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CHOICE Reviews: Literati Academic

Building on previous iterations, Xfreferplus (CH, Apr'06, 43-4367) and Credo Reference (CH, Feb'09, 46-2980), Literati Academic, a customizable discovery service and research platform, offers searching and the full text of some 3.4 million individual entries from a wide range of subject-based reference works, along with images, videos, and audio files (more specialized subject and publisher collections are also available).

In addition to keyword searching, the Advanced Search function allows phrase searching and filtering by subjects and specific reference titles, publication dates, and entries with features such as audio or maps. Search results may be sorted by relevance, publication date, and article length. Researchers may also browse through individual reference work titles. Individual entries' bibliographies can be linked to full text via link resolvers, which allows researchers easy access to further sources. Moreover, Literati includes lists of database links on the search results pages (libraries may choose which databases to include and how to group them). Most of the database links have pre-populated searches, so that clicking on the link will generate a search in that database with the same keywords. This provides an easy transition to more specialized research.

Literati also features Mind Map searching, which visually arranges search terms and related concepts to show their relationships. Users may click on related concepts to generate further Mind Maps. Mind Maps have considerable potential, especially for students trying to define their topics and research questions, but they can produce odd results, e.g., a Mind Map search for "concorde plane" omitted "plane" and produced a Mind Map centered around "concorde" (with connections to related concepts such as "plane," "computer technology," and another "concorde"). Literati also offers a browse by topic feature (see Topic Pages, CH, Jan'11, 48-2410 for further discussion).

In addition to customizing database lists, a library may populate its Literati start page with items such as .rss feeds, lists of links, graphics, and Instant Messenger (IM) Chat widgets. Video tutorials branded with the library's logo are available, as are other marketing and measurement tools. According to colleagues who implemented Literati at George Mason University, the process was smooth, and Credo Reference was very easy to work with. Library staff should keep in mind the extensive customization that is available, and allow enough time to optimize this service for a specific library's needs. Literati Academic offers huge potential for students and faculty alike. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above; general audience.

--J. Stevens, George Mason University

Reprinted with permission from CHOICE copyright by the American Library Association.