Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zotero or Zorro?

I prefer Zorro.  (Long post, feel free to skip to links at bottom)

     I can see where Zotero would be useful for group projects.  Members can post articles, websites, and other information sources.  Judges presiding over cases in multiple counties might be able to use it to share resources with their confidential lawyers (law clerks) and secretaries.  I cannot picture the court system embracing Zotero in the near future.  First, Westlaw and Lexis are not Zotero friendly sites; second, the courts do not use the Firefox browser.

     I most likely will not make an effort to use this tool.  Most of the databases I access provide citations in the document delivery.  In addition, I have to check the citations against my style manual (APA, MLA, NY Official Reports Style Manual: depends on project requirements).  See today's links for more information.

     This week's assignment called for the creation and posting of my Zotero library.  Feel free to browse.  I easily added items from Amazon.  I had to enter information manually for the one legal publisher I visited and two legal databases.
     I experienced several quirks with Zotero.  First, I lost my internet connection and had to rely on a public library.  The library system in my county limits users to Internet Explorer.  That eliminated Zotero.  Zotero's homepage does not state that it is a Mozilla Firefox add-on.
     Second, I could not access my school's course resources at this library, the software/hardware was too old.  I experienced this three years ago.  It is odd how one branch has more advanced technology than another branch.   These limitations will adversely affect a library's decision to use Zotero.  If the supporting technology is not available, Zotero is not a Web2.0 tool that will be used professionally.

     It is not as simple as installing a free browser and add-ons on a computer.  Anyone who has worked in a complex organization understands this.  In addition to a multitude of factors, most libraries are at the bottom of the organizational food chain / flow chart.  This leads to other concerns.
Today's Rant:
     If libraries are fighting for technology scraps, how are they to provide patrons access to current educational and employment tools?  As a library school student I could not utilize the online tools provided by my school because this library was technologically insufficient to meet my needs.  Civil service exams, job applications, court forms, DMV transactions, and information for parents are all online.  In many cases, they are only online.  How are parents going to learn about their children's school activities if they cannot go to the library to access the internet.  Oh, they just go online at home.  No, many cannot!  We have to remember that libraries are the only place that large portions of our population can access the internet with a high speed connection.  And that is a topic for another day.  And a topic for a research paper.

     Back from the tangent.

Today's legal links are about citation:
1.  The New York Official Reports Style Manual (  When I worked in chambers this was our primary citation guide.  This is available online at no charge or in print.  
2.  Basic Legal Citation ( from Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School:  Another free legal citation manual.  E-books are available without a charge, too.  
3.  The Bluebook:  (  If you are in the legal field you have heard of the Bluebook.  It is available online for a fee.  Print edition available, too.
And for the non-law person:
4.  The Purdue Owl ( is Purdue's Online Writing Lab.  Surfing this site is not a waste of time.  APA and  MLA are only two of several research and writing tools provided by Purdue.
5.  Grammar Girl ( had to be included in this post.  A search for citations resulted in an informative page that discussed the citation forms for podcasts and the importance of citing sources. 

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