Make search work across private and group libraries

I know this has come up before, and I saw there was a big discussion about group libraries in Nov. Right now, having search not work across libraries is a major obstacle. I don't care so much that the items in my libraries are synced, but I do want to be able to search them with one search request. Otherwise, when I can't remember what project I used an article for or where I stored it, I have to do a search in my library, followed in a search in each of my shared libraries. Since I have shared libraries for each of my projects, this can be quite a pain. One simplification would be to have a single shared library for all my projects (and collections by project), but then I have people sharing files when they really don't need to be in each others' files at all. It may work, but you see the potential problems.

As is, I think this limitation encourages less sharing than more. Originally, I was making a shared library for any project that had more than just me on it. Now I'm being more conservative and only making a shared library when it's absolutely needed. It would be nice to not have the search obstacle be the one thing in the way of more and easier collaboration through group libraries.

Anyone know of other ref managers that don't have this limitation?

  • I agree, Zotero needs this feature badly.
  • We could do the search part of this easily. The problem is mostly figuring out how to present cross-library results in the Advanced Search window, since we don't do that anywhere else in Zotero. One option I could see would be dynamically adding a "Library" column to the results list if "Search in library:" was set to "All Libraries".
  • The other option would be "section headers" so that the results could be subdivided by library (not sure if XUL supports that). But that would interfere with sorting by other fields. I think the dynamic "Library" column would be convenient.
  • I don't know the coding side of it, but to reiterate how useful it would be. We have about 8 group libraries covering similar topics but the libraries are separate depending on what organizations we work with, so often times the same sources are applicable to multiple libraries. It's easy to end up with duplicates which can lead to a lot of wasted time. If I could search all libraries at the same time I could easily clean up the duplicates and drag and drop sources into the applicable folders. If I had 20+ libraries, I would be more likely to search google scholar and just manually add an item instead of searching each library to see if the item already exists.
  • While this facility is definitely my biggest "request" to zotero, one trick i have been using in the meanwhile is to open a blank word doc and launch 'zotero-insert citation' and type the keyword I would have typed in the zotero search window. This pops up all the matching citations across libraries (and shows which library a citation belongs to). Of course, then to access these citations, I have go back to zotero... but as a stop-gap, it works...
  • Hej everybody, quite some time has passed since above discussion.
    I love Z but seriously I think of leaving because of this issue.
    It shouldn't be so hard, shouldn't it.
    Any news / workarounds here?
  • Dan's response in August 2015 had sounded very promising. Am still hoping that this will be implemented soon.
  • Please add this feature. A must have in a world where collaboration is getting more popular.
  • edited August 28, 2019
    Absolutely - search is THE way to deal with giant libraries, and if Zotero wants to keep people on board, it needs to have personal and group libraries searchable. Please work on this issue. By the way, sharachchandra's work around, some four entries up, is a good one for the time being.
  • It's a little roundabout, but with BBT installed you can add select=true to the CAYW URL and it will leave the picked items selected. No idea how this works when picking items across libraries (I don't currently have a multi-library setup active), but worth a shot perhaps. You'd need some kind of hotkey to call up the URL.
  • I don’t believe that multi-library item selection will work, unless something has changed recently
  • It probably won't work then.
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