Mike Sweet, CEO of Credo Reference, gave me a tour of the new Credo Topic Pages yesterday. What a great tool they are for background/overview information on 10,000 different topics! The stimulus for creating the Topic Pages was context. A University of Washington study on how students research in the digital age found that students struggle to find context for the masses of information available to them in the digital age. Enter Credo’s Topic Pages. The pages are designed to offer context and vocabulary, subject orientation, and pathways to further exploration of the topic. The pages include simple definitions, encyclopedia entries, tag clouds showing the vocabulary of the topic, images, and a title list of the most common references from subject encyclopedia articles (all part of the Credo Reference content). Sharing the topic page content via social tools, links to the library’s chat/IM service, and article citations via EasyBib are included as well, and that’s just the basic topic page. (side note, have you heard of EasyBib? 16 million students are using it….probably some of yours)
Subscribing libraries may purchase an add-on to their Credo product allowing them to customize each topic page with additional library and web resources. Journal databases, ebooks, the online catalog, images, videos, news sources, and others can be added to the topic pages. This is not a one size fits all customization either. History topics can be linked to only the history resources, religion topics to religion resources, and so on.
So, many of us have subject guides, LibGuides, or other websites that gather together resources on a topic, what makes these Topic Pages so different? Scale and discoverability. First, there are 10,000 topic pages, and that’s just the beginning. The 10,000 topic pages cover 50% of the use of Credo Reference, highlighting the most popular research topics, and more pages will follow. Second, Credo will use various search engine optimization techniques to index the basic topic pages in search engines – freely available – and lead users back to the library. We can only hope that they will sit right above the wikipedia entry! To direct users back to the library, Credo integrated a geolocation service into the Topic Pages. This recognizes the IP address of the user, and if matched to a subscribing library, provides immediate access to the customized list of resources from that library. If the IP address is not from a subscribing library, Credo provides a list of libraries in that geolocation who subscribe to the Credo service. A user can authenticate to their library of choice if they have the credentials. A cookie is placed on the users computer and allows them access to any Credo topic page in the future without authenticating. If the user can’t get access to any libraries, they still have the basic Topic Page information from Credo – which uses citable/trustworthy sources.
Credo’s Topic Pages are in beta testing now and will be launched to current Credo subscribers in the next few months (access to customization tools free for first year). Libraries who wish to begin subscribing to Credo Reference (which includes all basic Topic Pages) can do so before June 30th and get access to the customization tools free for one year.