ANN ARBOR, Mich., Dec. 12 /PRNewswire/ -- UMI, a Bell & Howell company (NYSE: BHW), and the National Library of Canada today announced that they have reached an agreement giving UMI rights to publish print and microform editions of doctoral dissertations and masters theses written at universities throughout Canada. The agreement also gives UMI potential rights to publish electronic editions as well. Under terms of the agreement, UMI becomes the worldwide agent for the National Library of Canada (NLC) which publishes dissertations and theses through its Canadian Theses Service. Approximately 4,000 dissertations and 7,000 theses are written annually at colleges and universities in Canada. UMI is the world's foremost publisher of doctoral dissertations, with over 99 percent of the accredited institutions of higher education in North America participating in its dissertations program as well as a growing number of universities throughout Europe and Asia. UMI's Dissertation Abstracts(TM) database, compiled during the past 60 years, surpassed 1.5 million titles last month. Benefits Cited "This is a major agreement that benefits everyone," said Bonnie Lawlor, Senior Vice President and General Manager of UMI's Library division. "UMI will provide Canadian colleges and universities with the same scholarly publishing services that we have been providing for nearly 60 years to colleges and universities in the United States who participate in UMI's dissertation publishing program." Among the more recently available services that will be provided is access to ProQuest Digital Dissertations, UMI's online electronic library of doctoral dissertations and master's theses. Available on the World Wide Web (wwwlib.umi.com/dissertations), ProQuest Digital Dissertations offers libraries and their patrons bibliographic citations and abstracts of all dissertations and theses in UMI's Dissertation Abstract database. ProQuest Digital Dissertations also offers access to the full text of all dissertations and theses written from 1997 forward. ProQuest Digital Dissertations also allows users to preview the first 24 pages of each title in digital format. The full text of documents can be downloaded or ordered using UMI's Web-delivery service for these publications, Dissertation Express. Lawlor also said, "students can expect publication of their work to occur within two to three weeks after receipt at UMI. We hope to reduce that to a matter of days in 1998." Important Benefits for Canadian Universities David Balatti, Director of Bibliographic Services for the National Library of Canada, said, "We believe Canadian universities will be pleased with the terms and conditions of this agreement since it provides two important benefits. The first is that it provides the known stability of microfilming technology to ensure long-term preservation. At the same time, it opens the door the acceptance and use of dissertations and theses in electronic formats." UMI will also create catalog records for all manuscripts received from Canadian universities and include those citations in its bibliographic products and services, which are published in print, on CD-ROM, or online. UMI will also provide each Canadian university submitting a thesis or dissertation with its own Web address to enable the institution to showcase citations, abstracts, and previously published documents. UMI collects, organizes, and delivers value-added information to customers in universities, libraries, schools, and businesses in more than 160 countries. A deep and growing content base includes periodicals, newspapers, newswires, business journals, broadcast transcripts, and dissertations available online through ProQuest Direct(R) as well as on CD-ROM, microform, and other media. More information about UMI is available on the Internet at http://www.umi.com. Bell & Howell, headquartered in Skokie, Illinois, is a leading worldwide provider of solutions for information access and high-volume mail processing. Additional information about Bell & Howell is available on the Internet at http://www.bellhowell.com. The National Library of Canada is responsible for collecting, preserving, and promoting access to Canada's published heritage. A major resource for research in Canadian studies, and for the promotion of Canadian literature and music, the National Library also plays a key role in fostering library development and facilitating resource sharing among Canadian libraries. Additional information is available on the Internet at http://www.nlc-bnc.ca.