Zotero is a free and popular tool developed by academics for academics for managing bibliographies to share resources like PDFs.
Consult the syllabus for details about how to connect to Zotero for your course. This guide explains in more detail how to use the platform and helps solve the most common problems / questions.
You can know if you have access to the readings if you can bring up a PDF of any readings listed in the library. If you can’t, the TROUBLESHOOTING section below should help.
The main thing to know is that double-clicking a reading will bring up the PDF attached to it.
HOWEVER, a few items in our Zotero library have more than one PDF attached to them. In those cases, like if you’re getting the wrong chapter when double-clicking at item, single-click on the item to select it, then click the “Attachments” tab near the upper right of the page. You’ll see links to all PDFs for that item and you can select the PDF you need and click the icon to open it. The title of the PDF should make it clear what it is.
A few items in our Zotero library have more than one PDF attached to them. If you’re getting the wrong chapter when double-clicking at item: Single-click on the item to select it, then click the “Attachments” tab near the upper right of the page. You’ll see links to all PDFs for that item and you can select the PDF you need and click the icon to open it.
Using the Zotero website to access the readings will always work, but it’s rather clunky. I HIGHLY recommend that you download and install Zotero on your computer, so you’ll have a much faster, convenient, and clearer interface to the readings that will always be available on your computer. Use the “Standalone” version, as it’s called. It is a small app that is entirely safe to install.
While in the process of installing the Zotero app, you’ll have the option to link the Zotero app to your online zotero.org account. Be sure to do this! If you complete the installation and have not told your Zotero app about your zotero.org account, go into the Zotero preferences menu (however you get to application preferences menus on your platform), and select the “Sync” tab. You can enter your username and password there.
Once you have connected the Zotero app to your zotero.org account, you will see on the leftmost column of your Zotero display, near the bottom, a “Group Libraries” header, and you’ll see a folder with the name of our group library for the course; click on that to see all the readings for the semester.
Double clicking an item opens a PDF, just like on zotero.org.
If an item has multiple PDFs associated with it (like two book chapter scans), you’ll need to click on the arrow to the left of that item to see all the associated PDFs for that item. Then you can double click the one you want to open. Just double clicking the item opens whichever PDF comes first alphabetically (which normally works since there is normally just one PDF per item).
If you’ve only recently joined the group library, Zotero will take a few minutes to download all the PDFs, but eventually you’ll have all of them on your computer. If I update the Zotero library with a new reading (or a better scan or something like that), you’ll automatically get it.
Especially if you ever have bibliographic research to do, Zotero is incredibly helpful in keeping your sources organized and creating bibliographies for you. Learning how to stay organized in your work (whether school or other professional endeavor) is a crucial skill that you’ll want to develop sooner than later because it will save you tremendous amounts of time. You’ll make more money, be happier, etc. This course is a great excuse to start experimenting with finding a process that works best for you. Your future self will thank you!