Digitization Project Paves the Way for Future Open Access

Marketing and Communications | November 07, 2013

The Texas A&M University Libraries launched the pilot Thesis and Dissertation Digitization Project last fall, which digitized 300 dissertations from 1940 through 1959, and 63 engineering records of study from 1975 through 1998. The multi-year pilot project is funded by a $15,000 grant from the Texas Pioneer Foundation to support the time and resources needed.

The digitization project enables a comprehensive set of materials to be made available online in the OAK Trust, which is the University Libraries’ institutional repository. With the digitizing of the original legacy engineering records of study and dissertations being completed in March 2013 and September 2013, the fragile, physical copies have been shipped back to storage for preservation. The digitized materials were formatted into PDFs to then be associated with their metadata and uploaded in the digital repository, where they are now available.

It was not until 2004 that it became mandatory for all dissertations at Texas A&M to be made available online for Open Access. The pre-2004 engineering dissertations were cataloged, shelved and stewarded by the Libraries, but had not been digitized until funding for the digitization project became available, allowing these legacy dissertations and records of study to be made accessible online. The engineering records of study were collected from the Engineering Department prior to the start of the project.

“I think the pilot project we have just done can help us form a clear workflow and figure out a budget for the rest of the 13,000 dissertations to be digitized,” said project manager Gary Wan, science librarian and associate professor.

By setting pre-2004 theses and dissertations free online, former students allow researchers worldwide to benefit from an overall wealth of knowledge from previous years at Texas A&M—at no cost to the author of the research material. Since the authors hold the copyright to their research, the only thing they have to do to set their research free online is grant Texas A&M permission to distribute it.

“Overall, this is a fascinating and diverse collection that provides insight into the history of research and pedagogy at A&M,” said Sarah Potvin, metadata librarian for Digital Services and Scholarly Communication. “In making this locally-produced research more readily available in digital form to the A&M community, we hope that researchers may benefit from the innovative work of those who came before them.”

If there are any former students interested in contributing to the Libraries’ digitizing efforts of valuable Texas A&M research, please contact Adelle Hedleston at adelle-h@library.tamu.edu.

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For more information: contact James Solano, Texas A&M University Libraries; 979.862.2764 or agco2012@library.tamu.edu