Archive for January, 2010

Building a Sustainable Zotero Project

As we ring in the new year, we’re tremendously excited about the future of Zotero and the great things in store for 2010: bringing 2.0 out of beta, launching Zotero Commons with the Internet Archive, and introducing even more new features that will continue to make Zotero the most innovative and open platform for researchers. It’s hard to believe that since its modest launch in the fall of 2006, Zotero has been downloaded over four million times and is used worldwide in dozens of languages. Thousands of forum and blog posts and news articles demonstrate that scholars love using an open-source research platform that outclasses commercial alternatives, new and old.

One important part of the future of Zotero is its plan for sustainability. Zotero has been supported by generous grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and was conceived during work on a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. All of these funders encouraged Zotero–as they do with all grantees–to envision a path from dependency on particular funders to a varied and sustainable support base, and so we have been planning for years for models to underwrite the project (including continuing to pursue grants to create new features and to assist underserved markets).

Some in the Zotero community may have recently seen that the Mellon program which funded Zotero, Research in Information Technology, has recently been folded into the Scholarly Communications program at the foundation. They may have wondered if this news might signal trouble for Zotero. Not at all. The Center for History and New Media, where Zotero is based, continues to enjoy an active and productive relationship with the Mellon Foundation, and indeed is still completing work under a Mellon grant for our collaboration with the Internet Archive.

More important, we have already begun to diversify the sources of support for Zotero, precisely in the way that the Mellon Foundation and others have encouraged us. We will soon write more about one major initiative, the Corporation for Digital Scholarship (CDS), a non-profit organization that sharp-eyed users have noticed provides Zotero’s new cloud storage. CDS will work to sustain Zotero and other open-source projects that serve scholars.

In short, as we have for nearly four years, we will continue in 2010 to pursue our overall ambitious goals for the Zotero Project, including its sustainability. We’re looking forward to the new year, and we thank the Zotero community for how far we’ve already come together.

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