How to keep items in personal AND group library updated?

edited November 11, 2017
If you have hundreds or thousands of items that exist in your personal library and one or more group libraries where you are admin/owner, how can you possibly keep the items updated/current in both places?

I am at a loss and hoping others here have found a workable (if not perfect/easy) solution.

As just one example: Often when I save an item to my personal library, it is an ASAP or in-press version where it has a DOI but not yet been assigned a volume, serial, or page numbers. So, I save it in my personal library, then drag-drop it to my group library. At some point, I will update the metadata to include volume/serial/page numbers in the entry in my personal library. Does it mean, each time I do this, I have to go and do the same thing in my group library?
Here's an example of an in-press article:
(it will not be in-press at some point in time, but it is in-press as of Nov 11, 2017)

Tags present an even more dreadful situation. I am continuously adding and cleaning tags. I cannot even imagine a workflow where I could possibly keep them updated in both personal and group library. I mean, I could go the brute force way but that requires an order more time than I have, and I am confident I will still end up with inconsistencies/errors.

What am I missing?
  • I'm not really sure why there is still a "my library" and a "group library". I kind of hoped these would migrate into a more sophisticated solution for this new version. An approach based on permissions would have been nice i.e., letting me share various folders with different users while retaining one rather than multiple libraries. It is tiresome that the group library is seperate from my library (whatever this is... they are all "my" libraries!).
    I guess this is legacy in the code but it starting to feel rather dated.
  • multi level permission will be very nice, I remember a discussion about opening part of the library to public, also the duplicated size in groups.
    all this could be solved if permission were integrated
  • @101james What you are suggesting has a lot of merit, but I would like to refocus this thread to the problem I have posed, and not what could be a better software. I need to know the most efficient method given the current situation.

    @adamsmith @bwiernik @Rintze Can you'll please chime in?

    I am really at a loss about how to keep both my personal library and the group library updated. I am frequently improving the metadata of articles saved a long time ago. I might be adding new tags, or renaming tags because new information requires to fit in to my tags taxonomy (a work in progress). I do not mind the manual labor, but in this case, it is so much that I cannot see any possible way.
  • I don't have anything relevant to say. It's not how I use group libraries, so I don't have any relevant usage suggestions.

    It's pretty clear that there is room for improvements here (both easier updating and relative links/linked items in groups), but I don't think any of it is trivial to code. Certainly not something I could do.
  • Yeah, my recommendation is don’t. I use my personal library as my main research repository. My groups are either for specific projects that need self-contained libraries (like systematic reviews) or for sending items to colleagues. I’d recommend not trying to keep sets of items in sync across libraries but just to regard them as completely separate items for different purposes.
  • @adamsmith, ok
    @bwiernik, don't is not really an option

    @dstillman would it be possible to allow an item to be drag-dropped to a group even if it already exists? Groups already have duplicate detection and merging. So, if I update items in my personal library or another group, at least I should be able to drag-drop them and then use the group's duplicate merge functions. Not very elegant but a step forward from having to manually sync every updated field.
  • Related question: I would like to have a research assistant enter citations into a Word document using a shared group library. The content of that group is the same as "My Library." If the RA enters the citation based on the shared group, is there any way subsequently for it to synch with the identical entry based on "My Library"?

    Basically, I would like to achieve the functional equivalent of us both working from the same library/group, such that subsequent updates in the reference (title, etc etc) will be reflected in the Word citation. But I would like to segregate the RA's access to my main library and limit him to working in the shared group. If, to simplify, I later delete the group, is there a way to reorient the citations (originally referencing the group) in Word to "My Library", given that the content will be the same?

  • No, that's not currently possible without re-inserting the citations into Word.
  • @bwiernik OK, thanks for the quick reply!
  • Seconding this issue. Since I would have to manually update two or more duplicate entries across groups/ My LIbrary I find it's only useful to have one bibliog in Zotero. I useit to make a bibliog available to the public but for my own bibliog I'm stuck with clunky text files on my computer.

    About 2/3 of my public bibliog also belongs in my own personal bibliog. Then I also have a great deal more specialist material that belongs there,b.ut not of interest to the public

    I would like to have one mega bibliog on Zotero - My Library (Everything) - and mark entries as

    Public Group A and/ or
    My Stuff (my own files and books)

    Others would have more than one Group - in fact I probably would if I didn't have to update entriesmanually.

    In use this would act like a second set of Tags only with permissions.
  • Here here! This is an increasingly irritating aspect of Zotero. Collaborating makes it impossible to avoid a) creating duplicate entries and b) coherently searching for anything ... I would have never created a collaborative library ever if I had any idea what a mess it would bestow into my reference management.
  • Re: @gurdas 's comment about drag & drop updating, I think @dstillman agreed that there should be a merge/update functionality when copying items between libraries but I'm not sure if it is a currently planned feature.

    I am also finding it hard to work with group libraries in a way that allows updating of information and doesn't break existing links to documents. But I have no idea what an ideal workflow would look like for Zotero. Has anyone ever proposed anything that seemed good and wasn't rejected as unworkable by the development team?
  • I've also been wondering about this question - seems there is no good solution at this point?
  • We're working on improvements to inter-library dragging and hope to have something better in one of the next couple versions. I'll post here when it's available in beta.
  • edited February 25, 2019
    Just to add a vote for a fully featured permission/transfer system. Not sure what a good design would be. I think both tools for transfer and permission will be needed. At least four types of libraries come to mind:

    1. Personal. Permanent. Needs permission tools.
    2. Research group. Long-lasting or permanent. Needs permission tools.
    3. Course or project. Temporary (but can last for some years), made with the view to be integrated into 1 and/or 2 on closure. Needs transfer tools.
    4. Paper or short project. Temporary, as in 3. Needs transfer tools.

    This would be quite an important addition for our workflows. A system like this would also have to be coupled with some monitoring tools and logs. Who adds what when.

    Thanks for considering.
  • Is there an update on this? Without it, it seems that we have to carefully chose to put items either in the group or personal library, but that very quickly becomes impossible (certainly when using more than 1 group!)
  • any updates on this?
  • Also bumping, existing system of setting up in personal and dragging over attachments works ok for me. Losing the related items thing is a bit of a pain.
  • Bumping. Just started looking into this and the group libraries feature is pretty useless without a merge/sync functionality.

    Really the only feasible solution would be to share "My Library" folders, as the prospect of losing Related Items is a disaster, as I use that extensively to link papers that are cited together.
  • edited January 28, 2023
    +1 for enabling a sync, e.g., via Saved Searchers in one library that gets synced to A Group. (Another way to think about this problem, is that I really just want to share a sub-folder of my Personal Library.)
  • `there was another recent question on the same topic. I agree we really need this feature. As academics, we move references in and out of group libraries depending on the project. But most of the time we want to also include these project references in our main collections. This is important functionality.
  • Also wondering if there are any updates on this?
  • I'm in the same boat with needing to keep some items in multiple shared libraries, and occasionally having to reconcile differences when one copy of an item is updated. Is there any tool that would let you merge differences between copies of a single item in multiple libraries?
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