The West Virginia University (WVU) Libraries remain at the forefront of global outreach in supporting research through the early adoption of digital library programs as well as sharing their knowledge and experience by providing assistance to schools interested in implementing electronic thesis and dissertation (ETD) programs and digital repository development to enhance scholarly communications. WVU became the 2nd school in the world to require ETD submission of graduate students in 1998. Over the past 13 years, the WVU Libraries have hosted numerous library scholars from around the world who came to learn about WVU ETD and digital repository programs. The University Libraries have also participated in a variety of other international initiatives to promote open access to scholarly communications.
To put things in context, during summer 2011, the WVU ETD program reached a major milestone with over 5,000 ETDs in the collection since 1998. Presently WVU has over 7,000 graduate students enrolled. Each year, nearly 500 masters and doctoral students submit their ETDs to the wvuScholar institutional repository as part of their graduation requirement. Although a minority of students initially restricts access for publication or patent reasons, over 85% of the ETD collection is available as open access (free), distributed around the world via the Internet.
The University Libraries report that by going online with ETDs, access to WVU graduate research has increased by 145,000% over the former print copy distribution. Print copies of theses and dissertations tend to be overlooked they sit on the shelves and collect dust, whereas their electronic counterparts are downloaded millions of times each year by researchers around the world. Because of the enhanced visibility and access to cutting edge research, ETDs greatly facilitate innovation and economic development through rapid technology transfer as well as social and cultural exchange. By working with developing regions to implement ETD programs, WVU is helping to transform and enrich economies and societies abroad. WVU also benefits by receiving reciprocal open access to the latest research from institutions around the world.
This October, John H. Hagen, ETD Program Coordinator and Institutional Repository Program Manager for the WVU Libraries will deliver several keynote presentations for the International Seminar on Electronic Theses and Repositories at the Peruvian University of Applied Sciences in Lima, Peru. The seminar will offer a series of activities related to digital libraries including a workshop on the “Greenstone” digital library collection distribution system, developed by UNESCO. Another workshop will focus on current data mining techniques and strategies. As part of the national Peruvian Symposium on Digital Theses and Repositories, Hagen’s keynote address will explore how academic institutions can provide support services for graduate students to improve the ETD writing process and facilitate greater student retention and graduation rates. In another keynote presentation, Hagen will discuss ETD program implementation issues; technical, political and intellectual property challenges and successes; as well provide an historical overview of the WVU Libraries’ legacy in the area of digital repository development and scholarly communications engagement with graduate students and faculty. Hagen will also assist with promotions for the international ETD 2012 Symposium, also to be held in Lima, Peru next September. Further information about the International Digital Thesis and Repository seminar series is available online at http://seminario.infotechworld.org/.
Mr. Hagen’s background includes providing leadership for ETD program implementation at WVU since 1996. He has also served on the Board of Directors for the Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD), an international non-profit consortium of thousands of universities worldwide since 1998. Each year he organizes the “ETDs for Rookies Newcomer’s Session” for the international ETD symposia, which provides a tutorial for librarians, graduate school administrators and information technology specialists on a variety of perspectives about ETD implementation issues. Since 2004 he has served as Chair for the NDLTD ETD Awards Committee, which recognizes graduate students who have created outstanding innovative multimedia applications in their ETDs as well as acknowledges ETD leaders. Over the years, 10 WVU graduate students have won the “Innovative ETD Award” and one WVU alumna has won the “Innovative Learning through ETDs Award” for post-graduate research impact. In 2009 Hagen received the international NDLTD ETD Leadership Award at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2009 Hagen also served as Co-chair for the international ETD 2009 Conference, co-sponsored by the WVU Libraries and the University of Pittsburgh Libraries. Hagen was recently appointed Co-chair of the NDLTD International Conferences Committee, in which he will be responsible for soliciting hosts of future annual international ETD Symposia. The NDLTD is truly making a global impact in promoting open access to scholarly communications. This year, the ETD 2011 Symposium was held in Cape Town, South Africa in September. Forthcoming international ETD Symposia include ETD 2012 (Lima, Peru); ETD 2013 (Hong Kong) and ETD 2014 (Leicester, UK). Since 2010, Hagen has also served on the Board of Directors for the US ETD Association (USETDA) in which he is a founding member of the newly formed national non-profit organization.
As the institutional repository program has evolved, the WVU Libraries have also facilitated research promotion for undergraduate students as well as faculty. Since 2005 the WVU Honor’s College has required electronic honor’s thesis submission of undergraduate Honor’s students. Further, the University Libraries have begun to educate and engage faculty in open access scholarly communications by participating in open access publication programs, supporting the National Institute of Health’s mandate for open access to funded research and soliciting faculty to contribute their published works to the wvuScholar institutional repository as well. Presently the WVU Libraries are also working towards membership in the Association of Research Libraries, which will further enhance WVU’s research standing.
With the extensive experience and momentum towards global outreach and support, the WVU Libraries will continue to hold a prominent role in ETD and open access scholarly communications leadership endeavors for years to come. It’s a perfect fit with the 2020 strategic plan as WVU plays an increasingly expanded international role as a premier research institution. For more information about the WVU ETD program legacy visit http://thesis.wvu.edu/.