UMMS Affiliation

Lamar Soutter Library

Publication Date


Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Libraries, Digital; Libraries, Medical; Dissertations, Academic; University of Massachusetts Medical School; Lamar Soutter Library; Institutional repositories; Library materials -- Digitization; Project management


Library and Information Science


Objective:This poster describes the Library’s first digitization project: digitizing 300 doctoral dissertations in-house for an institutional repository. The Library hopes to provide a showcase for the medical school’s research, teaching, and scholarship; promote open access to research; and make available an easy way for faculty and researchers to promote and distribute their work.

Method:The Library Director established a team to investigate institutional repository products. The team created a chart assigning weights to important criteria in order to evaluate various systems. In 2006 the Library purchased a license for ProQuest Digital Commons, a hosted system. As a manageable first project, the team focused on digitizing the 300 dissertations produced by one of the graduate schools. The intent was to populate the repository quickly, generate visibility, and gain support across the medical school. The team worked with the graduate school to develop a permissions form and a process to contact alumni. The Library Director decided to scan the dissertations in-house rather than outsource. The team made technical decisions about software and equipment for scanning and creating searchable text, using OCR technology, deciding what metadata to collect, and how to reuse data from the library’s OPAC.

Results:The project is currently well under budget. As of February 2007, more than 65% of the alumni contacted have given permission for their dissertations to be digitized. The 247 dissertations added to the repository have been downloaded more than 6300 times in just eight months. The project was profiled in the school’s internal newsletter, leading to increased visibility and interest. Another graduate school recently agreed to deposit their dissertations in the repository. Continued challenges include workflow, documenting policies and procedures, managing copyright issues, and creating a plan to market and promote the repository on campus.

Conclusion:The Library’s first digitization project has been successful due to library funding, support, and management; the skills of team members; the purchase of a hosted product; and the partnership with the graduate school. Future success will be indicated by continued funding, increased faculty and department participation, and greater campus awareness.

Presented at the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, on May 20, 2007.


digitization project, doctoral dissertations

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Medical Library Association Annual Meeting

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.