Illinois takes cue from Texas on electronic theses

texlibris_illini_vireoThey say good news travels, and the news about the Texas Digital Library’s Vireo application has made it all the way to Illinois, where the Fighting Illini are finding out what UT Austin already knows – that Vireo can make life easier for graduate colleges and libraries handling electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs).

The Texas Digital Library (TDL), headquartered at UT Libraries, is a multi-university consortium that provides shared digital services to institutions of higher learning in the state. UT Austin is a founding member of the organization.

The TDL developed the Vireo application to help graduate schools manage electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs), the digital versions of the documents that master’s and doctoral students must submit to obtain their degrees. In recent years, increasing numbers of universities have required students to submit ETDs in addition to (or in place of) paper copies. However, the tools for managing the unique workflow associated with ETDs – the approval process, for example, and the publication of ETDs in a digital repository – haven’t kept up with these changes in policy. Vireo was created to fill this need and is currently in use at UT Austin, as well as several other universities in the state.

In the fall of 2009, the University of Illinois Graduate College and the Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship (IDEALS) launched a pilot program, in which the university allowed students to deposit their theses and dissertations electronically using the TDL’s Vireo ETD software.

The Graduate College undertook the project in consultation with the Texas Digital Library. Beginning more than a year ago, staff with IDEALS, the University of Illinois digital repository, began working with the TDL to license Vireo for testing and use in the pilot project. In the process of testing and deploying Vireo, the Illinois staff also contributed several code enhancements to the software.

As part of the pilot program, the university offered optional ETD deposit to all students across its more than 300 masters and doctoral programs. In total, the Graduate College processed 223 theses through Vireo, which were then deposited in the IDEALS DSpace repository.

The University of Illinois Graduate College, which oversees more than 10,000 students, has pronounced the fall pilot project an “enormous success.”

You can read more about the Illinois project here. Visit the TDL website to learn more about Vireo.

Mark McFarland is the University of Texas Libraries Associate Director for Digital Initiatives, and Co-Director of the Texas Digital Library.

(Cross-posted at TDL.)

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