Posts Tagged ‘Zotero’

Three, Two, One…Zotero

Sorry, I know it’s a bad title but I can’t help it.

Zotero seems like a really useful little gadget to help you get your references in order. I wish I’d had something like this when I did my Undergrad and Masters dissertations, but I have to admit to doing it the hard way – and it was painful! With the explosion in online resources available, it’s really neat to be able to add and organise references with a couple of clicks, and even more impressive that you can subsequently use these as your citations while you write. However, I do still believe that it’s important for students to be aware of how and why a bibliography is constructed, and would encourage them to get to grips with the basics before plunging straight in and using something like Zotero or Endnote.

As a resource for our users these programmes are really valuable, and it’s important that we know how they work before we blindly recommend them to students. Whether it’s linked from a library web-page, the focus of an online tutorial, included in resource guides or simply recommended by word-of-mouth, Zotero and similar reference-management programmes should be brought to the attention of our users.

As an in-house tool, I’m not convinced it’s quite so useful to libraries. Yes, we can use it to make available bibliographies for particular subjects, or recently published papers by memebers of a department of college, but this to me smacks of making work for ourselves. Reading lists should be compiled the experts in that particular subject, and recent publications are more often found on department or group profiles – Zotero does facilitate the sharing of these, but we should be careful not to cross the line from Information management (what Librarians do best), into Scholarship (what the Professors do best).

My own little play with Zotero kicked up some interesting articles on Antonio Canova:

and I even discovered that there’s an eqivalent to the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians Online (now Oxford Music Online) at Oxford Art Online! Bonus 😀

For those of us in the midst of, or due to embark on, their LIS courses Zotero takes the terror out of compiling accurate and comprehensive bibliographies. Bookends (for Macs) looks good and has some great reviews so I’ll definitely be interested in trying that out when the time comes!