One of the biggest names in information services for libraries is seeing a change at the top. After more than four decades with the company, EBSCO CEO F. Dixon Brooke announced his retirement today. The announcement also brought the news that EBSCO Information Services President Tim Collins will step in as CEO.
Brooke, who joined EBSCO Industries in 1974, became COO in 2004, in preparation for taking over as president in July 2005 following the retirement of Jim Stephens, who had held the post since 1970. Previously, as VP and general manager, Brooke oversaw EBSCO Subscription Services as well as its General Services Group of business operations.
Brooke’s eight-year tenure as EBSCO’s CEO will come to a close with the fiscal year on June 30, after which Collins will take the helm of the company that he joined in 1987. That’s when EBSCO Industries, Inc. acquired Collins’ young information services company, Popular Magazine Review. Under the EBSCO umbrella, that company would become familiar to librarians and researchers as EBSCO Information Services, which provides reference assistance and database services to libraries around the world.
In a 2008 interview with Library Journal, Collins attributed much of the success of the publishing enterprise to the EBSCO purchase, which he described as “a huge advantage” as it let the publishing arm continuously innovate without having to “focus on the next quarterly report.” Collins will continue in his role as president of EBSCO Information Services as he makes the transition to succeed Brooke, becoming just the fourth president and CEO in the 70-year history of EBSCO Industries.
The move will mark a broadening of horizons for Collins. While EBSCO Information Services has long been a reliable money maker for the firm, EBSCO Industries is engaged in a wide variety of business ventures. Founded in 1944 as a magazine subscription service, EBSCO has grown into one of the 200 largest private businesses in the United States, invested in everything from insurance companies and steel joist manufacturers to companies that craft products like hunting decoys and fishing lures.
The company’s holding are so varied that even in its hometown of Birmingham, AL, locals are often not quite sure what EBSCO does. “We’re a little bit of a mystery to a lot of people,” Brooke told a meeting of the Birmingham Kiwanis Club last year.
Collins told Library Journal that he’s confident his decades of experience with the company have prepared him for his new role. “I’ve been around long enough to know that the key is to deploy proven principles in new situations but to be smart enough to realize what you don’t know and ask questions to learn,” said Collins via email. “I will be doing a lot of learning over the coming months as I work closely with Dixon during the transition period.”
Collins also stated that following his transition to the role of President and CEO of EBSCO Industries, executives at EBSCO Information Services would continue to report to him directly, and that the position of President of EBSCO Information Services would no longer exist as of July, 2014.
Brooke also expressed confidence in Collins’ ability to step up to the expanded role. “EBSCO is a great organization, full of wonderful, talented people. We are indeed fortunate to have Tim Collins ready and willing to step up to this new leadership challenge,” said Brooke in a statement. “Tim is an exceptionally accomplished leader with a proven management record marked by success.”
Brooke told Library Journal he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and grandchildren following his retirement, but he will remain active in the governance of the company as a member of EBSCO’s Board of Directors.
Earlier today, in a separate statement, EBSCO also announced its acquisition of altmetrics firm Plum Analytics.