David Stern, Library Director at Saint Xavier University, has been awarded a $3,000 CARLI Research Grant to expand the use of the free Zotero personal knowledge management (PKM) software tool across Illinois academic libraries.
The Zotero PKM software allows a researcher to collect, annotate, organize, cite, and share research material. It handles many types of information files, and seamlessly creates and integrates over 40 styles of citations and footnotes within word processing tools. Sophisticated Zotero organizational options help researchers structure their research projects, creating folders that develop the logic of position papers, and diagraming relational associations among records that facilitate higher level critical thinking. Studies have shown that Zotero provides significant assistance in designing and supporting advanced research projects.
The grant process includes multiple stages:
- Distributed a survey to record present scholar PKM instruction support initiatives and practices. Results are posted on the CARLI website, and will lead to future actions.
- Hold focus groups to determine future program expansion plans and needs.
- Create a clearinghouse of promotional materials and best practices for introducing and supporting the Zotero tool.
- Establish an online community for interactive problem solving. A call for volunteers was recently sent to CARLI committees.
Stern’s first steps in raising awareness of Zotero capabilities will be to prioritize and support training for the key capabilities of the Zotero tool, emphasizing organizing downloaded citations and/or full-text materials; searching downloaded citations, annotations, and/or full-text materials; and repurposing collections of materials.
According to Stern, while the preliminary CARLI Zotero site contains quick overview videos of Zotero capabilities and points to additional Zotero support sites, it is time to develop a suite of more polished and extensive collection of materials, including videos, posters, and additional documentation. The next phase of this grant will gather together librarians across the state to develop a community of interest. This group will assist the principle investigator in prioritizing the production of teaching tools for both librarians and users that will explain and demonstrate the use of Zotero as one example of advanced personal knowledge management (PKM) tools and options.