July 1, 2011, saw the rebirth of CLCD, LLC from the original Children's Literature Comprehensive Database company built by Marilyn Courtot and Robert "Bob" Asleson (See our backstory here). The database and the application that was designed to display the data had been around since 2000 and had largely stayed the same even as the data now being used had grown exponentially.
It was clearly a much-loved database, and most of our users continue to subscribe today.
However, it was clear that we needed a revamp of the product and also new products in the mix to bring a more modern product suite that fit with users’ expectations of what online products should look like in 2011. The company was tiny, and I was still learning the details of running a company, but we defined an ambitious 5-year product roadmap, and we embarked on it with gusto. Our first release, we dubbed version 2.0, came out in early 2013. With that, we were successful in pretty-much ticking off our entire userbase. Complaints ranged from ‘why did you change this’ to ‘I completely hate it.’ It was a classic disaster, but as a team we jumped on it and had a version 2.1 out within two weeks. It was a stark reminder to listen to users before making any changes. This lesson now permeates our product development cycles. We don't release any product until we have firmly socialized it with our users and beta tested for a long duration.
Version 3.0, Version 4.0, and Version 5.0 followed, which improved the application features, performance, reliability, technology, and content. Today, Version 5.3 can proudly claim to be the most comprehensive database with the largest collection of professional reviews, awards, and content while providing over 50 filters that allow users to find relevant data quickly. Librarians, patrons, professors, college and school students, and researchers all find immense value in the database and what Version 5.3 has to offer.
Version 4.0 had brought a new backend technology to bear and was refined in version 5.0. This change allowed CLCD to bring even more robust products. Starting in early 2018, the CLCD team embarked on a total refinement of the products that leveraged the upcoming Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies. CLCD already contained the most varied database with the most exceptional depth of content in the industry, and these elements are critical for Machine Learning. AI and ML are easier said than done, and you will see many companies get on the bandwagon. However, AI and ML are not just the newest shiny toy, but rather, complex technologies with real benefits for users.
As CLCD has always done, we put our users’ needs at the center and embarked on the difficult exercise of leveraging the new technology for user benefits.
After 18 months of challenging and complex work, we are ready to bring out the newest members of our product suite - Discovery and STEM, both built on similar foundation technology that allows users to find data in even more exciting and useful ways. I can't wait to see the novel solutions our users define with these new products.