ETD Guide/Universities/Role of the Library and Archives

ETDs have a very positive impact on libraries because they are an easy way to expand services and resources. With ETDs libraries can evolve into digital libraries and online libraries. Because authors create and submit the digital documents and yet others validate them (i.e., graduate school approval), all the library has to do is receive, store, and provide access. This is not a radical departure from what libraries do normally; only these documents are electronic. Today, many libraries are already handling electronic journals, so ETDs can extend the multimedia resources to the online environment and give every library something unique in their digital resources.

The library can do more, such as improving workflow, reducing the time from receipt to public access, and, of course, one ETD can have multiple simultaneous users. ETDs can be submitted directly to the library server so that as soon as they are approved, they can become available to users, eliminating the need to move the documents from the Graduate School to the Library. This change in workflow can also eliminate the time delay previously caused by bounding and cataloging them prior to providing access. The most tenuous and highly emotional service libraries provide to ETDs is archiving. Because not enough time has elapsed to prove that digital documents can live for decades in publicly accessible digital libraries, the uncertainty of online archives causes great unease to many. Libraries must, therefore, be careful about security and back-ups.

Another role that the library plays can be to put a prototype in place. While the Graduate School is nurturing the policy evolution among the academic community, there is a model developing to meet the needs of the academy. Establishing an ETD project Web site that documents the evolving initiative, listing active participants, providing a sample submission form and potential policy statements can do this. These statements might address levels of access, copyright statements, and link to existing ETD initiatives.

When a university is adopting policies about ETDs it is helpful to have a place where its students, faculty, and administrators can see what an electronic library of digital theses and dissertations might be. Many graduate students are anxious to participate in an ETD initiative and the library’s Web site can take advantage of their enthusiasm. Invite students who have complete their TDs to submit them electronically. This will build the initial ETD database and test the submission form as well as give the Graduate School personnel opportunities to compare the old and the new processes with somewhat familiar TDs.

The library is also in a position to offer graduate students the incentive to participate. Most libraries collect binding fees so that theses and dissertations can be bound uniformly. Archiving fees can replace binding fees when ETDs replace paper TDs. However, the library may wish to offer to eliminate this fee for the first (limited number of students) who submit ETDs instead of TDs.

Archiving Electronic Theses DissertationsEdit

The best chance electronic information has of being preserved is when it is used online regularly and continually. As soon as it is not used, there will be trouble remembering the media that produced it and that made it accessible.

As ETDs begin to join the library’s traditional theses and dissertations, it is a good time to align the commitment and the resources to maintain these online information resources over time. A library’s Special Collections Department and/or its University Archives are often responsible for storing and preserving theses and dissertations. Document parallel standards, policies, and procedures for electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).

The academic departments determine the quality of the work of their students, while the individual thesis/dissertation committees approve the student's work on its own merits. The Graduate School primarily oversees mechanical considerations, the purpose of which is to provide a degree of uniformity, to assure that each thesis or dissertation is in a form suitable for reading and/or viewing online and that it can be preserved. The University Archives ensures long-term preservation and access to this record of graduate students’ research.

With digital materials libraries give access and simultaneously prolong the life of the work, ensure the durability of the present through stability of the means of mediation.

Factors Effecting ArchivingEdit

1) Access

The first goal is to have all ETDs online and available all the time from a stable server. If necessary (depending on the capabilities of the server), some ETDs could be moved to a secondary server. Considerations for moving ETDs to a secondary server are usage (ETDs with fewest accesses) or age (oldest ETDs). Formats and file sizes probably would not be a factor in employing a secondary server, though extremely large ETDs may be prime candidates for separate online storage and access. If it becomes necessary to move some ETDs to a secondary server, programs would be written to trigger migration. Currently "age" would be easier to program, but in the future "usage" (actually, lack of use or few downloads) would be preferable characteristics for migrating ETDs to a secondary server for archiving. URNs would link migrated ETDs. URNs could be mapped to PURLs at some future date.

2) Security


ETDs that been submitted but not yet approved should be frequently backed-up (e.g., hourly) if changes have occurred since the last back up; otherwise, generate a back-up programmatically every few hours. Make a weekly back up of ETDs in all directories (i.e., all levels of access). Make copies programmatically and transfer them to another server; make weekly back-ups to tape for off-line storage. Retain copies in quarterly cycles and annually archive to a CD-ROM.


Authors cannot modify their ETDs once approved. Exceptions are made with proper approval. Viewers/readers cannot modify or replace any ETDs. Only in extreme circumstances would the system administrator make modifications to an ETD (e.g., when requested by the Graduate School to change the access restrictions or to activate or change email addresses).

3) Format Migration

The library should share with the university the responsibility to guarantee that ETDs will be available both within and outside the scholarly community indefinitely. To keep ETDs reader-friendly and to retain full access will mean migrating current formats to new standard formats not yet known. This will be done through the cooperative efforts of the library (who maintains the submission software, the database of ETDs, and the secure archive) and university computing expertise. Standard formats should be the only acceptable files approved. Formats recommended for ETDs that may need to be converted to new standards in the future.

Image Formats:

  • CGM (.cgm);
  • GIF (.gif);
  • JPEG (.jpg);
  • PDF (.pdf);
  • PhotoCD;
  • TIFF (.tif)

Video Formats:

  • MPEG (.mpg);
  • QuickTime – Apple (.qt and .mov);
  • Encapsulated Postscript (.eps)

Audio Formats:

  • AIF (.aif);
  • CD-DA , CD-ROM/XA (A or B or C);
  • MIDI (.midi); MPEG-2;
  • SND (.snd);
  • WAV (.wav)

Text Formats:

  • ASCII (.txt);
  • PDF (.pdf);
  • XML/SGML according to the document type: "etd.dtd" (.etd) ETD-ML

Authoring Formats:

  • Authorware, Director (MMM, PICS)

Special Formats:

  • AutoCAD (.dxf);
  • Excel (.xcl)

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