Monday, June 8, 2009

Annual meeting of the Ohio Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association (OETDA) in Columbus, Ohio

On April 2nd and 3rd, I attended the annual meeting of the Ohio Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Association (OETDA) in lovely Columbus, Ohio. (Photo: Downtown Columbus, from )

Hosted by the Ohio State University, the conference was a veritable feast of information on every aspect of ETDs: cataloging, metadata conversion tools, embargoes, reviewing, preservation plans, repositories, file format standards, and more. (Photo: OSU campus)

Why Ohio? Aside from the fact that I have family there, this conference was worth the trip because Ohio has been a leader in the development of ETD programs and procedures. This leadership is the latest iteration of Ohio’s tradition of innovation in library automation, from the birth of OCLC in the 1960s to the 1996 debut of OhioLINK, the statewide, consortial online catalog.

In 2001 OhioLINK opened its ETD Center, a freely accessible database or shared institutional repository for scholarship from Ohio colleges and universities. The ETD Center utilizes the Open Access Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) to enable retrieval of ETD metadata in any one of three formats: Dublin Core (DC), a customized DC known as ETD Metadata Standard (ETD-MS), and now also MARCXML, the web-transmissible format for MARC catalog records.

The first morning’s program was billed as a “Cataloger’s Showcase.” We heard from Michael Farmer, head of cataloging at Ohio University, who catalogs each of their 300 ETDs per year and estimates he has now done about 5,000 of them. Michael Kreyche and Sevim McCutcheon, Systems Librarian and Catalog Librarian, described Kent State’s ETD cataloging process. Kreyche discussed the OhioLINK ETD MARC Cataloging Interface, which he recently designed to generate MARC records for ETDs. McCutcheon talked us through Kent State’s ETD cataloging process, reminding us that OCLC guidelines say “digital originals should be treated as published items,” so ETDs (unlike their paper predecessors) are considered published items rather than manuscripts. We also heard from Susan Banoun, cataloging head at the University of Cincinnati, and Rocki Strader, who catalogs ETDs at the Ohio State University.

That afternoon, Thomas Dowling talked about developments at the OhioLINK ETD Center, where he is Assistant Director of Library Services. He provided some fascinating statistical tidbits, such as the nations originating the greatest number of downloads (India and China, after the US) and which files are most often or widely downloaded. This year’s “winner” for the most downloads (9633) is “Characterization of Vertical Interconnects in 3-D Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuits (3-D MMIC)” by Qinghua (George) Kang, and with 2788 unique download locations, the most widely accessed ETD is “Flutists’ Family Tree: In Search of the American Flute School” by Demetra Baferos Fair.

The first day’s session concluded with the enthusiastic John Hagen, Manager of West Virginia University’s Institutional Repository, providing updates on the ETD 2009 annual conference of the Networked Digital Libraries of Thesis and Dissertation (NDLTD), which I will attend next week in Pittsburgh, PA. (Photo: downtown Pittsburgh.)

After a great dinner at the Faculty Club, I enjoyed another night’s stay at the luxurious Blackwell Inn, “the only on-campus hotel and conference center at The Ohio State University.”

The following day’s program began with a talk by Kristy Webber, Survey Director at the Survey of Earned Doctorates, with updates and information on data collection and processing issues. She was followed by Angela McCutcheon, Director of ETD at Ohio University, who shared their methods for assuring manuscripts are placed online accurately, reducing rework, and establishing procedures and policies for highly functional ETD operations. The next presenter was a ProQuest/UMI representative who described the process used to handle and review thesis/dissertation documents, and the conference concluded with an Adobe representative who did his utmost to persuade us of our need for the latest version of Acrobat.

Once again, the OETDA conference (my second) provided useful and timely information, great networking, and a generally pleasant experience. If you want to know even more, many presentation materials are available online!

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