Monday, November 20, 2006

Business Lists & Reference USA

Not a day goes by here without fulfilling a request for a client who needs a list of this business or that. For years, the Research Network used a CD-ROM product called the American Business Disc (ABD) to make these lists possible.

Last summer, InfoUSA announced that it was no longer making this CD-ROM available. The company (like every software provider in the information industry) is trying to steer former CD-ROM subscribers towards their web-based equivalent, called Reference USA.

Many of you might be familiar with Ref USA. It is a common presence on databases offered for free to cardholders of local public libraries (as well as the New York State Library). If you're not familiar with it . . . you're about to be.

Starting later this month, the Research Network will be creating business lists from this website. You shouldn't see much difference in the end product. Oddly, the web version of this product isn't nearly as versatile as the CD-ROM (a lot of useful search features - ones that we relied on - don't exist on the website). We'll have to adapt.

The main advantage of Ref USA, though, is that InfoUSA updates the records much more frequently on the web (once per month) than they did with the CD (once every six months, and sometimes longer). They still can't guarantee that every list that you get will be 100% all the time, but the lists you get ought to have fewer dead addresses & phone numbers than before.

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