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EBSCO Information Services

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EBSCO Information Services, headquartered in Ipswich, Massachusetts, is a division of EBSCO Industries Inc., the third largest private company in Birmingham, Alabama, with annual sales of nearly $2 billion according to the BBJ's 2013 Book of Lists.[1] EBSCO offers library resources to customers in academic, medical, K–12, public library, law, corporate, and government markets. Its products include EBSCONET, a complete e-resource management system, and EBSCOhost, which supplies a fee-based online research service with 375 full-text databases, a collection of 600,000-plus ebooks, subject indexes, point-of-care medical references, and an array of historical digital archives. In 2010, EBSCO introduced its EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) to institutions, which allows searches of a portfolio of journals and magazines.[2]

EBSCO Information Services
Industry Information services
Founded 1944
Headquarters Ipswich, Massachusetts, United States
Key people
Tim Collins (President)
Products EBSCO Discovery Service, EBSCOhost, EBSCO eBooks, EBSCO Health, DynaMed Plus



EBSCO Information Services is a division of EBSCO Industries Inc., a family owned company since 1944. "EBSCO" is an acronym for Elton B. Stephens Co. According to Forbes Magazine, EBSCO is one of the largest privately held companies in Alabama and one of the top 200 in the United States, based on revenues and employee numbers.[3] Sales surpassed $1 billion in 1997 and exceeded $2 billion in 2006.

EBSCO Industries is a diverse company which includes over 40 businesses. EBSCO Publishing was established in 1984 as a print publication called Popular Magazine Review, featuring article abstracts from more than 300 magazines. In 1987 the company was purchased by EBSCO Industries and its name was changed to EBSCO Publishing. It employed around 750 people by 2007.[4] In 2003 it acquired Whitston Publishing, another database provider.[5] In 2010 EBSCO purchased NetLibrary and in 2011, EBSCO Publishing took over H. W. Wilson Company.[6][7][8] It merged with EBSCO Information Services on July 1, 2013. The merged business operates as EBSCO Information Services.[9] As of 2017, the President is Tim Collins.[10]


  • Databases: EBSCO provides a range of library database services.[11] Many of the databases, such as MEDLINE and EconLit, are licensed from content vendors. Others, such as Academic Search, America: History & Life, Art Index, Art Abstracts, Art Full Text, Business Source, Clinical Reference Systems, Criminal Justice Abstracts, Education Abstracts, Environment Complete, Health Source, Historical Abstracts, History Reference Center, MasterFILE, NetLibrary, Primary Search, Professional Development Collection, and USP DI are compiled by EBSCO itself.
  • Discovery: This product is used to create a unified, customized index of an institution's information resources, and a means of accessing all the content from a single search box. The system works by harvesting metadata from both internal and external sources, and then creating a preindexed service.
  • eBooks: EBSCO provides ebooks and audiobooks across a wide range of subject matter.
  • DynaMed Plus is a clinical reference tool for physicians and other health care professionals for use at the point-of-care. DynaMed Plus ranked highest among 10 online clinical resources in a study in the Journal of Clinical Epidemiology[12] and also had the highest overall performance in the disease reference product category in the last two reports on clinical decision support resources by KLAS, a research firm that specializes in monitoring and reporting the performance of healthcare vendors.[13]
  • It provides DRM-protected audio and DRM-protected audiobooks through its subsidiary NetLibrary, which was purchased in 2010 from Online Computer Library Center. It competes in this market with OverDrive’s Digital Library Reserve.

Green and philanthropic initiativesEdit

EBSCO has two large solar electric arrays, is converting its corporate fleet of cars to hybrids, has established a "Green Team" at its headquarters, and has released GreenFILE, a free database designed to help people research the impact humans have on the environment. EBSCO was awarded a 2008 Environmental Merit Award Award from the United States Environmental Protection Agency's New England Office and was honored by the Special Library Association as "Green Champions" as part of the association's "Knowledge to Go Green" initiative on Earth Day 2009.[14]

EBSCO philanthropic initiatives include efforts to bridge the digital divide (between the industrialized world and developing nations) and work with the Open Society Institute to help provide essential research databases for universities in 39 developing countries.[15] In 2012, the Stephens were recognized for their philanthropic work.[16]

Controversy Surrounding K- 12 Database ContentEdit

For the past year, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) has worked to educate the public about questionable, sexually graphic content in EBSCO K-12 school database products. This has been covered in the news and the NCOSE website asks parents to reach out to school districts. Although EBSCO actively markets a number of database products as appropriate for K-12 institutions, the databases have been found to stream content from adult magazines and other sources of sexually graphic material[17][18][19][20][21]. Adult magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Men's Health, Esquire, Lesbian News, Chatelaine, and a number of other adult magazines and journals, have been at the center of the controversy because of the sexually explicit content and numerous advertisements for adult venues, including "sex toys" and pornography venues. Since EBSCO databases are proprietary, K-12 customers cannot apply the filtering which they would normally apply to an internet search and EBSCO has issued statements that it maintains contractual arrangements with its publishing clients to allow them to stream uncensored content [22][23].Two large school districts in Colorado, the Cherry Creek School District and the Adams 12 School District, collaborated to produce an exclusion list called the ADAMS 12 LIST[24]. This list does not remove all of the adult material in the K-12 databases, but does remove a substantial portion of it. EBSCO has not applied these exclusions broadly to all of its K-12 offerings and it is necessary for every school or library district in the country (or internationally) to contact EBSCO to make a separate request for the ADAMS 12 LIST, or to make similar exclusionary customizations to remove adult content. NCOSE has requested that EBSCO make known to their K-12 customers the need for customization to remove adult content. A group in Colorado called Concerned Citizens for School Databases has been involved in raising awareness of the adult content in EBSCO K-12 products. In 2017, NCOSE named EBSCO to its Dirty Dozen list of major contributors to the sexual exploitation of women and children,[25] The story was aired on CBS4 in Denver after independent corroboration of the material.[26] In response to NCOSE's concerns, EBSCO issued statements that it had filtered objectionable material from its school products, saying, "We have removed publications and questionable content from databases based on conversations with NCOSE as well as a stricter definition of age-appropriateness."[27] However, NCOSE and other groups (see below) reported still being able to find obscene articles, images, and links, on EBSCO K-12 databases, and articles that "glamorize pornography, prostitution, and risky sexual behaviors,"[28] and as of November 2017 had not removed EBSCO from their list (which also includes the American Library Association, Amnesty International, Comcast, and Twitter).[29] James LaRue, ALA Director of Intellectual Freedom, defended EBSCO noting that the episode raised issues of internet censorship versus intellectual freedom in the digital age. Writing about EBSCO for the Huff Post, psychologist Christopher Ferguson contended that adult material does not belong in school databases, but raised questions about who gets to decide what is age-appropriate and whether schools were able to filter EBSCO[30][31] Several other groups have raised the issue that EBSCO content is protected from top site filtering, and point to state and federal obscenity laws requiring protection for minors from sexually explicit, obscene or pornographic material. Since proprietary databases cannot be filtered by users, students are not protected from the adult content streamed by EBSCO's publishing clients. Parents and teachers may not be aware that the K-12 Explora, Mas Ultra for Schools, and other EBSCO K-12 databases are being used as vehicles for EBSCO's publishing clients to stream online ads and promotional material for the sex industry into classrooms[32].[33]. This has been argued to be a violation of trust between EBSCO and its school customers, especially due to the sexually graphic nature of certain advertisements that occur in large volume. [34].


  1. ^ "Birmingham's largest private companys". Birmingham Business Journal. 2012. 
  2. ^ "The New and Improved EBSCO Information Services". Information Today. 2013. 
  3. ^ "The Largest Private Companies". Forbes. November 9, 2006. Archived from the original on May 9, 2007. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  4. ^ Brynko, Barbara (2011). "Collins: EBSCO's Mission of Growth". 
  5. ^ "EBSCO acquires Whitston Publishing Company". Library Technology Guides. 24 September 2003. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  6. ^ "EBSCO Publishing and The H.W. Wilson Company Make Joint Announcement of Merger Agreement". (Press release). June 1, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2011. 
  7. ^ Barrett, William P. (December 29, 1997). "Mousetrapped". Forbes. Retrieved February 20, 2014. 
  8. ^ "H.W. Wilson Company". The New York Times. 
  9. ^ "EBSCO Publishing and EBSCO Information Services merge" (Press release). EBSCO Industries. May 22, 2013. Retrieved June 3, 2013. 
  10. ^ "About: Leadership". EBSCO Information Services. Retrieved 14 October 2016. 
  11. ^ "Title Lists". EBSCO Information Services. Retrieved 2 April 2016. 
  12. ^ Prorok, J. C.; Iserman, E. C.; Wilczynski, N. L.; Haynes, R. B. (September 10, 2012). "The quality, breadth, and timeliness of content updating vary substantially for 10 online medical texts: an analytic survey". Journal of Clinical Epidemiology. 65 (12): 1289–95. doi:10.1016/j.jclinepi.2012.05.003. PMID 22974495. 
  13. ^ "Clinical Decision Support 2013: Sizing up the competition". KLAS Research. December 2013. [permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "A Small Company with Big Ideas for the Environment". Business & the Environment with ISO 14000 Updates. 2007. 
  15. ^ "EBSCO: A Plan for All Seasons". Information Today. 2011. 
  16. ^ "Outstanding Philanthropists: James 'Jim' and Julie T. Stephens". Birmingham Business Journal. 2012. 
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  25. ^ 2017 Dirty Dozen List: EBSCO, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
  26. ^ Ackerman, Mark. (29 June 2017). "School Districts Remove Objectionable Material from Student Research Databases". CBS Denver. Retrieved 26 Oct. 2017.
  27. ^ Hardison, Jonathan. (28 June 2017). "Could Your Kids Find Pornographic Articles on School Computers?" WBRC Fox6 News. Retrieved 26 Oct. 2017.
  28. ^ 2017 Dirty Dozen List: EBSCO. National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
  29. ^ 2017 Dirty Dozen List. NCOSE.
  30. ^ Ferguson, Christopher J. (31 July 2017). "Are School Libraries Unintentionally Providing Middle Schoolers Access To Porn?" HuffPost. Retrieved 26 Oct. 2017.
  31. ^ Zubrzycki, Jackie. (14 July 2017). "Do Online Databases Filter Out Enough Inappropriate Material?" Education Week. Retrieved 26 Oct. 2017.
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Further readingEdit

External linksEdit