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CSUN ScholarWorks Open Access Repository (SOAR): Thesis Digitization Projects

Project Overview:

As part of an ongoing series of Campus Quality Fee grant projects, the Oviatt Library is digitizing the print CSUN Master's thesis collection. The first phase of the project, which ran from August 2013 through June 2014, focused on the first 30 years of the university from 1957 to 1988. The current phase, running from July 2014 through June 2015, covers multi-media and other at risk formats (cassette tapes, VHS, DVD, etc.) Subsequent phases will cover the years between 2001-2012 (Phase III), and 1989-2000 (Phase IV), .

Manuscripts are digitized and then placed directly into ScholarWorks, CSUN's Open Access Institutional Repository. As of January 2015, the first 30 years from 1957 to 1988 have been digitized and placed in the repository.  We are currently working on multi-media analog materials ranging from 1968-2001.

The impact of Digitization:

Digitization has been proven to provide added value to print texts. The project will help CSUN and its students in multiple ways. First, digitized theses will receive a new life and renewed interest online. Thousand-fold increases in access are associated with digital versions of print texts. One thesis from 2001, for example, was checked out of the library three times in the 12 years it was on the library's shelf. However, since being added to ScholarWorks in October 2012, the thesis has been downloaded over 1000 times. Second, students with disabilities will be able to better access the collection. Digital texts with Optical Character Recognition applied to them will allow students with the ability to access these texts.  As was shown in the HathiTrust lawsuit, creating digital indexes of such content for the sake of adhering to the American Disabilities Act (ADA) is considered a Fair Use under copyright law. Finally, increased exposure of the thesis manuscripts will help to return some subjects to the fore. Many subjects have been buried in recent years--in particular from 1960-1990--due to copyright restrictions. One article in particular finds an egregious lack of materials available to even purchase, let alone access, because of overly restrictive copyright policies. (citation here) This project can help to alleviate a small part of this unfortunate gap in the print book record.

Current and Future Projects:

Phase I: (completed) AY 2013-2014; included 4,500 theses from 1957-1988. Access open collection here: http://scholarworks.csun.edu/handle/10211.2/3661

Phase II: (in progress) AY 2014-2015. Digitization of 450 thesis manuscripts with at-risk multimedia formats

Phase III: (tentative) AY 2015-2016. Digitization of 2001-2011 (5000 theses)

Phase IV: (tentative) AY 2016-2017. Digitization of 1989-2000 (5000 theses)