Code4Lib: Zotero

Trevor Owens talked to us about Zotero. The slides are already online and the video should be there soon.


What is it?

Zotero is a Firefox add on that lets you:

  • store items and take notes
  • bring in attachments
  • drag and drop into the collection and tag things if you want
  • archive entire webpages and highlight text and add sticky notes
Zotero Icon

Pages that support Zotero have an icon that appears in the address bar in Firefox (like the RSS icon)

State of the Community

  • Hundreds of thousands of users
  • 2288 discussion on Zotero forums
  • 23 language locals all user contributed
  • 80k views on quick start guide last month

Get Involved

  • Make your tools play nice with Zotero (just a note – Koha does)
  • Make your campus a Zotero campus — offer support and promote Zotero among students
  • Get your hands dirty and extend Zotero
  • Get things to work with Zotero by having them generate COinS
  • See who’s recommending Zotero and tell people about it!!

Stats from the Room – and the Future

Trevor asked us a few questions to see how many people were aware of/using Zotero:

  • How many people here have used Zotero – almost all hands
  • How many are in institutions where Zotero is supported – not many hands at all
  • How many are in institutions where other management tool is supported – lots of hands

After these results, Trevor stated: “Okay, this has to change!” He’d love to see more academic institutions using Zotero, the future of the tool hopefully includes moving from being just a client side app in your browser to being an entire suite of tools. They’d love to have a reliable set of syncing plugins for tools like, and plugins for MS Word and Open Office.

He pointed out the SIMILE page at MIT, a project that

seeks to enhance inter-operability among digital assets, schemata/vocabularies/ontologies, metadata, and services. A key challenge is that the collections which must inter-operate are often distributed across individual, community, and institutional stores. We seek to be able to provide end-user services by drawing upon the assets, schemata/ vocabularies/ ontologies, and metadata held in such stores.

Zotero Commons

Lastly, he mentioned that Zotero will be introducing something in collaboration with the Internet Archive entitled, Zotero Commons, in the opes of encouraging a new type of openness.

More can be found about this at Dan Cohen’s blog:

I’m pleased to announce a major alliance between the Zotero project at the Center for History and New Media and the Internet Archive. It’s really a match made in heaven—a project to provide free and open source software and services for scholars joining together with the leading open library. The vision and support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has made this possible, as they have made possible the major expansion of the Zotero project over the last year.


I have to admit that I don’t use Zotero that much – I have it installed, but never took the time to explore it. My cousin swears by it and can’t live without it – and others have said the same thing – maybe I should start poking at it. Trevor’s presentation was great and taught me a lot and made me want to learn more about Zotero and how I can use it to my advantage.

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