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Credo Reference Introduces and Expands Literati Platform

Smart Libraries Newsletter [December 2012]

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Copyright (c) 2012 ALA TechSource

Abstract: In addition to the discovery services, which have been covered frequently in SLN, other products provide a more structured approach to guiding library users to the library's electronic collections. Credo Reference, for example, offers a suite of products that provide access not only to its own collections of reference resources, but also serves as a discovery interface into a library's broader collections according to specialized topic areas. Credo Reference traditionally has specialized in creating Web-based products centered on providing access to reference information sources. In recent years, the company has steadily evolved its product offerings, addressing an ever-expanded body of content resources and offering new capabilities for search and exploration. In addition to the core Credo Reference collections, the company has developed a new-generation product called Literati, which has recently been enhanced with new communications and collaboration capabilities.


In addition to the discovery services, which have been covered frequently in SLN, other products provide a more structured approach to guiding library users to the library's electronic collections. Credo Reference, for example, offers a suite of products that provide access not only to its own collections of reference resources, but also serves as a discovery interface into a library's broader collections according to specialized topic areas. Credo Reference traditionally has specialized in creating Web-based products centered on providing access to reference information sources. In recent years, the company has steadily evolved its product offerings, addressing an ever-expanded body of content resources and offering new capabilities for search and exploration. In addition to the core Credo Reference collections, the company has developed a new-generation product called Literati, which has recently been enhanced with new communications and collaboration capabilities.

Credo Reference is a content and technology platform that provides information to patrons drawing from its collection of digitized reference works and other content resources to which the library subscribes. At the core of Credo Reference lies an ever expanding set of electronically available reference titles. The complete collection currently includes more than 600 titles from some 80 publishers. Libraries that subscribe to Credo Reference can select specific titles, subject collections, or the entire body.

Credo Reference, from its very earliest days as xrefer, was an early adopter of XML technologies, originally encoding the documents in its collection using a DTD it developed called Reference Markup Language. Today all of its content is converted into DocBook5 XML. Each reference title is structured in such a way that many separately accessible entries, encoded with subject headings or other metadata, can be presented in search results.

Topic Pages

Beginning in March 2010, Credo Reference introduced a new structure called Topic Pages, which present and organize resources, both internal and external, within specific subjects or categories. In addition to a general introduction narrative, Topic Pages pull together content from a wide variety of sources, including Credo's own reference titles, selected subscription-based resources, and text, video, or images from the open Web, as well as related news feeds and books from sources such as Google Books. Each Topic Page also contains a word cloud of recommendations of related topics. In response to a search in Credo Reference or Literati, the appropriate Topic Page will always be presented first in search results. More than 10,000 Topic Pages have been created.

It's well known that students and scholars rarely begin their research at their library's website or discovery tools, but almost always start with Google or another search engine. To help bring Credo's authoritative library-oriented content to library users who begin this way, Topic Pages can be accessed from the general Web and will appear in search results. When encountered by an unauthenticated user from the general Web, the Topic Page will be populated with selected free content. The page also presents a panel that invites users to find more information through their library. When pressed, geo-location of the user's IP address presents a list of nearby libraries subscribing to Credo Reference or Literati. Users associated with one of those libraries, can log in using their authentication credentials to view the full version of the Topic Page populated with additional content drawn from the library's licensed electronic resources.

The Topic Pages can also include results from external subscription-based resources. Subscription resources supported include article databases from ProQuest, EBSCO, Gale, or CQ Press and JSTOR and e-book resources ebrary or Books 24x7 as well as content from Encyclopædia Britannica. Only those resources to which the library already subscribes can be activated and configured for access through Topic Pages. Libraries can also have Topic Pages configured to present content from their online catalog.

Through a partnership with OCLC, Credo Reference Topic Pages can also include relevant books and other material from WorldCat. Using the WorldCat Search API accessed through that library's specific authentication credentials, WorldCat results can be presented that also highlight materials held in the library.

Other Channels for Accessing Credo Reference

Content In addition to access of this content through Credo Reference's own dedicated interface, the company provides a variety of additional mechanisms for access, including the library's online catalog as well as federated search or index-based discovery services.

Credo Reference titles can be added to a library's online catalog using the same methods as other e-book collections. The company can provide MARC records with the appropriate URLs in the 856 tags that can be loaded into the local ILS or indexed in a local discovery service.

Content from Credo Reference can be accessed from a variety of methods in addition to its own interface. For libraries that use federated search tools such as Ex Libris MetaLib, Serials Solutions 360, OCLC's Zportal, or any of those based on MuseGlobal's Muse Metasearch technology, Credo Reference can be accessed as a search target.

Credo Reference has also partnered with each of the major discovery service providers. Credo Reference is indexed in Primo Central from Ex Libris, Summon from Serials Solutions, EBSCO Discovery Service, and OCLC's WorldCat Local.

Literati: Taking Credo Reference to the Next Level

For the last year, Credo Reference has been focusing on its new flagship product, Literati by Credo, a platform that combines the company's aggregation of digitized reference resources with a variety of tools and services, providing not only new functionality discovery and exploration , but also assessment, course integration, and library outreach and promotion. Credo Reference conducted a beta test program for Literati between October 2011 and January 2012, after which it was released as a subscription product. Some of the institutions collaborating with Credo Reference in the beta program included Columbia University, Marshall University, Lancashire Libraries in the United Kingdom, and the American University of Paris. A version of the product optimized for public libraries, called Literati Public, was launched in June 2012. Literati Public helps these libraries address such issues as community outreach, collaboration with local schools, and funding awareness in addition to the product's core capabilities.

Librarian Connect: New Communications Tools for Literati

Credo Reference has recently added a new feature, called Librarian Connect, to its Literati service. Librarian Connect aims to further increase the impact of Literati through by making connections between users and librarians, using a set of integrated communications technologies, including Web-based live chat, text messages, and e-mail. Librarian Connect also includes a response management utility to help manage the speed, quality, and consistency of answers to incoming questions.

The Librarian Connect feature, released in October 2012, relies on technology that Credo Reference licenses from Mosio. The initial partnership with Mosio that led to the development was formed in June 2012. Mosio specializes in technologies that connect organizations with clients through mobile technologies. Mosio has developed Web-based messaging that has been adapted to many different business sectors, including medical research, hotline or helpline services, conferences and other events, as well as general customer service and workforce messaging. The company's Text a Librarian package falls within its offerings for the educational sector, which also includes specialized services for anti-bullying and campus safety alerts. (For more information about Mosio, see: http://www.mosio.com/; information on its library-specific products: http://www.textalibrarian.com/

Librarian Connect helps libraries fill the service niche of communicating with their patrons and providing reference and related services through the wide range of media library patrons can potentially use to engage these services. Many libraries had previously implemented chat-based reference or inquiry services based on a utility from Meebo. Google acquired Meebo in June 2012 for around $100 million and abruptly discontinued many of its services including the Meebo Messenger, which many libraries used to support their chat-based services. The withdrawal of Meebo opened opportunities for new products as libraries scrambled for alternatives. OCLC has been using Mosio's communications technology for its QuestionPoint reference service since January 2010.

Corporate Background of Credo Reference

Originally known as xrefer, the company was founded in Oxford, UK near the peak of the Internet boom in 1999 by a team led by Adam Hodgkin, with the general strategy of creating a searchable database of digitized reference resources available on the Web to the general public that would be supported through advertising. Some of the early investors in the company included the UK cable operator Telewest and Flextech Interactive. The key concept of xrefer involved not only building an aggregation of reference content, but to create a “framework of navigation and links that permits smarter browsing” [Adam Hodgkin. “Reference Books on the Web”. January 2002, Ariadne Issue 30 http:// www.ariadne.ac.uk/issue30/ref-books.

Following the burst of the Internet bubble, xrefer found a new direction, primarily through the involvement of Béla Hatvany. Supported by Hatvany's investments beginning in October 2001, the product was redeveloped, initially called xreferplus, as a subscription-based reference database for libraries. In June 2007, the company changed its name to Credo Reference.

In November 2003, John G. Dove became the Chief Executive Officer of xrefer. Dove has previously served as the Chief Operating Officer of SilverPlatter.

In August 2008, Mike Sweet became CEO of Credo Reference, with Dove remaining with the company as its President.

Credo Reference maintains office in Oxford in the UK and in Boston, Massachusetts. For more information about Credo Reference see: http://corp. credoreference.com/

The Influence of Béla Hatvany

Béla Hatvany ranks as one of the pioneers of the information industry. He played a major role in the history of library automation, founding Computer Library Systems, Inc. in 1971, which became one of the dominant companies through the 1970's and 80's. CLSI's flagship product Libs100, began as a circulation system and steadily evolved to become a full-featured integrated library system. Innovative Interfaces, Inc., incidentally, got its start by creating a utility to connect CLSI's LIBS100 circulation system to OCLC's cataloging system. CLSI was sold to Thyssen Bornemisa in 1985 and was later acquired by Geac in 1992. The company's second generation Libs100PLUS became the basis of Geac's PLUS ILS. Geac itself was acquired by Golden Gate Capitol and folded into its Infor division.

Hatvany also founded SilverPlatter Information in 1983, which become one of the major providers of information products delivered on CD-ROM. SilverPlatter was one of the first companies to become involved in distributing library information resources on CD-ROM and developed the MultiPlatter suite of products to help libraries provide access to these resources through their local area networks. SilverPlatter also developed the ERL platform that followed the client/server architecture, transferring the content from the CD-ROMs to a central server. SilverPlatter was sold to Walters Kluwer in 2001 and has been consolidated into Ovid Technologies.

Publication Year:2012
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 32 Number 12
Issue:December 2012
Page(s):3-5
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: Credo Reference
ISSN:1541-8820
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Record Number:17492
Last Update:2013-06-22 13:20:54
Date Created:2012-12-07 09:20:14