Multiple library support

Hi everyone,
Yes, another idea from me. I hope I don't get cut off soon. I'm sure someone has mentioned this before, but I couldn't find it in the forums. I'd like to be able to create multiple libraries. For example, I'd like to have different libraries for work and personal use.
  • You've got a few options already - a simple way to do this would be to just tag everything for work with "work" and everything for home with "home", and set up smart collections for each. If, however, you're looking for more advanced functionality, you might consider setting up multiple Firefox profiles (each profile will have its own Zotero library); check out Mozilla's documentation at
  • Oh this is great! I love the idea of multiple profiles! I didn't even know you could do that. This will be great for managing my home vs work bookmarks too. Thank you so much.
  • Personally, I would prefer to implement distinct libraries and have them be located in a folder of my choosing and thus second this feature suggestion.

    I agree with the desire to have subject/topic/domain specific libraries.

    Another reason for independent libraries, in my case, is that I keep all of my "data" on a different disk than where programs (e.g. Firefox) are installed. I keep the programs disk partition small and don't want that space filled up with my data files.

    Finally, being able to specify library locations within Zotero would allow me to easily find and use the same library from my desktop machine or from my networked laptop when I want to work in a different location than my home office. I am able to do exactly this with most other applications that I use everyday. I'm not suggesting "server" support for multiple simultaneous users of a single library. Currently, with Outlook for example, I shut down the application on one machine so that I can access the file/database from a different machine on my home network.
  • I'll chip in a request on this one too. The tagging approach involves an extra step for each item addition, and makes searching messy (always having to add a term to exclude the virtual library you *don't* want to search).

    I know it's possible to use different libraries by either changing the custom library location, or using different FF profiles. But a quick "switch library" option in the UI would be better.

    The Microsoft OneNote guys had a lengthy debate with their users over multiple notebooks in the UI. They thought them unnecessary on the grounds that the organisational means they already had were technically sufficient to segregate different categories of information. But in the end they gave up, under repeated assault. There's a human-factorsish almost physical appeal to the idea of being able to entirely separate information you're collecting for entirely different purposes.

    My personal reason for wanting this is that I've found Zotero so useful for academic info, I've found myself wanting to store personal stuff in there too. But I'd rather they were stored in different places, ideally.
  • Well, I wouldn't argue that there couldn't be a use for completely separate libraries or that the current organizational means within Zotero are necessarily sufficient—simply that Firefox already provides this, and I don't see why we'd re-implement existing functionality.

    Set Firefox to show the profile manager whenever Firefox opens, and you have your completely separate Zotero libraries (in addition to separate bookmarks, home page, history, etc.).

    Now, maybe there's a use case where you'd come across something while browsing and want to store it in one or another library, but I don't think that single case would justify the major architectural work that this would require when the basic functionality already exists in the browser.
  • If this were easy to do, I'd argue the point further (I think you mischaracterise the use case somewhat). But it hadn't occurred to me that this would be a major change. Given that it is, I can see it probably wouldn't be worth the trouble as workarounds are available.

    They are workarounds, though, and not completely equivalent to having separate libraries. Using a separate FF profile for a heavy firefox user would be a complete pain (passwords, bookmarks, cookies, form auto-fill, add-ins etc); really a vastly bigger context-switch for the user than just changing libraries.

    Using tags or collections to split things up would make more sense for me than separate FF profiles. I've seen mention somewhere in these forums of the idea of configurable default tags (ie. that would be applied automatically to new items). Having this (and/or configurable default collections) would make this kind of thing easier.
  • raf
    edited June 23, 2007
    I started to use two (and now three) different FF profiles a few months ago, especially due to the reasons stated in the above. However, I always thought that the major drawback was that FF only allows one profile to be open at the same time -- which I discovered is not true after I saw this website.

    In other words, the multiple profile solution is interesting, especially because one easily can have two FF profiles running simultaneously. The website in the above explains it clearly. In each profile one can customize the location of the Zotero folder, too. As such, one can have one Zotero folder with two or three sub-Zotero folders on any partition of the hard drive, according to the amount of FF (or Zotero) profiles one sets up.
  • Well, I know it can be done, but for me it would make absolutely no sense to duplicate a mass of stuff in two FF profiles (yet another synchronisation nightmare) just to be able to use separate Zotero libraries. Definitely the proverbial sledgehammer .. and I'd have to buy more RAM if I wanted to run them simultaneously ;)
  • Depending on your platform, this could also be scripted with varying degrees of ease. On OS X or Linux, you'd just use a shell script to delete and recreate a symbolic link pointing to one or another directory, and on OS X maybe tie it to an AppleScript (which could also restart Firefox) placed in the Dock for single-click access. On Windows you could probably use a batch file to accomplish more or less the same thing.

    For Mac users, there's also a shareware program, rooSwitch, that makes this sort of thing easier, though I've never tried it. Probably equivalents on Windows.
  • Follow-up:
This discussion has been closed.