I would like to address Mike's first question only.
Before I begin, the disclaimer - I am not a librarian, nor have I received any librarian training. What I know I have learned from discussions with our librarians, but I may have misunderstood their "take" - if any librarians are reading this, apologies in advance if I inadvertently misrepresent the collective position on this.
I have been informed that according to the US Library of Congress, the archive medium of choice is still microform - and this is what libraries are really purchasing from ProQuest: their own archive copy. I am not sure why this is so important, but clearly it is and this is at the heart of the discussion about competition for scarce resources.
In his original posting, Mike said: "...but from the standpoint of an aggregated collection at UMI that we already pay for and provide access to, we weren't completely convincing in our answer." It's hard to come up with a convincing answer, when the wrong question is asked - maybe it's time to ask whether the library should continue to pay the UMI subscription fee, in order to obtain the in-house archive copy. The valuable service that ProQuest makes available for free on the Web is indexing - our students can check the DAI database, to locate dissertations of interest. Then, with author, year and institution information, students can either check NDLTD to see if the institution has ETDs or go straight to the institution's online catalog. Frequently, the dissertation of interest is available as an ETD, and students and faculty download the file immediately, for free, to their desktop. If the ETD is not available, the student's can either return to the ProQuest Web site and order the ETD from them, or attempt an interlibrary loan.
My argument back to the library folks is this -
The archive microform copy available at the institution's library supplies access to two kinds of ETDs - those produced at the institution itself, and those produced everywhere else. If resources are, in fact, so limited, then what advantage is gained when spending $20K+ annually for
(a) electronic copies of all theses and dissertations produced at our institution, which they already get for free, and whose maintenance costs are minimal (see Thomas' excellent summary, below)
(b) indexing service for all theses and dissertations produced across the country, which they already get for free AND
(b) an duplicate archive copy, already maintained very efficiently by someone else (i.e., ProQuest).
The answer I am given by our library in response to this is that it is important that we have our own, onsite archive copy of the entire collection... but I cannot seem to get an answer to *why* is it important that we have one.
Looking toward the future -
1. ProQuest may decide to restrict accessibility to its search features, and the question whether to re-institute the subscription will need to be evaluated... but with any luck at all, NDLTD will have its own search engines in place that will negate the need for ProQuest access.
2. The Library of Congress may determine that CDs or some other medium become the archive material of choice. If this happens, then institutions would be able to create their own archive copy of their own ETDs and that might suffice - an inhouse archive copy of the entire US collection of ETDs may not be so vital anymore.
University of North Texas
>>> Judith Edminster <[log in to unmask]> 04/06/05 9:55 PM >>>
Well said, Thomas. I've been giving the same answers to the same basic
questions for five years. Amazingly, they get asked over and over again.
I've come to the conclusion that it's just a form of resistance--resistance
to innovation diffusion.
S & TC Program Director
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403
[log in to unmask]
"The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there."
----- Original Message -----
From: "Thomas Dowling" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2005 5:27 PM
Subject: Re: Two basic questions
> Mike Neuman wrote:
>> First, if UMI already constitutes a kind of union catalog of theses and
>> dissertations, why should we spend scarce resources to provide a
>> duplicative collection?
> What resources are prohibitively scarce? Hardwarily, an ETD server can
> be a hand-me-down PC with its OS upgraded to (free) Linux. You can do
> very well for yourself with free software. In terms of staff time, if
> ETD management adds substantially to your workflow, I'd say you're
> reinventing too many wheels.
> You're talking with librarians? In addition to the points you've
> already made: Ask them how much shelving space they'll need for the next
> 20 years' worth of bound theses and dissertations--or for the last 20
> years' worth, if you want to consider retrospective conversion. Do they
> have nothing else they'd like to do with that space? Who pays for
> binding? Ask them how big a relief it would be to know that no one
> could walk in and rip a few pages out of the only copy on campus in
> order to save time at the photocopier. Ask them the average number of
> times any print dissertation is looked at, by anyone, in a given year
> (and then show them usage stats from ETD sites). In other words, how
> much do they pay every year to house, maintain, and secure a paper
> collection, and how much does that come to, per use?
> Ask them to name any other branch of the scholarly literature that is so
> routinely unavailable to researchers except through paid document
> delivery (the majority of libraries will not send print dissertations
> through inter-library loan). Ask them whether their researchers like
> downloading electronic journal articles to their desktops; if so, how
> much value is there in providing electronic dissertations to the desktop?
> Ask them what they tell patrons at the reference desk who rightly point
> out that they have online access to journal articles, conference papers,
> technical reports, patents, and even books in increasing numbers, but
> when they want a dissertation they're given UMI's phone number and told
> to crack out a credit card.
>> Second, what can be done to prevent downstream piracy and plagiarism of
>> freely available dissertations in PDF format. Granted that capability
>> for manipulation is limited if the person getting access has only the
>> Adobe plug-in, someone intent on misappropriation will have the full
>> Adobe package to edit and re-purpose at will. We clarified that placing
>> a spurious version of the document in place of the original would not be
>> possible, but there was still concern about the possibility of
>> misappropriation . . . as is true for any publicly available electronic
>> resource. Does anyone have a convincing response to this concern?
> Focus on the behavior, not the technology. If I were intent on
> plagiarism and only had access to a bound dissertation, I think having
> to photocopy it, scan it, and run it through OCR would be only a
> medium-sized nuisance - or I'd just buy it from UMI. It would certainly
> be faster and cheaper than writing the paper myself.
> I'm not an expert here, but wouldn't judicious use of the PDF security
> settings handle a lot of this? If copy/paste operations were password
> protected, would that convince people? (I've heard rumors that PDF
> security is hackable, but you've at least made it as cumbersome as the
> old photocopy/scan/OCR option.)
> Thomas Dowling
> Ohio Library and Information Network
> [log in to unmask]