“From January to September 2021, Sara Gunasekara of the UC Davis Archives and Special Collections Department, headed by Kevin Miller, undertook a project to expand access to UC Davis theses and dissertations digitized by Google and deposited in HathiTrust. Per copyright law, access to these volumes was restricted, based on their date of “publication.” Sara’s strategy for overcoming this barrier was to contact these alumni authors, asking them to submit a Rights Holder Creative Commons Declaration Form to HathiTrust, in order to have a Creative Commons License applied to their works. As a result, 1,047 UC Davis theses and dissertations were opened for worldwide access, to date, in HathiTrust.
In all, nearly 24,000 UC Davis theses and dissertations (published from 1923 – 2010, with the physical volumes stored at UC’s Northern Regional Library Facility [NRLF]) were digitized by Google in 2017 as part of the Google Library Project. The resulting scans were uploaded to both HathiTrust and Google Books. UC has also partnered with Google to digitize dissertations and theses from UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and UCSF, all of which are also in HathiTrust, which means that UC Davis’ model could be used by these campuses as well – given staff availability.
The UC Davis Archives and Special Collections team had long wanted to conduct an outreach effort to open theses and dissertations in HathiTrust, but did not have the bandwidth until the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. In the past, the team reached out to an author only when their thesis or dissertation was requested through interlibrary loan. This process had introduced them to the challenges and rewards of tracking down and contacting alumni authors, so the team knew what a larger scale project would entail. Then working from home actually provided the opportunity required for such an initiative.”