Medialab Solutions, the Amsterdam-based company that develops and supports AquaBrowser, has been acquired by R. R. Bowker, a company that produces bibliographic content products. Medialab Solutions developed AquaBrowser, which has proven to be popular, as an alternative interface for library catalogs in public libraries. AquaBrowser finds use in about 80 percent of public libraries in The Netherlands and about 120 libraries in North America. About 2,000 libraries worldwide have implemented AquaBrowser.
Medialab Solutions currently has a number of distribution arrangements for AquaBrowser. The company markets the product directly to the libraries in its home territory. The Library Corporation (TLC) serves as its exclusive distributor for AquaBrowser in North America and Singapore. TLC signed a three-year renewal of this exclusive distribution contract in January 2007. In June 2007 BOND GmbH became the exclusive distributor for AquaBrowser for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Infor Library Solutions (formerly Geac Library Solutions) signed on as the exclusive distributor in the UK and Ireland. These distribution agreements will remain in force following the acquisition of Medialab Solutions by Bowker.
In recent months Medialab Solutions has announced a hosted version of AquaBrowser that will provide a convenient and inexpensive approach for small libraries to implement this interface. In April 2007 the company announced a set of enhancements to AquaBrowser, called My Discoveries, that add personalization features to the product and extend it to include Web 2.0 concepts such as end-user tagging.
Bowker is a major supplier of bibliographic content and services, including Books in Print and the Ulrich’s Periodicals Directory and ulrichsweb.com. The company serves as the official ISBN Agency for the United States, assuming responsibility for assigning this critical identifier for all books published in the U.S. In September 2004 Bowker acquired Syndetic Solutions, the leading supplier of book jacket images, tables of contents, and other bibliographic content enhancements.
Since its 2001 acquisition from Reed International, R. R. Bowker is wholly owned by Cambridge International Group. CIG, a privately held interest, also owns ProQuest, RefWorks, Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the Bach to Rock chain of music schools, and Navtech, which develops aeronautical navigation systems. ProQuest is a new company formed in February 2007 by the merger of CSA, already in the CIG portfolio, and ProQuest Information and Learning acquired in December 2006. Serials Solutions, acquired by ProQuest Information and Learning in July 2004 also resides within the CIG fold.
In a separate announcement, Serials Solutions announced in June 2007 that it will be taking responsibility for the Ulrichseb.com and the Ulrich’s Serials Analysis System. Effective August 1, 2007, Serials Solutions will act as the exclusive developer and distributor for these two products. Responsibility for these products shifts from R.R. Bowker to the Serials Solutions division of ProQuest, all companies in the CIG portfolio. Placing Ulrichsweb.com, the Ulrich’s Serials Analysis System, and Serials Solutions family of electronic resource management products within the same organization will facilitate the development of greater interoperability among the products and will present opportunities for cross marketing.