News Release

Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners

DATE: May 04, 2012
CONTACT: Celeste Bruno
Communications Specialist
1-800-952-7403 x208

Statewide Electronic Online Content Database Contracts Awarded

The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC) and the Massachusetts Library System (MLS) are pleased to announce that the MBLC has awarded contracts to Gale Cengage, Inc., ProQuest, Inc. and Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. for statewide online magazine, newspaper, e-reference and encyclopedia databases to begin on July 1, 2012.  Massachusetts residents rely on these resources for trustworthy online information. Over 10 million full-text articles are downloaded each year by residents. “Our students use them every day for class assignments; they are an extremely valuable resource,” said one librarian.

No library card is needed for residents to use the resources. They can access them by going to their library’s webpage or through “More and more residents are going online for information. By working with MLS, we’re able to give them unprecedented access to an extensive amount of online information they can trust.” said MBLC Director Robert Maier. These resources are not available to consumers on the Internet without a paid subscription.

Among the resources are 22 periodical, biographical, e-reference and news databases offering an array of subjects covering general and scholarly interest, biographies, science, consumer health and nursing and allied health, reader’s advisory, literature and literary criticism, history, K-12 interest resources and news including full-text of The New York Times back to 1985 and 50 Gale Virtual Reference library titles. ProQuest will be providing the full-text of The Boston Globe dating back to 1985.  Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Online K-12 and Public Library Editions will be available with Read Aloud features.  Also included in the package are the Britannica Spanish Reference Center, World Data Analyst, and Annals of America.  All products are available for PC, mobile and tablet devices.

The more than 1700 school, public, and academic libraries across the state also benefit from these resources. Individual libraries would pay on the average of $50,000 a year to license these resources on their own.  “Free access to the resources has been a lifesaver. We could never afford such comprehensive digital resources,” said one librarian. The resources are funded jointly by the MBLC and MLS with state funding and federal support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services as administered by the MBLC. 

The licenses are based on a "Request for Responses for Statewide Electronic Online Content" issued September 2011. A rigorous procurement process included opportunities for input and evaluation from a wide array of Massachusetts library staff representing public, K-12, academic, and special libraries, as well as staff of the Massachusetts Library System and Automated Library Networks.  Over 800 library staff members completed product evaluation surveys based on 15 days of online trials open to all MLS member library staffs and showcasing products from 8 vendors whose proposals met the minimal technical requirements.  Nine librarians representing public, academic, K-12 and special libraries from across the Commonwealth served on a Statewide Electronic Resource Advisory Committee that made recommendations to the MBLC and MLS based on their review of proposals, vendor presentations and trials.

About MBLC and MLS

The Board of Library Commissioners ( is the agency of state government with the statutory authority and responsibility to organize, develop, coordinate and improve library services throughout the Commonwealth. The Board advises municipalities and library trustees on the operation and maintenance of public libraries, including construction and renovation. It administers state and federal grant programs for libraries and promotes cooperation among all types of libraries through regional library systems and automated resource sharing. It also works to ensure that all residents of the Commonwealth, regardless of their geographic location, social or economic status, age, level of physical or intellectual ability or cultural background, have access to essential new electronic information technologies and significant electronic databases.

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