When I first learned about the vast customizability of the Literati by Credo service, the benefits of this approach seemed many and obvious. Every institution has a different objective, a different set of resources and a different target audience, so it seemed logical that every institution would want a different Literati experience. Still, I had missed one subtle but meaningful reason why it’s so important to give librarians the freedom to choose the content to which their students are exposed.
As a librarian or a reader, consider this: Publishers, like the rest of us, are not infallible. What happens if an otherwise trustworthy publisher makes a serious mistake in one of their publications? Suppose, for example, that a respected journal publishes an article that was later revealed to be falsified. It’s not a particularly far-fetched scenario — just ask Alan Sokal. Should you trust what that journal publishes afterwards? What about the material they had published before the incident? Some librarians might give them the benefit of the doubt if they quickly corrected the error, but others might raise the drawbridge and cancel their subscriptions altogether. Some might use the goof as an opportunity to educate students about the dangers of relying on a single source. Who are we to say which approach is correct?
The question of whether or not to trust a reference source after a single gaffe is not a cut-and-dried science; it’s a judgment call. The decision should not be made by us at Credo, nor by computer algorithms, nor by the thousands of students who, despite their technical savvy and enthusiasm for learning, often have a skewed understanding of what does or does not make a source reliable. The decision should be made by the people guiding these students, those whose job it is to understand knowledge at the most fundamental level. That, more so than any of the other bells and whistles, is the true power of Literati by Credo: customizable trust.