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I went down to Emory University this Thursday & Friday to participate in a workshop on the open source software program Zotero. Zotero is a citation management program developed at the Center for History & New Media at George Mason University. A graduate student in reference first introduced us to it and I started using it for a way to manage the Liam Miller personal library. The ease of use & the ability to organize the material make me a fan. The workshop was geared to the teaching not only how it works but also how to explain it to others such as faculty and administrators on why it is such a good & inexpensive answer to EndNote. There were about 20 of us at the workshop, mostly librarians, but had one person from the CDC & and another from the command & general staff school in Virginia. We all had different experiences on how we were using it and how we wanted to use it in the future. According to Trevor from the CHNM the full release of 2.0 should be ready in a couple of weeks.
The first part of Thursday morning was spent in 4 groups each with a different aspect of Zotero.
1.Getting stuff into Zotero- talked about the icons, PDFs, snapshots, etc.
2.Organizing/Annotating your library- group I was in, talked about the notes feature, the collections & subcollections, tags, (using these as maybe cross references for subcollections), the search feature, talked about the use of advanced searches & search history as a way to create new collections.
3.Creating bibliographies- ways to drag & drop small bibliographies if it is just one or two items, creating reports, use of the Word Zotero toolbar, how to export information from Zotero to Word via the clipboard.
4.Sharing/Collaborating- talked about the new features coming up in the 2.0 release, groups which can be either public or private, groups show up as a collection, only things in that folder will be posted to the group folder, syncing which will allow users to use their library from any computer by logging in to the Zotero website.
The next part of the morning was spent talking about the different types of users that might use Zotero. Different types included the high school student who needs just one or two sources for a short paper, a chemistry student who might use it for a 30 page paper, a faculty member writing a book, and a chairman of a department tracking faculty productivity, and a faculty member who wants to use it as part of his syllabus. Questions about what benefit can Zotero provide, which of Zotero features matter, & how we can reach the particular type of user were asked and discussed. Other questions involved what were the users goals, what type of software skill do they have, and what are they currently using was also discussed.
After lunch we discussed how Zotero is being used by the different people at the workshop. The most relevant discussions were about how librarians can use it to communicate with students & faculty. Both by letting users know about it and then using it in classes & bib sessions. One idea I thought of was with the liaisons and their faculty members. Liaisons can set up faculty groups, invite your faculty members and then have a way that the faculty can communicate with you about books, or journals that they are using in their research. If there is a journal we don’t have but a faculty member is finding useful articles in it, then maybe it would be something to look into subscribing. It also maybe easier to keep track of books that are they might be interested in if they see it mentioned on a website then maybe they may save it to their Zotero group and you would have access it to. I don’t know if this would be a quicker way to communicate between faculty but it might be nice to have all the information about faculty members interests in one place.
Other uses mentioned included syllabus integration, faculty productivity, projects across different campuses as well as on campus, teaching it in English composition classes, use in writing centers, teaching & learning centers, and many other uses.
Many other ideas were floated & more information on what the 2.0 upgrade will include were talked about.