Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Zotero (Everywhere) and a good idea for the next AAR-SBL

Took the redeye home from San Francisco to Washington Dulles and trying to catch up on a bunch of things...
Moscone Convention Center - Entrance to Exhibit Hall
One of the best parts of the annual AAR-SBL meeting is to wander through the Exhibit Hall. It's great to see the new works that are being featured. You are bound to bump into someone you know. Plenty of little freebies to collect. I, of course, always check in on all the Bible software vendors.

I managed to restrain myself and come away with only a couple books, but there were a lot of books I wanted to remember for future reference. Instead of trying to write down author / title / publisher information, I thought it would be easier to use my Droid X and scan the barcode. At the time, what I ended up doing was using the Amazon Mobile app which allows me to scan the barcode and look it up at Amazon. One thing this accomplished is that I could quickly see the Amazon price and compare what sort of convention discount the publishers were actually offering on the book (and some certainly were and some were not). Second, and actually more important for me, I could add the book to my Amazon wishlist. (I had set my 'Academic Books' to be my default wishlist, so they all went straight there.) Now, when I got home, I pulled up my wishlist, clicked up the books, and was then one more click away from having them saved in my Zotero collection with full bibliographic information intact.
You can click to enlarge the graphic to see my somewhat eclectic / esoteric list. You will also see that I dumped everything in a SBL2011 collection, but from there, I used drag/drop to add them to any of the other collections you can see in the left pane. It's a beautiful thing.

I've been a big fan of Zotero, and it has become my default means of collecting all my bibliographic data, adding notes and tags to the resources, links to Amazon or Review of Books in Religion, etc. In the past, Zotero has required you to use it within Firefox, but they announced in August the beta releases of standalone versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux. (Click for the download links. I've used the Windows one, and it has been stable.) There are now also connectors so that Chrome and Safari users can use Zotero in those browsers. You really have no reason not to use Zotero now.

I should have thought to check ahead of time, however, to see if there were any mobile Zotero apps, and indeed there are. Check them out here. In particular, I would have liked to use Scanner for Zotero (Android) which would allow me to scan directly to Zotero. BibUp functions similarly for iPhone.
UPDATE: Avram Lyon, author of Zandy, indicates in the comments that his Android app now also handles ISBN barcode scanning.
(If anyone has used either of these, I'd appreciate hearing your comments.)


  1. Zandy (https://market.android.com/details?id=com.gimranov.zandy.app) now has support for ISBN bar code scanning as well, starting from the 1.2 release that came out early last week. Zandy also let you access a complete copy of your Zotero database, which can come in handy at events like this too (I know I'm always pulling up references at conferences!).

    Full disclosure: I wrote Zandy.

  2. I just ran across your blog post, actually, because I was looking for some troubleshooting help with BibUp. It seems that BibUp is not compatible with the Chrome connector for Zotero standalone, at least as far as I can tell.

    So, if you are looking to work from an iPhone, it seems we will have to re-download that terrible Firefox (after I was so pleased to delete it when Zotero standalone went live!).

    From what I've read, Zandy seems to be the best of the Zotero apps. I just wish that an iPhone version would be released!

  3. There's an iPhone/iPad app in the works: https://github.com/mronkko/ZotPad

    Not sure how much longer, but Mikko seems to be making good progress on it.