Thursday, April 7, 2011


I've been experimenting with the Zotero citation and note manager plugin for Firefox. Many people recommend it and it's free, but I've never quite figured out what to do with it yet. So lately I've converted my Printing and Prophecy bibliography to a Zotero database. The idea of a one-click bibliography that switches citation format on demand is appealing, although checking footnotes and bibliographic entries is something I don't really mind doing. There are also extensive note-taking and management features for keeping track of all your good ideas. For Printing and Prophecy, I mostly relied on MS Word documents for this. I made notes with the transcriptions of the primary sources, and then compiled the notes into their own document. It seems like having everything in one database might make things simpler.

So, which of the standard bibliographic databases I use everyday are compatible with Zotero?

Answer: None of them. MLA, WorldCat, JSTOR, and the rest work fine for secondary literature, but ISTC, GW, VDiB, ZVDD do not know about Zotero. Or rather, Zotero doesn't know about them. Someone needs to write a web-scraping plugin for each site, and apparently no techie early modernist has done it yet. I've worked on similar projects before, but I'm not sure when I'll get around to looking at the inner workings of Zotero plugins. For now, Zotero will have to prove itself as a citation manager.

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