Saturday, May 29, 2010

My new fave search engine is Zotero

[This is an older post of mine that was on a now-retired community blog called]

While Zotero – “the free, easy-to-use Firefox extension to help you collect, manage, and cite your research sources” – isn’t exactly new, the program recently made the jump from 1.0 to 2.0 (beta) and with in doing so, has become social software and something more: it’s becoming a favourite search engine of mine.
But let me back it up a bit so I can say a little bit about custom or personalized search engines. I think they’re great and I wish more people would find them so they could enjoy their greatness too.

For example, I use LISZEN to search the library blogosphere and search my own homemade Google Custom Search Engine of OCUL libraries whenever I wonder if someone up the highway has some insight on the matter at hand. The University of Winnipeg uses a Custom Google Search Engine for its Canadian Art Library Guide, which I think is a brilliant application and breathes new life into the traditional library subject guide. And at one time, I entertained the notion that libraries could use Google Custom Search Engines as an alternative to the proprietary indexes that we offer, but after trying out The Economics Search Engine of 23 000 economics web sites  its pretty clear that this technology doesn’t scale. That’s too bad because I think we need a prominent index of the open access journal content out there.

OK. Back to Zotero.

I had waited to try out Zotero properly only after Zotero turned 2.0 because I was waiting for its automatic backup and synch features. And in the last handful of weeks, I’ve been slowly adding material into my Zotero library as a way to get a feel for the software. And then it just today that I realized that Zotero was indexing not just the metadata of the websites and journal articles I was planting into it – it was indexing the fulltext of the saved snapshots as well as and the text in the saved pdfs.

So, I plunked in the annual literature reviews dedicated to Library Instruction and Information Literacy from Reference Services Review and voila! I had myself my own little Information Literacy Research Index in my browser!

If you haven’t tried out Zotero yet, I wholeheartedly encourage you to do so. Zotero has some big plans they are working on including a partnership with the Internet Archive. That’s the project that really intrigues me. Not only will scholars be able to add material from the Internet Archive into their personal Zotero libraries but they will also be able to contribute their own digital work contributions into its commons.

When I think I of the future of libraries, I can’t help but think our future dovetailing into Zotero somehow.

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