The Library has undertaken a Strategic Directions Initiative to listen, think, and plan for the future with our stakeholders –students, faculty, alumni and alumnae, administrators and staff, and members of wider communities.
This project has underscored the challenges librarians face to communicate effectively how libraries are changing. We find and use metaphors to help bridge the gap between the libraries of nostalgia (“when I was a kid . . .”) and the libraries of today and tomorrow. The gap between the familiar past and the unfamiliar present has fostered three myths about libraries and their roles.
Myth #1: Information is free. It’s all there on Google, so why spend so much money? It all depends on what you want to find. Libraries have advocated for free and just access to knowledge, but are more and more pressed to ensure that access comes at no cost to those who benefit from it. Publishers and providers have built high profit margins into subscriptions. Licenses have fixed durations, so payments continue annually instead of the older model of one-time payment and minor costs for continued use.
Myth #2 Information is available to everyone everywhere. Rapid advances in technology, digitization, and connectivity leave many conclude that this myth is true. Few realize that most academic publications have quarantines, periods when those who don’t pay can’t read. Licenses require that libraries limit who may obtain access to library materials. Millions of books likely will never be digitized because they are caught in copyright limbo (“orphaned works”). If your public or academic library can’t pay for access, a great deal of information is off-limits.
Myth #3: Online searches return the same results to everyone. On the contrary, filters employ data from previous searches to tailor results presented to individual searchers. I have seen adjacent workstations exhibit differing results from the same search query to the same search at the same time, because previous users of that public workstation had searched for differing materials. Search engines remember, “if you like this, you’ll like that” –great for online shopping, but limiting knowledge and viewpoints when doing research. This could make users intellectual lazy since it’s easier never to question the results of a search, but ask, “What didn’t I get?”
The Library is thinking about our strategic directions because we want to strengthen our users’ intellectuality agility and engagement. We have optimized our expenditures to ensure access to authoritative information, built a Digital Commons to strengthen our connections to scholarship. Our efficiencies extend our reach and lower the cost of higher education to students who otherwise would have to pay for access document by document. These individual costs would be significantly more expensive than the library’s negotiated access and economies of scale. In so doing we can attract and retain creative scholars and engaged students, and extend the University’s mission of insisting that accuracy, factuality, and well-grounded argument matters in an age marked by free-floating anger and convenience “truthiness.”
Literati by Credo is a kind of discovery service especially useful for those beginning to propose, write, or a research a paper or project. Literati focuses both on high-quality factual reference resources and filtered search results from databases, catalogs, and newspapers to provide over 10,000 topic pages covering every subject with combined result on one page, both from resources discoverable on the open web to the licensed resources available to SHU students, faculty, and staff.
For example, you can search a very broad term such as climate change, and receive results that identify three topic pages: climate change, global warming, and Kyoto Protocol, followed by links to high-quality digital reference books and entries from resources that suggest more focused research. Results from the search climate change bayesian will then explore decision theories about climate change. You can narrow searches by facets such as collection, subject, media, person (etc.), or particular databases grouped by subject area. For example, coral bleaching can be narrowed by media to see maps, images, and videos –and Literati will suggest related terms.
Literati offers a host of tools. For reading-disabled students, results can be heard via ReadSpeaker (a speech-reading application). Users can create an interactive “mind map” of terms that can show relationships visually. Literati hosts tools to provide such as definitions, pronunciations, information about persons, searches for images, and even a crossword solver.
Best of all, Literati will return very similar results for every user, regardless of previous search history or algorithmically-suggested biases. Resources, searches, and information can be permanently linked, and easy to locate again. If users establish personal accounts (independent of SHU ID + password), users can save and re-use search results, and customize the dashboard so that important tools are always handy.
Literati can be easily integrated into a Blackboard course shell, class instruction, and tutorials. An academic library can be overwhelming for students –some are reluctant even to try to use it, sometimes called “library anxiety.” Literati by Credo can help to sort out confusions and build good research habits –appropriate for almost any level of study and research.
MarketLine Advantage is a new database at SHU. It provides company, industry, financial, and country business data for every major marketplace in the world, including segmentation and competitive analyses. Produced by an internal team, it draws on primary and secondary research and is prepared under an established methodology that has been tried and tested for more than ten years. MarketLine Advantage is updated daily. You can also find case studies by narrowing search results. MarketLine Advantage's interface is far more usable than EuroMonitor Passport GMID, which it has replaced. You can also find numerous videos about how to search on YouTube.
Read more about MarketLine Advantage on our Featured Resource blog post.