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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.