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ProQuest, libraries and the evolution of research

ProQuest is a composite of companies, each begun by an innovator who was inspired to resolve a challenge for libraries or researchers. As a hub of entrepreneurship, ProQuest’s collective history charts the evolution of the information industry, from the very beginnings of the library profession through the relentless shift from print to electronic resources.

In that spirit, we present a brief summary of more than a century of ProQuest milestones.


R. R. Bowker launches Publishers Weekly. Four years later, he teams with Melville Dewey to publish volume 1 of Library Journal.


The R.R. Bowker Company publishes Periodicals Directory: A Classified Guide to a Selected List of Current Periodicals Foreign and Domestic by Carolyn Ulrich. Its 323 pages capture information for about 6,000 titles.  (Today Ulrichsweb™ captures details for more than 300,000 titles.)


Eugene Power founds UMI with the microfilming of books indexed in the Short Title Catalog at the British Libraries.


The first edition of Books In Print® is published (in 2002 Barnes & Noble names it the Database of Record).


The Association of Research Libraries gives approval for UMI to provide dissertation services, launching Dissertation Abstracts.


The online information retrieval system “Dialog” is created by Roger Summit. Five years later it will become the world's first commercial online service. (“Internet” would not come into common vocabulary for two more decades.)


Bowker is named the U.S. ISBN Agency.


Sir Charles Chadwyck-Healey protects the deteriorating copies of nineteenth century Parliamentary Papers by microfilming their millions of pages. It becomes a turning point for libraries and for Sir Charles’ fledgling eponymous company.


Cambridge Scientific Abstracts gets an early license to experiment with CD-ROM technology and partners with the National Library of Medicine to create Medline on disc, ushering in a new era in information accessibility.


The first Internet accessible instance of UMI launches. It’s called ProQuest Direct.


UMI digitizes Early English Books, enabling libraries to deliver five centuries of world scholarship to the desktops of their users.

Library of Congress names UMI its official off-site repository for American dissertations.


Chadwyck-Healey joins UMI.

While ebooks are in their infancy, Kevin Sayar and Christopher Warnock launch ebrary, a company that will enable libraries to simply and strategically build their collections with models that will prove essential.

University of Washington librarian Peter McCracken teams with his brothers Steve and Mike to develop technological solutions to relieve the headaches of librarians and library patrons in navigating electronic resources. They call their business “Serials Solutions.”


Bowker joins Cambridge Information Group, home of Cambridge Scientific Abstracts.

After dabbling with the name “Bell & Howell Information and Learning” for two short years, UMI adopts the name ProQuest Information and Learning.

ProQuest Historical Newspapers is inaugurated with the innovative digitization of The New York Times archive.


Serials Solutions joins ProQuest Information and Learning.


Cambridge Information Group merges Cambridge Scientific Abstracts with ProQuest Information and Learning to form a single company called ProQuest. Bowker becomes an affiliated business.


Dialog joins ProQuest.


Answering the demand from libraries for a single search box as a gateway to their collections, the Summon®web-scale discovery service debuts.


ebrary joins ProQuest.

ProQuest announces Intota™, a new Software-as-a-Service, web-scale collection management solution that will streamline management of library collections and support the entire resource lifecycle for libraries.


EBL, pioneer and innovator of Demand-driven Acquisition and Non-linear™ Lending for ebooks, joins ProQuest.

ProQuest celebrates the 75th anniversary of Eugene Power’s landmark 1938 project to preserve on microfilm the books indexed in the British Library's Short Title Catalog.

OCLC and ProQuest collaborate to automate the process of keeping e-book holdings from ebrary and EBL – Ebook Library up to date in WorldCat and library catalogs, streamlining librarian workflows and improving user experiences.

ProQuest and Fairchild Fashion Media (FFM) team to support research into the business of fashion by creating the first-ever digital archive of one of the industry’s most revered titles - Women’s Wear Daily (WWD).

ProQuest launches Trench Journals, a landmark database offering unparalleled access to rare and unique sources on the common experiences of First World War servicemen and women.

The completely rebuilt Dialog® information service makes its official debut at the Special Libraries Association Conference as ProQuest Dialog, the service reinvents a classic resource making its rich, unique content – about a billion documents – accessible for the first time to searchers of all skill levels.


ProQuest acquires Pi2 Solutions, an industry leader in product literature databases, workflow tools and related outsourcing services for global pharmaceutical companies.

ProQuest digitizes the papers of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), making their organizational records and their leaders’ personal papers accessible to researchers through the renowned History Vault collection Black Freedom Struggle in the 20th Century.

ProQuest and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) team to create the first online archive of the EIU’s global economic analyses – a single source for unbiased, comprehensive reports and statistical data on approximately 200 countries.

ProQuest and Rutgers University team to make the University’s acclaimed Thomas A. Edison Papers more accessible to scholars and students around the world.


ProQuest becomes the first vendor to be accepted as a partner in the Library of Congress’ Electronic Cataloging in Publication (ECIP) Cataloging Partnership and BIBCO Programs.

Through its affiliate Bowker, ProQuest acquires SIPX, creator of a digital course materials solution that addresses copyright and costs concerns for universities. ProQuest completes the acquisition of Coutts Information Services and MyiLibrary from Ingram Content Group, setting the stage to streamline print and “e” book workflows.

Library technology leader Ex Libris joins ProQuest. Together, ProQuest and Ex Libris commit to improve current products such as Alma, Aleph, bX, Intota, Primo, Rosetta, SFX, SIPX, Summon, 360 Link, Voyager, Leganto reading-list solution and campusM mobile campus solution as well as innovate all new solutions.

ProQuest platform exceeds 1 billion searchable items with content spanning 6 centuries and comprising video, historic and current newspapers and magazines, scholarly journals, diaries and personal notebooks, dissertations, declassified government documents and much more.


ProQuest partners with USC Shoah Foundation to become the exclusive distributor of the acclaimed Visual History Archive to college and university libraries around the world.

The launch of ProQuest Ebook Central™ enables libraries to significantly improve users’ research outcomes and boost the productivity of their staff.

Alexander Street, a leading provider of streaming videos and music as well as award-winning primary source collections, joins ProQuest as a new business unit.

Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, becomes the first global library vendor to establish a data center in China.


ProQuest and CALIS expand their long-standing collaboration to enable global access to more than 270,000 dissertation abstracts from China’s premier universities.

ProQuest teams with PatSeer to offer customers Gridlogics’ web-based platform, where they can search full-text patent authorities and manipulate results with powerful analytics and visualization tools.

ProQuest connects text and video by connecting the ProQuest platform and Academic Video Online, offering a more powerful user experience and better contextual and serendipitous discovery.