The Digital Services Department of the George A. Smathers Libraries is working toward building a digital collection of all dissertations written at UF from 1934 to 2006.
The collection will include approximately 12,000 dissertations upon completion.
Project coordinator and library assistant Christy Shorey said the Digital Services Department is about one-third of the way through with the project. She expects the project to be completed in a couple of years.
Once the library receives approval from the author to digitize the contents of a dissertation, the process takes about eight months to complete. Shorey and her team complete quality control checks before and after they outsource the material to a third party to be scanned into the system.
This process includes flipping page by page through both the original and digitized documents to make sure they are as accurate as possible, Shorey said.
“We are digitizing these dissertations partly to have more accessibility to earlier scholarship and partly to help foster new research,” she said.
Shorey said the main goal of this project is to make all the scholarship completed at the university available globally.
Barbara Hood, director of communications at the George A. Smathers Libraries, is working toward exposing this project to alumni who might not be aware of it.
According to a news release, authors who cannot be located will still have their work digitized but will have the option to “opt out” if they choose to keep their dissertations private.
Kristin Page, a doctoral student at the College of Education, said it is important to read previous dissertations to help her write her own.
Page said that these days, all research is done online and previous dissertations help serve as the framework for new knowledge or to see where research on a particular topic has gone over time.
“It is very rare that I will actually go to the library and look for a paper document,” she said.
A version of this story ran on page 8 on 9/10/2013 under the headline "UF Libraries working toward dissertation digitalization"