Making Better Use of Zotero’s “Locate” Button

The button in the upper right-hand corner of the information tab (the right column) uses a technology called OpenURL to try to find a Zotero item in your local library (either in its physical collection or in one of the full-text databases it subscribes to). The link from citation to resource resolves differently for different users: using OpenURL, a scholar affiliated with George Mason University, for example, clicks through to a copy of the resource available through her institution; a scholar affiliated with University of Michigan clicks through to a copy available through his.

You can configure Zotero to find full-text resources through your local institution by clicking the gear icon above the left pane of your Zotero window, selecting Preferences, and manually substituting your library’s link resolver for the default George Mason resolver under OpenURL.

Although CHNM will eventually offer a startup wizard that will help you find your local OpenURL server, you can also check to see if Zotero can locate other (non-GMU) OpenURL servers by opening the Preferences panel and clicking on “Search for resolvers.” If an entry other than Custom appears, Zotero has found another possible OpenURL server (i.e., your computer lies within a range of IP addresses that are able to use another institution’s OpenURL server).

Having configured your link resolver, either manually or automatically, you can then select a reference in your Zotero library and go directly to a copy of it by clicking on the Locate button in the right pane of your Zotero window (make sure the Info tab is active). Assuming your library has a subscription to a database service that provides full-text access to that resource, you can then automatically retrieve it via OpenURL.

Stanford University and the University of Michigan have both published online instructions for configuring Zotero to use their respective link servers. For directories of other OpenURL resolvers, visit the OpenURL Resolver Table, OpenURL Router, and the OCLC OpenURL Resolver Registry. If you’re a librarian or information technologist who has published an OpenURL address for your institution and explained how to use it in conjunction with Zotero, please let us know in this thread.

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