eReviews: Literati by Credo | May 15, 2012

Literati by Credo Credo Reference; corp.credoreference.com/products/product-list/literatibycredo. html

CONTENT Literati by Credo is different from most of the resources reviewed in this column. It is not a database of publisher content but rather a suite of services extending beyond a library’s computer screen related to information discovery, information literacy (including assessment), and library marketing.

To libraries considering subscribing, the most visible component of Literati by Credo is the online discovery platform, built on the success of Credo Reference, LJ’s Best Overall database of 2011 (ow.ly/aq7ux). The online platform provides access to some of Credo Reference’s most useful tools, including topic pages, mind maps, and search gadgets (renamed Tools and offering a wider selection).

The main homepage of the Literati by Credo online platform offers a slightly cleaner interface than the original Credo offering and provides opportunities for customization. Libraries can add links to subject guides and to the library homepage and include their Twitter feeds or chat widgets. In addition, users can now register for Literati accounts, which allows them to save articles and searches.

After logging in, users enter a customizable homepage that lists their saved pages, search results, and entries in one box, while another content box allows them to add some of the product’s search tools (image search, quotations, pronunciations, location search, etc.). Literati by Credo makes the link to sign up and log in more prominent than other databases, though unfortunately users rarely take advantage of these tools. Interestingly, students who sign in receive an email after registration that ends with P.S. Show this email to your parents and let them know that their tuition dollars are working!

As when using Credo Reference, users can search by keyword, browse thousands of topic pages, or explore the graphical mind map (concept map in Credo). An advanced search is available, providing additional refinements without being overwhelming to novice users. Browsing topic pages can be a challenge, since only one layer of subject headings is provided: once a user clicks the topic Science, for example, an alphabetical list of 1,614 topic pages is presented. A Java plug-in is required to use the Mind Map feature, which could cause problems for some users.

The new content available in Literati is almost all individually made for subscribing libraries. Staff at Literati, working with individual institutions, draw on a wide variety of content to create or customize videos and tutorials based on the needs of the institution. These custom materials can appear at the bottom of the main homepage and on topic pages as appropriate.

To accompany the other instructional tools provided (videos, tutorials, Credo Topic Pages), the Literati staff have created LibGuides on various topics based on the reference books available in Credo. These LibGuides can be reused by libraries‚ individual sections can be mixed with librarian- created guides to help students in various courses or majors. This helps to highlight specific reference materials available in Literati in a location where students are searching for information: subject guides.

I was able to review videos on primary vs. secondary sources, how to determine the right database to use for a given research project, the importance of peer review, and plagiarism, although more subject-specific content is also available. Tutorials are created using Adobe Captivate and work within the user’s web browser. The tutorials were very basic, without feedback or response required from the user, similar to a standard slide presentation‚ this is an area for improvement. While the pieces on general topics were all reasonably well done, videos of equal or better quality can be found on YouTube. Where a library’s needs are highly specific, the custom videos may be more valuable.

Literati also provides customizable information- literacy assessments, designed to work with the videos and tutorials. I previewed some of the assessment questions but was not able to evaluate the degree to which they could be customized or examine how they could be integrated into learning-management systems such as Blackboard or Angel, which Credo indicates is possible.

The assessment questions fall into two main categories: demographic questions (class, major, etc.) and knowledge questions. The assessment did not mention Credo or Literati by name, although it did mention other search engines and databases. All of the questions were multiple- choice, and none asked students to perform specific tasks, just report what they might do. By planting seeds about reliable resources or the usefulness of concept maps, the questions are phrased to inform as much as to test. Like most general assess ment tools, the usefulness of these questions depends on how closely they line up with the goals and objectives of the information literacy program.

Training materials for library staff are another feature of Literati. Once again, the focus of these materials can be customized.

Importantly, the folks behind Literati understand that their product is not the best tool for every research question, and this is reflected in their videos, tutorials, and connections to other databases in the Credo Topic Pages. Literati doesn’t just link to alternative sources (JSTOR, ScienceDirect , Ebsco, etc.). Instead, Topic Pages provide selected results from these databases (based on library subscriptions), allowing students to go beyond the reference works in Credo to the books and articles necessary for their projects.

In addition to the discovery, education, and course-specific content provided by Literati, Credo also works with libraries to produce customizable marketing materials aimed at promoting the use of Literati and the library in general. I saw some of the posters but was unable to view any promotional videos. The digital posters are simple, professional-looking graphics with straightforward slogans branded with both the library logo and the Literati by Credo logo.

Perhaps more important than the digital outreach tools, the Literati by Credo staff act as consultants, working with libraries to develop marketing plans and offering suggestions for student outreach, communication with student media, and more.

The collaborative and consultative aspects of the Literati service make this product different from others. Libraries that purchase Literati by Credo will be able to work with its creators to develop information- literacy programs or produce library marketing plans and materials.

PRICING Pricing is highly variable, dependent on the size of the institution and the services provided. Credo reports that thus far, libraries have paid between $6500 and $60,000 for the service.

VERDICT The online discovery portion of Literati is a good tool for finding topics and basic information in high school or first-year college courses. The other items offered are like a suite of consultation services, most useful to libraries without the staff or expertise to develop assessment tools, tutorials, and marketing materials. The Literati staff can act as extra library staff with expertise in areas your library may lack.

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Bonnie Swoger About Bonnie Swoger

Bonnie J.M. Swoger is the Science and Technology Librarian at SUNY Geneseo’s Milne Library and the author of the Undergraduate Science Librarian blog, undergraduatesciencelibrarian.org. Readers can contact her at swoger@geneseo.edu.

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