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Collaborative Libraries, Zotero Co-creation Workshop - Building a Library Reading Room

By Loraine Furter and Simon Worthington

Format: online workshop and on-site Medialab Prado, Madrid
Webcast: and Skype @lorainefurter @mrchristian3
GitHub workshop guide:
Zotero test library group:
Library Web API interface:
Library Web API interface (code):
Etherpad notes:
Duration: 3 hours
Date and time: 3rd September 2015, 18:00 CEST
What to bring along and how to prepare: please bring a laptop (or share one if you can’t bring one) with Zotero installed and your Zotero online account setup. See the ‘Setup Guide’ below.
Level of knowledge: entry level, no prior experience
Language: spoken, English. Software, Zotero - multilingual

The Workshop - what we’ll cover

  1. Collective Libraries, collective librarianship - the big idea and supporting #bookcamping
  2. Using Zotero - building a library and reading room
  3. Beyond the Interface - using Zotero API to design custom interfaces
  4. Discussion and co-creation - ideas and steps for next rapid-prototype round


In the workshop we will create a ‘reading room’ around a single topic to emulate one of the #bookcamping subject tours, for example ‘15M The Academy’

Firstly there will be an entry level tutorial on how to use Zotero an open source bibliographic management software, that can accommodate any media, and allows for personal and collaborative research organisation and commentaries. In the workshop we will build an online library, a reading room and populating it with media.

Secondly, going beyond the Zotero interface. Understanding how Zotero can be used as a database and interfaced via its API to create Web library. We will use an example prototype Website and go through a survey of the ‘State of Zotero’ showing how others are hacking Zotero.

Lastly, an introduction to the ‘big idea’ we have for Zotero’s use. Personally or as groups keeping a catalog of the media and notes in our daily lives is out of control, with an endless stream of services offering to help you get better organised. Zotero’s forte is interoperability, setting it apart from other solutions. We believe Zotero is a valuable tool for sharing expertise, allowing people to take on different roles to act as collective librarians. Through a series of rapid-prototyping, hack-event, we look to explore Zotero as an option to make this much needed ‘Next Step’ in P2P collective knowledge work.


The workshop is taking place as part of Hidden Histories, hosted by Medialab Prado, which will be screened on the digital façade Medialab Prado, Madrid, on September 11th 2015. The project is part of an ongoing cycle by the Hybrid Publishing Consortium of co-creation and rapid prototyping workshops to create open source infrastructures for archiving and publishing.

Setup Guide

Before you start the workshop we need you to have installed Zotero, setup an online Zotero account and used the Zotero account to log onto your local install of Zotero.

  1. Using Zotero, the basics (video)
  2. Install desktop software and browser plugin
    To install using Chrome browser visit the Chrome web store
    Multilingual support (Spanish)
  3. Create a Zotero online account
  4. Connect desktop Zotero and browser extension to the online account
  • Desktop - Open your Zotero desktop app. Go to the menu item; edit > preferences. Go to the Sync TAB and use your login detail to connect to Zotero online.
  • Browser - In your browser navigate to the Extension preferences and input your login details. The options may be different depending on your browser type.
  1. Join the test Zotero workshop online library. Navigate to this address in your browser and once you're logged in with your Zotero credentials click the ‘Join Group’
  2. Install the word processor Zotero plugin. Navigate to the address below and follow the install instructions. It is normal for the plugin not to work correctly, so if you find it will not install or doesn’t properly function you can skip this part.


5 mins - Welcome, introductions and programme outline
15 mins - Collective Libraries, collective librarianship - the big idea and supporting #bookcamping MlP library building
45 mins - Using Zotero - building a library and reading room
15 mins - Break
45 mins - Beyond the Zotero interface
45 mins - Discussion; the big idea, zotero interfaces, co-creation, how-tos, next steps etc
5 mins - Closing

Collective Libraries, collective librarianship - the big idea and supporting #bookcamping

  • A little Zotero history | Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) at George Mason University, Virginia, US | Roy Rosenzweig memorial
  • P2P libraries and knowledge sharing - private and shared librarianship - Zotero as a library Babelfish
  • Co-creation: Connecting Cities workshop, Berlin - Feb 2015, #bbl Bureau for Book Liberation, Annotation Workshop

The Big Idea - A Vision for Zotero for co-creation development

P2P knowledge sharing and allowing public to take on roles as librarians and archivists. Zotero allows for a distributed database, that taps into bibliographic data and translates between other library data systems.

Use cases

  • #bookcamping - p2p online library, easy make, use and maintain
  • MlP - institutional knowledge sharing. simple web widget to create media playlists from all event for display on media façade and library


Bookcamping want to create; an online library, create library collections, create commentaries on collections or titles, allow for sharing online and offline.

Bookcamping scenario. Bookcamping members are attending a meeting on ‘autonomy and art’, over a couple of days people share reading material, discussions and videos. How could Zotero help create a ‘Reading Room’ for further use.

  • Create a shared reading list
  • Invite event attendees to add to an open list - media and commentaries
  • Quickly share the list as ‘play list’ style
  • Over the event and post event add commentaries and create a guide to the subject


MlP are looking to create visibility for their events and workshop, display this on the Web/mobile first and the media façade. All events would have an easy to use library creation playlist and commentary Web interface added to MlP web pages. If all events uses this at MlP over time a P2P library would be created and provide a special public view into the MlP knowledge space.

MlP scenario. A workshop happens on a weekly basis, such as ‘ULAB 2.0’ open learning workshops. At the workshops people can create collections of media mentioned in the workshop, this can be shared as a simple playlist on the media façade on the Web and elsewhere. Using the Hybrid Player media slide shows of specific publications can be made for playback on the Web and media façade.

  • Create a collection per workshop
  • Publish ‘playlist’ to media façade
  • Publish a media slideshow on Web and media façade

Using Zotero - building a library and reading room

A series of exercises to become familiar with Zotero’s core functionalities.

  1. Getting setup - review ‘Setup guide’ procedure
  2. Adding media
  3. Joining a group
  4. Creating a group (reading room)
  5. Creating a collection
  6. Advanced media addition
  7. Adding notes and tags
  8. Exercise: Make a collection and add 5 items on the topic. 2 min review each.
  9. Review learning: list items covered

Break 15 mins

Beyond the Zotero interface

Using/hacking Zotero API to design custom interfaces – a use case:

Library Web API interface:
Zotero test library group:
Library Web API interface (code):


The big idea, zotero interfaces, co-creation, how-tos, next steps etc

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