Publishing a large bibliography on the web, with a faceted search interface?

I'm posting this to gauge the interest of the Zotero community in publishing bibliographies on the web, and making them searchable through a user-friendly, yet powerful faceted search interface. Here's the URL of such a website, that I have recently developed for a community of researchers that wanted to publish a bibliography of 11k+ items: The data is stored in a group library on, and the software uses the Zotero API to sync the data into its own search index.

The first four "facets" in the search interface are actually separate collections in the library, and the hierarchy under each facet corresponds to the hierarchy of subcollections. This structure takes advantage of Zotero's capability to put the same item in multiple collections. The remaining facets are based on specific item fields. Bibliographic metadata is embedded in search results pages and individual item pages, letting visitors easily copy items into their own bibliography with a tool such as Zotero Connector.

The software is built in Python with the Flask framework. With some more work, it could be made generic and customizable enough to be useful to other people or organizations, open sourced, and supplemented with a proper test suite, proper documentation, etc.

The questions are: would you or your organization...

- want something similar?
- fund the development of something similar?
- rather host the software on your/its own servers, or subscribe to the software as a service?

Let me know what you think! If you'd rather reply in private, please write to

  • edited May 16, 2018
    David, this is good work. I would be interested in more information regarding how this could be useful for a group bibliography to be published so the research community can benefit. Thus, there is no organizational interest or funds.

    There are other examples of similar effort, see
    This example might be built using (but I'm not sure of that).

    See this discussion,

    My bibliography organization is focused on tags and not collections. I would like to hear how your product is better than the current online zotero library.
  • @gurdas, thanks for the feedback. Yes, seems to have similar goals to The main target audience for the tool I'm suggesting would probably be research groups like these.

    I can't yet speak of a product, as some work would be required to make the software generic enough for use in other projects, but say we have an open source product, pros and cons over sharing a bibliography directly through might be as follows.


    - A user-friendly faceted search interface that accommodates both expert search and exploratory search needs. Keywords and filters can be combined in any order to refine or expand search results, helping the discovery process. Filters are only offered when they would return actual results, and the simple fact that the number of items associated with each filter is displayed may help the user quickly grasp what's in those search results.
    - Possible to choose the bibliographic style for search results. Search results look more like a bibliography and less like a database table.
    - Seamless integration into a larger website, or custom "branding" for the bibliography, though customization of the web design.
    - More detailed item view, showing the collections an item belongs to.
    - Some extra features such as printing, direct link to search on WorldCat, etc.
    - Possible to develop new features (thanks to the open source license).


    - Installation and customization require web development skills.
    - Self-hosting requires some software maintenance and has a cost.
    - Might be affected by future changes to the Zotero API.
    - Some features are missing, such as exporting items to files, but that could certainly change in the future. A lot more could be done; see last item under "Pros". ;-)

    I'm probably missing other pros and cons!
  • David, are you still working on this? I'd be very much interested in extending your work for use on a wordpress site. I'm working with a non-profit group to create a digital repository of science records for watersheds in Texas and the SW US.

    I'll send you an email as well, but a quick update here on the status of your work would benefit others I'm sure!
  • @BenLabay, glad to hear that you have a similar project! If all goes well, I should be working on this somewhere between December 2018 and March 2019.

    Regarding integration with Wordpress: The software is built in Python, so it would run as a separate app from your Wordpress site, but it could be made to look identical in order to provide a seamless user experience. The template language is Jinja2; if you happen to be using Twig with Wordpress, the syntax is pretty much the same, which could make porting the templates from Wordpress easier.

    I'll try to post an update here whenever there is significant progress with the project.
  • Coordinator of the First World War Studies bibliography mentioned earlier here - it used to be hosted using zotpress under Wordpress. At the moment it is fairly broken, using php scripts which fall foul of the 100-item-max for single calls to the API.
    I would be REALLY interested to hear more about your solution as fixing our bibliography has been on mz list forever.
  • @FHeimburger, too bad your code stumbles on the item limit. This kind of limit is common with any API, so I hope you'll be able to get your script fixed. Though I'll be glad if my solution can be of use to you! I'll post updates here.
Sign In or Register to comment.