Columbia students give Literati “thumbs up”

Credo Reference‘s ongoing effort to improve information literacy (and “research effectiveness”) just got a new boost. After conducting a case study with Columbia University’s undergrads, the company is reporting back some encouraging feedback about the value of its Literati platform. The results of the study have been made public and their message is clear: using Literati in the classroom made a notable difference in the students’ research experience. According to Credo, 87 percent of the students who participated said that Literati improved the quality of their work and 90 percent said they would likely use it again for future assignments.

Soon after launching Literati — an extension of the original Credo Reference platform, marketed as “a library’s connection to information literacy” — Credo partnered with Columbia University (and the “embedded” librarians of its Undergraduate Writing Program) to monitor students’ experience using the product. The goal was to utilize Literati as the core instructional tool and give students full access to its Technology (including Credo’s well-known Topic Pages and the Mind Map), Content (derived from hundreds of reference ebooks and subject encyclopedias from a growing list of publishers), and various customized Services, including multi-media instruction and tutorials.

“Partnering with Columbia University on this case study helped us better understand the specific research and information literacy needs among students…and tailor their Literati service accordingly,” said Credo’s CEO, Mike Sweet, in a statement. “The knowledge that we have gained will be highly valuable as we continue to evolve Literati’s blend of technology, content and services.”

The Credo story

What has made Credo Reference a success story in publishing and library circles in recent years extends beyond the company’s ability to amass quality research content and apply new technologies to the platform. Since its launch in 1999 (then called X-Refer), Credo has been consistently raising the bar for what an ebook platform could be.

What started out as a publisher-neutral “database,” back when most reference publishers were still deciding how to migrate their subject encyclopedias online, has now morphed into a “solution” that engages researchers with customized videos and tutorials. The content remains its main component, but it continues to be “enhanced,” not overshadowed, by technology. The best part: the “embedded” services are powered by humans (actual on-site librarians and educators).

The launch of Literati (earlier this year) is a testament to the company’s commitment to embracing research as a highly interactive, multi-media experience. But more than that: Credo is sending a message to the community that in order to improve information literacy among students (and thus prove the worth of e-resources and the libraries that purchase them), producers, faculty, and librarians need to come together and educate users every step of the way.

Beyond Credo

This trend of “enhancing” reference content with tailored services powered by librarians will continue as publishers and aggregators become more aware of the possibilities. Librarians have long been involved in the development of research content; inviting them to join Advisory Boards or participate in focus groups is a common industry practice. But embedding librarians into actual resources (not just classrooms or case studies) — making them a prominent part of the “package” after its launch — may well be the most innovative way to turn “static” ebook platforms into “living resources.” It will not only re-vitalize the roles librarians play in the future of content development but it will also open up a new world of opportunities for all involved.

Also of interest:

  • NSR interview with Credo CEO Mike Sweet
  • LJ’s review of Literati
  • Charleston Advisor interview with President John Dove & Carol Helton
  • LJ interview with President John Dove
  • Upcoming webinars for librarians interested in learning about Literati


Mirela Roncevic is an independent content developer, writer, and researcher. She contritues articles and stories to NSR on reference and digital publishing and content development. Reference publishers and content aggregators may send all PR materials directly to Mirela at