Navigating Uncharted Waters
Utilizing Innovative Approaches in Legacy Theses and Dissertations Digitization at the University of Houston Libraries
In 2019, the University of Houston Libraries formed a Theses and Dissertations Digitization Task Force charged with digitizing and making more widely accessible the University’s collection of over 19,800 legacy theses and dissertations. Supported by funding from the John P. McGovern Foundation, this initiative has proven complex and multifaceted, and one that has engaged the task force in a broad range of activities, from purchasing digitization equipment and software to designing a phased, multiyear plan to execute its charge. This plan is structured around digitization preparation (phase one), development of procedures and workflows (phase two), and promotion and communication to the project’s targeted audiences (phase three). The plan contains step-by-step actions to conduct an environmental scan, inventory the theses and dissertations collections, purchase equipment, craft policies, establish procedures and workflows, and develop digital preservation and communication strategies, allowing the task force to achieve effective planning, workflow automation, progress tracking, and procedures documentation. The innovative and creative approaches undertaken by the Theses and Dissertations Digitization Task Force demonstrated collective intelligence resulting in scaled access and dissemination of the University’s research and scholarship that helps to enhance the University’s impact and reputation.
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