., which, along with University Microfilm and other holdings, Xerox offered for sale this spring. The International Thomson Organisation Ltd. (ITOL), which in May added the Gale Research Co. to its Library-related holdings (AL, June, p. 370), took a good look at Bowker, then pulled out of negotiations to buy. At this writing, the Bowker publishing group (Library Journal, School Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, etc.) is likely to be embraced by the Cahners empire of trade magazines.

ITOL, in the meantime, broadened its UTLAS bibliographic enterprise by acquiring exclusive rights to the ALIS III automation software developed by the Data Phase Corp. and by integrating the REMARC retrospective conversion service into its product line. REMARC is a product of Carrollton Press, an ITOL company.

At a July 6 press conference during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, UTLAS President Art Parker noted that "there were a lot of sink holes if we were to buy the [Data Phase] business, so we bought ALIS III as an asset--including a group of staff people, but not including a customer base. We will be subcontracting to support ALIS III customers, but will not be handling residual claims."

In response to questions, Parker also said that UTLAS is pursuing marketing agreements with CL Systems Inc. (CLSI) in areas that will not compete with ALIS III marketing.

CLSI, in its turn, was acquired this spring by TBG (formerly Thyssen-Bornemisza), a worldwide corporation with 1984 sales of some $1.7 billion. Richard Goldberg will remain president of the library systems firm, which expects to top its competitors with $25 million in 1985 sales. CLSI is negotiating, along with UTLAS, for the prize of automating a consortium of New York, Brooklyn, and Queens Borough Public Libraries.

Among other recent transactions:

* Gaylord Bros. Inc. brought Library Systems and Services (LSSI), a distributor of laser-readable storage disks and the MiniMARC system.

* Macmillan acquired G.K. Hall, Marquis Who's Who, and other publishing enterprises from ITT.

* OCLC and the British Library have arranged for UKMARC records to be added to the OCLC database and for OCLC members to have access to British Library Lending Division materials via the OCLC Interlibrary Loan subsystem.

* The British Library Board is negotiating an agreement allowing Carrollton Press to computerize its Catalogue to Printed Books, an index to over 8 million items.

* The Follett Corp. purchased the Library Software Company.

As new Dean, Wedgeworth to seek "world's-best" stature for Columbia SLS

After 13 years as executive director of the American Library Association, Robert Wedgeworth will become dean of the Columbia University School of Library Service in New york City Aug. 31.

The Columbia library school is america's oldest, founded by Melvil Dewey in 1887. Two years later it moved to Albany to become the New York State Library School. In 1926, the school returned to Columbia and was merged with the New York Public Library library school. Richard Darling, dean since 1970, retired last year (AL, April 1984, p. …

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