R.R. Bowker this week announced its acquisition of Medialab Solutions. Medialab is best known for its AquaBrowser Library search and discovery platform that is used by more than 60 million library patrons in the U.S. and Europe. The companies expect the combination of their strengths (Bowker's extensive collection of bibliographic data and Medialab's visual faceted search technology) to yield new Bowker products that will bolster the library user experience.
AquaBrowser Library is promoted as the only platform that provides visual faceted search solutions for its library customers. It's a library catalog search tool that integrates with any major library system to open up the library catalog and other information sources.
Essentially, it produces a more enlightening and productive search experience for end users. Using the AquaBrowser Library, library patrons can search by entering words into a traditional search box. Results are listed by relevance, like a traditional search engine. But they are also linked to the actual sources that are within and outside of a user's particular library. AquaLibrary uses associations, context and spelling alternatives to yield search results from a library's card catalog that take a user beyond his or her original search.
Search is huge. And Bowker is very smart to make an acquisition that, in essence, enhances the search capabilities of its valuable bibliographic data. The functionality that Medialab's AquaBrowser Library brings to the table will only make that data even more valuable to libraries and their end users. Since Bowker announced that the deal will lead to the introduction of new products, it's likely the roll-out of these new offerings will begin soon.