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Magazines > Information Today > January 2003
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Information Today
Vol. 20 No. 1 — January 2003
COLUMNS & NEWS
NewsBreak Update
By Paula Hane

With several key conferences occurring at the end of the year—Internet Librarian 2002 in November and Online International 2002 in December—the company press releases have really been bombarding my electronic desk over the last month or two. Such a busy period seemed a fitting time to work on the launch of this new column. 

Each month I'll provide a concise summary and analysis of important information industry news. I'll discuss items that I've chosen for our NewsBreaks and Weekly News Digests (posted each Monday morning at http://www.infotoday.com), update previous news reports, and comment on the trends that I see. 

My mission for our coverage is to thoroughly dissect (tear apart, mistrust, fact check, etc.) press releases and other news items, ask tough questions, dig out the facts that I think readers need to know, and then attempt to put the news in perspective. I'm lucky to have a fine team of advisors and reporters who work closely with me: Barbara Quint, contributing editor for NewsBreaks and editor of Searcher; Marydee Ojala, editor of ONLINE; Dick Kaser, vice president of content for Information Today, Inc.; and regular contributors like Nancy Lambert, Miriam Drake, and Richard W. Wiggins. 

I also rely on a network of colleagues (folks like Gary Price and Tara Calishain) to keep me posted. Please let me know about news items that you think we might not notice. I'm always ready to listen to tips (or gossip) or check out an item of interest. We also welcome comments on any of our articles. And now, on to the news. 

Online Information 2002 

While there wasn't any really earthshaking news from this London conference, a number of products and enhancements were announced. The following are a few items of interest. Some may be the subject of upcoming columns or reviews. 

  • Factiva announced enhancements to Factiva.com. The company continues on track with its steady and ongoing commitment to add global content and functionality improvements to its flagship service. Researchers now have access to historical market data from Reuters and SunGard, as well as a new Japanese-language interface and the Celex database of European Union documents. 

  • Dialog's NewsRoom service is now available through Dialog NewsEdge. Dialog also announced the launch of its new Domain Names Database. This resource, which is produced with SnapNames, provides both current and historical ownership records. Barbara Quint reported on the new database (File 225) in a December NewsBreak (http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb021202-1.htm) and even offered some interesting searcher tips for its use. 

  • BIOSIS announced the launch of BiologyBrowser, an interactive portal designed for the life sciences community. It offers interactive discussion forums, more than 12,000 quality-controlled Web links, science news, and other free resources. 

  • The British Library has integrated Adobe Content Server encryption and Adobe Acrobat eBook Reader software into its electronic document delivery operations. This will allow customers of its "inside" service to order Adobe PDF files of articles from publishers on a strict pay-per-view basis. Elsevier Science will make articles from 1,700 of its titles available in PDF. Other publishers include S. Karger AG and Kluwer Academic Publishers. 

  • Elsevier Science announced its Library Connect program, which is designed to provide information about electronic publishing and digital libraries. 

  • Thomson Derwent announced the release of Derwent Analytics, a new desktop data-mining and visualization software product for patent information. 

  • EuroInfoPool is a new portal to official registered data from more than 18 million European companies. The portal will also provide access to credit rating reports, covering more than 22 million European companies. 

  • STN Easy for Intranets has been enhanced. 

  • xrefer announced that it will release in early 2003 a new content-selection system for xreferplus, its digital reference library. 

  • ISI announced that it will add personalization and alerting to the ISI Web of Knowledge in 2003. 

Tierney Update: Moving On

In November 2002, we reported the resignation of Patrick Tierney as head of Thomson Financial. (See http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb021125-1.htm.) His move sparked a shift in managementat Thomson Corp.—a sort of musical chairsamong its top executives. (See coverageof Thomson's new look on p. 34.) At thattime, Tierney said hisdecision "stemmed from a combination of personal issues and a desire to meet new professional challenges" and that he was off to ski in Colorado. Now it looks likea new challenge was just waiting in the wings at a rival company. 

On Dec. 5, Reed Elsevier announced that it appointed Tierney to the new role of CEOof its global education publishing division. Tierney is joining the company this month and will be based at the U.S. corporate headquarters in New York. He is a main board director, reporting to Crispin Davis, Reed Elsevier's CEO. Tierney is responsible for the U.S. schools publishing and testing businesses, the U.K. education business, and the international schools publishing business. 

Since the education sector has faced and will continue to face difficult market conditions for the immediate future, Tierney will get his challenge. In Reed Elsevier's latest financial report, the education business announced mixed results, with a declining market and cautious spending. However, there has been some positive growth in contracts and better performance and growth in the U.S. than in international markets. 

Recent News from OneSource 

In late November, OneSource announced three new content-based products: a Global Business Taxonomy; Content Optimization Services; and AppLink version 2.0, a Web services-based toolkit for business information integration. Marydee Ojala reported this news (http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/nb021125-2.htm), calling it an interesting directional change for the company. She said it marks a transition for OneSource from being just a subscription-based product provider. With these new offerings, OneSource is leveraging its experience in categorization and data integration to help companies manage their internal information. 

OneSource is not abandoning its information-retrieval role, however. The company's Business Browser product line integrates business and financial information on more than 1 million public and private companies from more than 25 information providers, drawing on over 2,500 sources of content. It offers Global Business Browser in U.S., U.K., and European editions. 

OneSource recently announced that it's launching the OneSource Global Business Browser Asia-Pacific product for companies conducting business or seeking opportunities in this important economic area. According to the announcement, the Asia-Pacific region represents approximately 30 percent of the world's gross domestic product and holds the world's second (Japan) and sixth (China) largest economies. OneSource covers 260,000 companies from 20 Asia-Pacific nations, as well as an additional 80,000 leading global companies. 

Scientific Information Update

In November we reported that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had discontinued the PubSCIENCE site. (See http://www.infotoday.com/newsbreaks/wnd021118.htm.) A message on the site states: "Scientific and technical information is available at www.osti.gov. Specific links are available for journal literature at www.osti.gov/journal_sources.html." (Searchers are sent to Infotrieve and Scirus, both from commercial endeavors, and the DOE's Energy Citations Database.) 

PubSCIENCE was a Web service developed by the DOE's Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), in cooperation with publishers, to facilitate the searching and access of peer-reviewed journal literature in the physical sciences and other energy-related disciplines. PubSCIENCE allowed users to search across abstracts and citations of multiple publishers at no cost and then hyperlink to the publisher's server to obtain the full-text article.The service was opposed by some commercial database producers as being unfairly competitive. 

Now, a new gateway for science information has been launched by a group of government agencies. Science.gov, which is hosted by OSTI, is being billed as the "FirstGov for Science Cross-Agency Portal." This site was developed by an interagency working group made up of 14 scientific and technical information organizations from 10 major science agencies. Support for building the gateway came from CENDI, an interagency committee of federal science and technology information program managers. Science.gov has been in the planning stages for about 2 years. PubSCIENCE was originally slated to have been a part of the portal. 

Science.gov contains "reliable information resources selected by the respective agencies as their best science information." Two major types of information are included: selected authoritative science Web sites and databases of technical reports, journal articles, conference proceedings, and other published materials. (The specific content varies by database.) The Web pages and databases can be searched individually or simultaneously from the search page.According to an FAQ on the site, "The information content results from government-funded research and development or similar activities in which there is a U.S. Government investment." Watch for additional coverage about this new resource. 

The M&A Scene

Consolidation within the information industry continues. D&B has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Hoover's, the Austin, Texas-based business information provider. Reasons for the D&B purchase include Hoover's strong subscription business,complementary products, and strength in the small-business market. The acquisition is expected to close in the first quarter of 2003, subject to the usual approvals. 

D&B is paying $7 per Hoover's share, valuing the deal at $117 million. With Hoover's cash of $36 million, it means D&B is effectively paying just $81 million. Hoover's had looked like a takeover candidate for a while. At a time when many companies are struggling, it recently reported annual revenue of $32 million and its first full year of profitability, with net income of $1 million. This looks like a smart move by D&B, with its stated desire to grow its e-business. Some searchers are worried, however, about the possible loss of the valued Hoover's content, which has been available for free. 

In addition, ProQuest announced that it has signed a letter of intent to buy bigchalk.com. Terms of the acquisition have not been disclosed. bigchalk develops and markets products and services for research, curriculum integration, assessment, peer collaboration, and professional development for teachers, librarians, and school administrators in the K-12 educational community. 

bigchalk was founded in December 1999 when several education companies—Infonautics, ProQuest Information and Learning, MediaSeek Technologies, and HomeworkCentral.com—formed a partnership and merged their K-12 resources. ProQuest,therefore, already owns 38 percent of bigchalk
.com. But in recent financial filings, ProQuest had valued its "carrying value of this investment" at $0. 

That's all for this month. Check http://www.infotoday.com for news that's posted every Monday morning. To make things easier, sign up for our free weekly e-mail newsletter, NewsLink, which provides abstracts and links to the stories we post.

 


Paula J. Hane is Information Today, Inc.'s news bureau chief and editor of NewsBreaks. Her e-mail address is phane@infotoday.com.
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