Information Update - Fall 2011

A Lighthouse in the Bronx Closes its Doors

In a surprise announcement on June 2, 2011, EBSCO Publishing sent out a message to its customers stating that it had acquired H.W. Wilson's databases and print publications. The H.W. Wilson Company, based in the Bronx, N.Y., since 1917, was founded in Minnesota by Halsey W. Wilson. Wilson's first venture was the "Cumulative Book Index," which sold for $1 when first published in 1898. Wilson placed a 30-foot tall lighthouse resting on a book on top of his Bronx office building as a symbol of his company's mission: "To give guidance to those seeking their way through the maze of books and periodicals, without which they would be lost." (The H. W. Wilson Company, 2011) Since that time, H.W. Wilson has developed and offered around 80 general and specialized databases on the WilsonWeb platform. Wilson's excellence for indexing and database quality has long been recognized by librarians.
The Weinberg Memorial Library currently subscribes to a total of 15 full-text databases and owns five retrospective indexes on the WilsonWeb platform including: Applied Science Full Text, Art Full Text, Biography Index, Biography Index Retrospective, Biological & Agricultural Index Plus, Book Review Digest Plus, Business Full Text, Education Full Text, Education Index Retrospective, ERIC, Essay & General Literature, Essay & General Literature Retrospective, General Science Full Text, Humanities & Social Science Retrospective, Humanities Full Text, Legal Periodicals & Books, Library Literature & Information Science Full Text, Readers' Guide Full Text, Readers' Guide Retrospective, and Social Sciences Full Text. By the end of December 2011, these databases will be migrated over to the EBSCOhost platform. Library users are already familiar with the EBSCOhost database platform through the growing number of databases (18) that the library subscribes to from EBSCO which includes: Academic Search Elite, America: History & Life, ATLA Religion Database, Business Source Elite, Catholic Periodical and Literature Index, ERIC, GreenFILE, Health Source, LISTA, MLA International Bibliography, Newspaper Source, Nursing Reference Center, CINAHL with Full Text, Historical Abstracts, Philosopher's Index, PsycARTICLES, PsycINFO, and Regional Business News.
The WilsonWeb databases to which the library subscribes will not be "going away." They will just be changing their look and functionality. At the same time, EBSCO will be incorporating many of the premier features associated with the WilsonWeb search platform into its EBSCOhost platform. Some of the new features library users can expect to see on EBSCOhost databases include: Wilson's subject thesaurus, Wilson's "names" authority file, and Wilson's unique feature of matching keyword searches against its thesaurus to produce results for the "use for" and "see also" cross-search terms. An example of a "use-for" term would be, searching on Peking and also getting results for Beijing, the official name of that city.
In the future, EBSCO will be offering "super databases" that are the result of combining current WilsonWeb and EBSCOhost databases' full-text content and archive coverage into seven subject areas to create new, comprehensive research resources. The proposed "super databases" are: Art Source, Biography Source, Computers & Applied Sciences Source, Education Source, Humanities Source, Legal Source and Library & Information Science Source. Prices and release date information have not yet been published.
Sadly, EBSCO will not be keeping the celebrated lighthouse or the H.W. Wilson Company offices in the Bronx, but Halsey W. Wilson's bright legacy and contribution to information management will continue on.
(Additional information on EBSCO's acquisition of the H.W. Wilson Company can be found at: and
Narda Tafuri
Pride, Passion, Promise: Experience Our Jesuit Tradition