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Library Marks a Digital Milestone

On Wednesday, May 23, the library cataloged its 1000th electronic thesis. There were no bands playing and no one threw confetti, but it marked a fundamental change in the way libraries work. For generations graduate students have taken copies of their theses and dissertations to be bound and then the library cataloged them and put them on a shelf. And that is where most of them stayed. The majority of these publications are rarely, if ever checked out. Now the library’s Electronic Theses & Dissertation (ETD) system puts graduate students’ work online in electronic format where researchers can and more importantly do see it. Instead of a thesis being looked up once or twice in a decade, the electronic versions are being looked at hundreds of times. This system has changed the impact of graduate student publishing. It used to be that the library collected the best works from around the world and brought them to Provo. Now the library is sending work from Provo around the world.

Some examples of the change in the visibility of BYU graduate students work can be seen by following the thesis of Brent Weight. Weight’s thesis was featured in a news article in 2003 on the establishment of the ETD system (http://newsnet.byu.edu/story.cfm/41390). The printed copy of Weight’s thesis has been checked out of the library a couple of times, but users of the BYU computer network have viewed his thesis over 300 times. Even more interesting is that researchers outside of BYU have viewed Weight’s work almost 800 times.

Some graduate students work seems to attract even more outside attention. Kazumasa Aoyama’s work, Using A Diglot Reader to Teach Kanji: The Effects of Audio and Romaji on the Acquisition of Kanji Vocabulary has been viewed over 16,000 times by researchers outside of BYU.

When people talk about the Internet and what that will mean to the library of the future they don’t have to speculate. At BYU the library of the future is here. There are still books on the shelves, but the information systems of the future are already falling into place. Beyond the online service for graduate student publications The Harold B. Lee Library offers a similar service for faculty using through ScholarsArchive (http://lib.byu.edu/sites/scholarsarchive/).