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Zotero Commons

Many scholars and researchers have primary sources that they have scanned, photos they have taken, or other useful scholarly documents they have created, such as finding aids or bibliographies on topics of interest. Currently there is no easy way to share these documents. The Zotero Commons creates a central home for these materials at the Internet Archive, which will archive these kinds of materials permanently while simultaneously making them broadly available to others.

Note: The Zotero Commons is only available to users of Zotero 2.1 and newer.

You can use the Zotero Commons to archive and share scanned documents. This enables three primary capabilities:

  • The availability of permanent, persistent archival, off-site storage for long-term management and use of digital content.
  • The ability to share resources publicly for easy access by other scholars.
  • As an added incentive to donate to the Commons, the Internet Archive will provide free OCRing of your contributions and send you the transcribed text to help you search your personal library.

Enabling the Zotero Commons

  1. Upgrade to Zotero 2.1.
  2. Login to and visit the Zotero Commons settings page.
  3. Follow links from the settings page to create an Internet Archive account and generate your IA S3 Keys.
  4. Copy and paste your IA S3 keys into fields on the Zotero Commons settings page and click the Save Settings button.
  5. A dialog box will pop-up. Confirm that you want to enable the Commons and you will then see the Zotero Commons icon below your personal and group libraries in the left pane of the Zotero client.

Using the Zotero Commons

Before you begin, please understand that sharing via the Zotero Commons is restricted to documents or images you own the copyright to and wish to share, or documents or images that you have scanned or photographed that are in the public domain. If you are unsure if your scans are in the public domain, please consult this guide.

  1. Right-click on the Zotero Commons icon in the left column of your Zotero Firefox extension to create a Commons collection. You will then be prompted to name your collection.
  2. Drag and drop an item with attached files from your personal library into your Zotero Commons collection. Be sure metadata for the items is set correctly before dragging
  3. Be patient. It will take anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours for the Internet Archive to accept and process your contribution. Once it is processed the items will appear in your Commons collection. At any time you can double-click the Commons collection to view the collections page at the Internet Archive.
  4. Eventually the items will appear in your Zotero Commons collection. You can click the “Show Original” button in the right column to view the copy of the selected item in your personal Zotero library.
  5. After a PDF is accepted by the Internet Archive, it will be automatically OCRed. That means that the Internet Archive will attempt to identify any text in an image-based PDF. If the Internet Archive does find text, it will create a new version of the PDF with a hidden text layer, which Zotero will download automatically when you view your Commons collection. This will make the text inside your PDF part of the searchable content of your Zotero library, allowing you to search inside the contents of files you have submitted to the Commons.
commons.txt · Last modified: 2011/03/18 05:16 by rmzelle