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CIC's Virtual Modernization premiers in EEBO and Literature Online

ProQuest has partnered with the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC) to add its Virtual Modernization tool to research staples Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Literature Online®.  The technology allows users to search databases using modern English spellings and automatically retrieve instances of early modern spelling variants.  ProQuest is the first commercial information provider to employ Virtual Modernization in its products.

"ProQuest took an early interest in this project because we recognized it as a landmark advance in research that relies on early English texts," said Mary Sauer-Games, vice president, Chadwyck-Healey publishing.  "With digital access to older texts expanding rapidly, technologies such as this are essential to support serious research."

Virtual Modernization addresses the critical stumbling block of inconsistent spellings common to early English texts -- a problem that causes users to miss material relevant to their research.  Simple to use, the technology employs a "variant spellings" box -- checked by default -- that appears on the Basic Search, Advanced Search and Periodicals Search screens of EEBO and Literature Online. When users conduct a keyword search, they automatically retrieve all instances of the search term and its early variant forms.  For example, a search on the word murder will retrieve not only murder, but also the variants murther, murdre, murdir and mvrder.  Another option will also be available:  A "check for variant spellings" that allows browsing and manual selection of the particular variant forms of the search term and terms that can build a more targeted search.

Virtual Modernization was developed by a programming team in the Academic Technologies department of Northwestern University building on research conducted by Professor Martin Mueller. The two-year development phase was sponsored by the Center for Library Initiatives of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, or CIC, a consortium of 12 Midwest research universities, with additional funding support from ProQuest.  The project is continuing, improving the tool to include "Lemmatization."  Lemmatization will allow users to bundle different forms of a word under the form in which the word is likely to appear in a dictionary. Thus a search on love would retrieve all variant spellings of love, loves, loveth, loving, and loved.  ProQuest will release its Lemmatization tool in EEBO in 2008.  Like Virtual Modernization, it will be standard feature and added at no charge. 

Virtual Modernization will be available in EEBO and Literature Online by January 2008.  For more information, visit

About ProQuest
ProQuest creates specialized information resources and technologies that propel successful research, discovery, and lifelong learning. A global leader in serving libraries of all types, ProQuest offers the expertise of such respected brands as Chadwyck-Healey™, UMI®, SIRS®, and eLibrary®. With Serials Solutions®, Ulrich's™, RefWorks®, COS™, Dialog® and now Bowker® part of the ProQuest brand family, the company supports the breadth of the information community with innovative discovery solutions that power the business of books and the best in research experience.

More than a content provider or aggregator, ProQuest is an information partner, creating indispensable research solutions that connect people and information. Through innovative, user-centered discovery technology, ProQuest offers billions of pages of global content that includes historical newspapers, dissertations, and uniquely relevant resources for researchers of any age and sophistication—including content not likely to be digitized by others. Inspired by its customers and their end users, ProQuest is working toward a future that blends information accessibility with community to further enhance learning and encourage lifelong enrichment.

For more information, visit or the ProQuest parent company website,

10 January 2008

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