The End of an Era: Linda Beebe is Retiring
We're sad to announce the end of an era here at APA. Linda Beebe is stepping down after 12 years as PsycINFO's Senior Director.
Many of you in the library community have met her at conferences; all of you who use APA products have been affected by the decisions she's made during a tenure that has seen our department transformed almost beyond recognition. She has braided together a program to develop the new products you've asked for and the infrastructure necessary to support them, collaborating with others to advance both the science itself and the means to make it widely available, and navigating through the choppy seas of a period of astonishing change in the publication and database industries.
She Hit the Ground Running
Linda arrived with the new millennium, and was at the helm through a decade that completely changed scholarly publishing in general and PsycINFO® in particular. Under her leadership, PsycINFO has embraced a newly digital world; weathered vendor mergers and acquisitions, and developed APA's own platform in response; incorporated new industry standards like DOIs and article-by-article publishing; and oh my have we grown.
With barely time to take off her coat, she faced her first set of problems. Librarians — you — told her in no uncertain terms what you wanted for starters: a better and more comprehensive database, site licensing and tiered pricing to accommodate different sizes of customers and consortia, more ways to access the data, and full text — oh boy did you want full text.
And that was the opening act. Let's look at how some things have changed.
In 2000, we covered 1,618 journals in PsycINFO and defined psychological content so strictly that we excluded many specialties. That all changed. Our new mission became to provide "what psychologists might need to know." And to meet the content challenge, PsycINFO, the department, had to be recreated.
So Linda and her management team totally restructured the department and workflow, added automating processes and machine-aided indexing, increased in-house staff in such areas as customer relations and product development, and outsourced. She instituted a panel of subject experts, language development staff, and managers that meet regularly to review new journals by established criteria and identify areas where we need to grow.
An example: because of that initiative, in 2008 we created a Neuroscience Task Force committed to increasing our neuroscience content and now have almost all of the top 100 neuroscience journals in PsycINFO. The result of that attention to behavioral research? Today we cover more than 2,500 journals, and PsycINFO is the source for scholarship in psychology and many related disciplines.
In the 2000 PsycINFO database there were no cited references and many fewer fields. In response to user requests, we've added features almost yearly in reloads. Today, we have almost 60 million cited references and ever-expanding fields and limits that allow very precise searching (for example, a researcher can break Methodology out by 21 subcategories).
Add in the search fields specific to our new databases, and those numbers swell beyond recognition. In our databases, we uniquely provide researchers with the ability to precisely search the most extensively collected and indexed scholarly behavioral content in the world.
When Linda arrived, we were delivering content to individuals by carrier pigeon — well, CD-ROM. PsycINFO was basically transactional, aimed at an individual user at one computer station. We did have an APA database of full-text journal articles, but it was available only to members and small colleges.
While we at APA were initially nervous about providing our entire journal content and what that would do to subscriptions and membership, Gary VandenBos, the APA Publisher, and Linda listened to the librarians. The result was a database of all of the current article content. A beta test in 2000 of the new PsycARTICLES® with two universities and one consortium was a trial by fire, but by 2002 PsycARTICLES was on major vendor systems in dozens of institutions and growing fast.
In 2006 Gary and Linda made another decision about PsycARTICLES that provided enormous benefit to the library community. They added 73,000 articles, the backfile to 1894, to the database, and they gave it to subscribers for no additional cost. Thanks to the efforts of the APA Journals Department and our electronic delivery, PsycARTICLES has grown to 81 journals and more than 162,000 articles.
Advocate in Chief
She learned fast how much she needed you involved with all of our decisions, and she went where you were to ask questions. Many of you have attended one of our regular library events.
In 2001, Linda instituted a Librarians Roundtable Breakfast at ALA Annual and Midwinter, specifically to listen to you and your concerns. She expanded that initiative in 2004, with a Library Advisory Council that provides ideas and feedback on all of our projects.
Many of you have helped us out with beta testing, so we have your feedback from the beginning of a project. Some of you have served on an industry committee with Linda. Among other groups, she's served on NFAIS, CrossRef, ORCID, and the Society for Scholarly Publishing in an effort to improve the industry itself. In all of these areas, she's focused on collaborating with other organizations and advocating for the science and the end user.
Collaboration extends to our vendor partners. We couldn't have done what we have without them, and we recognize that. At the high-water mark, our products were available on 14 different platforms. At times, Linda has been in near constant communication with vendors' staff. For example, back in 2001, to bring PsycARTICLES to life, she spent a solid year of weekly phone calls with Ovid and their external production vendor.
She is still actively involved with all of our partners, with calls and visits to their sites. Linda has promoted careful attention to the APA credo: All vendors will get a level playing field. All get the same data, released at the same time, at the same pricing. That has remained true even after our own platform, APA PsycNET, was introduced in 2007.
And My How We've Grown
Our content has more than doubled over the Linda Beebe years, from 1.6 million records in PsycINFO in 2000 to more than 3.6 million in 7 databases today. When Gary VandenBos said, "More content — and quality content," Linda always answered the call. She was a driving force behind our expansion in 2004, which added PsycBOOKS®, PsycEXTRA®, and PsycCRITIQUES®. She has championed our collaboration with the Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron, which has given the Center digitized content and an expanded audience for their collections and us a large volume of important content.
Most recently, in 2011 we launched PsycTHERAPY® and PsycTESTS®. Each was challenging, but PsycTESTS in particular has combined the design complexity of a Rubik's cube with the content-finding difficulty of a hunt for Howard Hughes's will.
In our conversation about the past 12 years, Linda pointed to the future. "Twelve years ago, PsycINFO was the only real 'electronic publishing' department at APA. Today all three content centers — APA Books, APA Journals, and PsycINFO — are creating electronic works. With such interrelated products, our collaborations have grown. I have no doubt that the APA publishing program will continue to innovate to give the world even more superb products and services."
This is a newsletter, and it can't begin to touch on the difference Linda has made to the lives of the staff here at PsycINFO and the products we are proud to deliver. Handed a collision of crumbling business models and revolutionary innovation, Linda transformed PsycINFO to meet the challenges of the times and the library community.
All we here at PsycINFO can say is thank you.