Reference eReviews | May 1, 2013

Literati Public



the product Literati Public by Credo is a public library version of a service reviewed in this column last year (LJ5/15/12; Its content portion is built from the publisher’s Credo Reference database, and the service portion is a suite of custom modules that are designed to help libraries educate their users, market their services, and assess user needs.


content and usability The most visible part of Literati Public is the reference information platform powered by Credo. The standard “General Reference Collection” includes more than 600 reference titles with over three million entries among them. The title list is fairly current, with 70 percent of titles being published within the last ten years. Libraries hoping to expand the number of reference works can purchase or subscribe to additional subject or publisher collections. Title lists are available on the Literati Public website.

The service’s homepage provides access to reference content via search and browse functions as well as links to promotional videos and tutorials (described below). Users have many search options. Each page offers a basic search box, and an advanced search is available for more experienced users.

Literati Public has several specific content searches called “Tools.” Via separate search boxes users can locate images, quotations, word pronunciations, holidays and celebrations for each month, and possible crossword puzzle solutions. The results are pulled from the 600-plus reference works included in the platform. While the results can be considered authoritative, a greater quantity of information is often available freely online.

The most useful aspects of the platform are the “Mind Map” search feature and Credo’s “Topic Pages.” The map allows users to enter a search term and see a visual representation of associated terms and concepts. This helps users find the best keywords for their search and determine what concepts are most closely related.

The Topic Pages are curated collections of articles from Literati as well as from external sources to which the library subscribes. Links to images and video from Wikimedia Commons, as well as book titles from ebrary or the Library of Congress allow users to go beyond the basic reference works available. In essence, these topic pages provide an entire suite of subject-specific resources.

In addition, Literati Public can integrate useful features such as a chat widget from Mosio and tools to connect users with librarians or teachers for homework help. COUNTER reports are available to librarians, and MARC records for reference works are available for the library catalog. The platform uses the ReadSpeaker software to provide text-to-speech capability.


services Literati Public has a wide variety of custom services available. A library just needs an idea and the Literati staff can help make it happen. Literati’s staff works with library staff to create the tutorials, giving librarians a large amount of input into the final product.

Most of the tutorials aimed at a public library audience are simple click-through slide presentations with text information. I viewed tutorials about digital literacy (“How To Use a Mouse”), finding particular types of information (“How To Do Genealogical Research”), general research skills (“How To Brainstorm with a Concept Map”) and job skills (“Applying for Jobs Online”). While some of these are necessarily broad, the value of other lessons to librarians and patrons could be increased with additional details or by adding quizzes or videos. The promotional videos that Literati produces can be targeted to any institution. Libraries can advertise particular collections, promote events, market their cost-effectiveness to taxpayers, or advertise online library tools. The Literati staff produces the videos, including taking care of graphic design and acquiring properly licensed music. Unfortunately, the promotional videos I saw consisted of mostly static images, music, and onscreen text. Pacing of the productions was poor but this could be tweaked in consultation with local library staff. Local images were incorporated into each video, but overall the quality is lower than I anticipated.

The Literati Public service can also design print promotional materials including bookmarks or posters. They advertise services related to social media, such as designing a strategy, writing content, and scheduling posts. Literati Public staff can also help develop information literacy assessment tools and analyze user statistics. They also provide training sessions and materials for library staff.


pricing Pricing for Literati Public is complicated because the cost involves not just the online content, but the user education and marketing services that are included.Due to the consultative services that are a crucial part of Literati, subscription costs range from $1,000 for a project for one institution to $1,000,000 for a comprehensive country-wide proposal.


verdict The online reference works included in the Credo platform are useful, but not extraordinary. The real strength of Literati by Credo is the suite of services that come with the platform. Despite some quality issues, these consultation services effectively add a librarian (or two) to your staff, helping libraries complete projects, market their services, and educate their users.

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, Readers can contact her at