Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Zotero/Internet Archive Alliance: Now things are getting interesting!

With proposal deadlines looming early next year and the holidays rapidly approaching, the reader might have missed the big news from earlier in the week: the Zotero project at the Center for History and New Media and the Internet Archive have announced a major new alliance. It has been described by Dan Cohen, director of CHNM as really a match made in heaven: a project to provide free and open source software and services for scholars joining together with the leading open library. The initiative is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has supported earlier Zotero development.

Some of the language in the Chronicle article has caused concern in the library and IR community, especially that this alliance is meant to bypass the library. In her Library2.0 blog Laura Cohen does a great job summarizing these concerns in an entry entitled Zotero Commons: Who Needs Libraries? Note that the follow-up comments to her entry, including some from Dan Cohen himself, are superb.

In addition to his comments in Library2.0, Dan posted an entry in his blog yesterday responding to two misconceptions about the Zotero/IA alliance, that (1) the scope of the Zotero+IA alliance is limited to the Zotero Commons (it's not), and (2) that the Zotero+IA alliance is an end-run around institutional repositories (it's not intended to be). He goes on to say that he wants to ...emphasize that this project does not make IA the exclusive back end for contributions. Indeed, I am aware of several libraries that are already experimenting with using Zotero as an input device for institutional repositories...

There are elements of functionality (proposed or existing today) that we think are exciting, especially various features that will potentially contribute to collaboration between researchers and the care and feeding of scholarly networks. But there are also some fundamental issues incarnate with the sharing of research materials that even a clever initiative like Zotero+IA cannot's nearly Christmas, so I won't use that other nine-letter word beginning with 'C' (cue Boris Karloff)...

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