Publication Date


Document Type



Library and Information Science


Objective: This paper describes the Lamar Soutter Library’s process and costs associated with digitizing 300 doctoral dissertations for a newly implemented institutional repository at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Methodology: Project tasks included identifying metadata elements, obtaining and tracking permissions, converting the dissertations to an electronic format, and coordinating workflow between library departments. Each dissertation was scanned, reviewed for quality control, enhanced with a table of contents, processed through an optical character recognition (OCR) function, and added to the institutional repository.

Results: Three hundred and twenty dissertations were digitized and added to the repository for a cost of $23,562, or $0.28 per page. Seventy-four percent of the authors who were contacted (n=282) granted permission to digitize their dissertations. Processing time per title was 170 minutes, for a total processing time of 906 hours. In the first 17 months, full-text dissertations in the collection were downloaded 17,555 times.

Conclusion: Locally digitizing dissertations or other scholarly works for inclusion into institutional repositories can be cost effective, especially if small defined projects are chosen. A successful project serves as an excellent recruitment strategy for the institutional repository and helps libraries build new relationships. Challenges include workflow, cost, developing policies, and obtaining copyright permissions.

Rights and Permissions

This article was first published in Journal of the Medical Library Association, 2008 July; 96(3): 223–229. Link to article on publisher's site. Copyright is retained by the authors.

DOI of Published Version



Journal of the Medical Library Association, 2008 July; 96(3): 223–229. Link to article on publisher's site.

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the Medical Library Association: JMLA

Related Resources

Link to article in PubMed

PubMed ID




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