23 Things, Thing 18

Blimey! Thing 18 already! And with only another five Things to go, 23 Things is rapidly coming to a close! I never thought I’d manage to get this far but I have so yay!

So, Thing 18 is all about Zotero. When I first started blogging about the 23 Things, Zotero was one of the subjects that I quite happily admitted I knew nothing about. I had not even heard of it. At least with some of the Things, I have had a small glimmer of “Oh yeah…I’ve heard people talking about that…” but Zotero? Zip! Nada!

When I did a quick wiki search for Zotero, I disappointedly discovered that this Mozilla add-on had been launched in 2006. Now I cannot legitimately complain about why on earth Zotero did not exist for my undergraduate degree years! It did! Instead, I can complain about why on earth my library or lecturers did not let me into this tantalisingly amazing little bit of kit?

When I was writing my final year dissertation, I would have killed for a programme that allowed for me to record all of my citations in a quick and easy format! With all the JSTOR and other such online hunting that I had to do to get the obscure information that I needed, having to copy-and-paste or simply copy-down-on-paper anything that I used, my research took a lot longer and I was more at risk of losing all my sources will a simple misplacement of a sheet of paper or a file.

Installing Zotero on Firefox (which I already use) was fairly straight-forward. I must confess that I spent a good few minutes trying to figure out why the little logo thing that should have appeared in my address bar had yet to reveal itself but then it suddenly popped up and away I went!

Using Zotero on blogs has been an interesting experience. I tried testing it out on the Cam23 blog and Libgeek’s 23 Things blog (Adventures in L-Space) and it gave me the option of citing the whole thing or certain posts which was quite nifty. Webpages and other such more simplistic entities were pretty easy to get to grips with too. I then was not too sure about how all this cited information was going to look like or how I was going to be able to actually use it in any constructive fashion.

Thank goodness for the library function and the ability to get all the info in my library transferred onto a Word document. Just clicking and dragging the citations that I need onto a Word document saves a lot of time. It comes out in an acceptable MLA-esque format which means less fixing of your bibliography for essay submission standards. My only gripe is that I would have to go through each individual entry and change the date as it has come out with the frustratingly illogical American dating system (month before the day) and I would not be able to hand in work with such a glaring error, in my mind.

I feel pretty confident in using Zotero and I am amazed at how quick it was to pick up! As Ange Fitzpatrick says in her post on the subject, there is always that horrifying moment when a student appears out of nowhere and asks about citation. I’ve only ever witnessed such an event as an observer but I’ve always been waiting on edge for that one student to tackle me with the unanswerable question. Now thanks to this Thing, I feel more confident in my abilities as a librarian in asking what is essentially a simple question, yet surprisingly complicated if you don’t have the full amount of information at your disposal (or stored in your memory!)

So, students of the world! Bring me your citation queries and quibbles for I am a librarian who actually can answer those issues without looking at you in horror and stuttering my way to asking someone else instead!

I had a quick look at the other citation options out there and I must say that they are equally impressive. Mendeley particularly caught my eye and when I have a bit more spare time or have a new project that involves a lot of research, I might dip into using it as a helpful tool!

I found this on SlideShare and I feel that it really explains the MLA Citation Standards far better than  I was ever taught in university!

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