Magazine article Information Today

To Bq, from ProQuest

Magazine article Information Today

To Bq, from ProQuest

Article excerpt

[Editor's Note: In the February 2007 issue of Information Today, columnist Barbara Quint devoted her Up Front With Barbara Quint column to what "sound" advice could "a consumer advocate, such as myself, give the new owners of all this luscious, unparalleled content" as ProQuest Information and Learning merged with CSA. bq's advice in her "Dear Marty/Dear Matt" column was taken very seriously by the key players at ProQuest, so much so that Marty Kahn, CEO, and Matt Dunie, president, decided to write a response to bq about their insights, thoughts, and plans after the merger. Here, then, is their response.]

Dear Barbara:

Shortly after Cambridge Information Group announced its plans to acquire ProQuest Information and Learning and merge it with CSA, you interviewed us-the new senior management team of what was then called ProQuest CSA. It was, as always, an interesting discussion, and, in the course of it, we asked you for your ideas on where to take this new company. A foolhardy question by most publishers' standard-asking Barbara Quint for her opinions means you'll get them ... invariably in a pointed, public way.

But as a company in control of its own destiny and with a long-run view, ProQuest (our permanent name) is in a unique position to encourage and explore outside voices. So, when you responded to our question with "Dear Marty/Dear Matt," a column devoted to "tips" for how not to screw up a company that has an important tradition in the information business and great potential for the future, we listened, we evaluated, we matched it against our plans as a reference point from an information consumer advocate. Your column became part of a comprehensive research program that tapped our customers, our employees, and other essential audiences for their thoughts, ideas, and opinions about how ProQuest would move forward.

Now, as the dust has settled on this merger, we're responding to your column to let you know where we stand on your tips.

Tip No. 1: Content Is King

We couldn't agree more. You said, "In the information field, the three key assets are content, content, and content. Don't let anything diminish what you already have: no cutbacks in production and no production shutdowns of temporarily less revenue-generating content. In fact, this is the time to reach out for new content, particularly if it fits with established content streams."

We could not agree more. Our strategy going forward is to unlock content. We'll continually hunt it down and get it out to researchers. This includes our own information vault, where we are identifying the properties stored on microfilm that would better serve serious researchers and librarians, if they were available digitally. Additionally, we'll continue the tradition of building strong partnerships with information creators, enhancing access with robust searching and a larger information context. Our job is to consistently add to the pool of what you describe as ProQuest's "luscious, unparalleled content" (a nice turn of phrase, thank you).

But we want to add that it's more than having the content-it's about creating clear signposts that allow researchers to find it easily. That's an integral part of our future-a strength that will be leveraged to its fullest. CSA Illustrata is a great example. It uncovers illustrations and tables in content through a process of deep Web indexing. We're accelerating the growth of this product's content because of its ability to unearth content that would remain largely invisible to researchers. And there's more to come. In short, we pledge to push the envelope on abstracting and indexing-the very foundation of accessibility. …

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