A recent CDLInfo post highlights UC Davis’ successful project to open for public access (full view) dissertations and theses from Davis by reaching out to alumni authors. The project involved researching contact information and writing each author individually to request that they sign and submit a Rights Holder Creative Commons Declaration Form (CCDF) to have their work opened for worldwide access in HathiTrust. 


As of this writing, UC Davis’ efforts have led to 1255 UC Davis theses and dissertations at HathiTrust being opened for full view access worldwide, complementing the over 600 (and growing) more recent works available at eScholarship. Currently other UC campuses, including UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and UCSF, have theses and dissertations in HathiTrust that are closed for public access due to rights restrictions. UC Davis’ success may indicate the potential  for other projects to open works for full view access on HathiTrust.


This article outlines the steps for how similar projects might be undertaken by other UC libraries. 

The steps need not be followed in exact order but can be adjusted to fit your project and team.


Step 1: Identify Your Campus’ Theses and Dissertations in HathiTrust

Rather than try and locate your campus' theses and dissertations in HathiTrust yourself, it is faster, easier, and more thorough to contact HathiTrust Support to request this information. Let them know you would like to identify your campus’ theses and dissertations for the purpose of contacting the authors and requesting that they open their work for full view access. Be sure to request the HathiTrust identifier, title, author, “publication” year, and rights status for the volumes. Alternatively, UC campus libraries are welcome to file a ticket with the Digitization team, and we will help locate the volumes.


Step 2: Identify the scope of your project and the people to do the work.

The work to open theses and dissertations can be quite flexible - it can be done in short intense bursts or completed slowly over a long period of time. It can involve a single person or a team. It can be taken up and put off without much consequence as fits with competing priorities. Each volume could be taken on as a single project, or the work can be divided into small or large clusters of volumes. Keep this in mind as you scope out your project and choose who will work on it. 


Step 3: Let HathiTrust know about your project

Before you start your project, let HathiTrust know you are planning to open your campus’ theses and dissertations by contacting alumni authors and requesting they submit a signed CCDF. HathiTrust might provide useful advice and would likely appreciate a heads up to expect a greater inflow of CCDF’s that require processing. 

CDL’s Digitization team would also like to know if you plan to undertake such a project, so please cc us (uc-hathitrust@universityofcalifornia.edu) on your request to HathiTrust Support.


Step 4: Pinpoint target publication year/s

UC Davis, with the advice of their library’s Scholarly Communications Officer, decided to target the year 1978 and work forward. During the course of the project they contacted authors who completed their ETD from 1978 and worked forward by year through 1988. So far, 27% of the authors contacted by UC Davis have opened their ETD for full view access in HathiTrust, and signed CCDF’s for this project continue to trickle in. This is a remarkable success rate and suggests that 1978 was a good target start point.


Step 5: Draft a template letter/email to customize for each request

UC Davis’ contact template was very successful and luckily, they are happy to share it here!  Physical letters should be sent using library letterhead and envelopes. In your signature, be sure to include multiple ways an author may contact you, so they can use their preferred method; as appropriate provide your email, physical address, and phone number.


Dear <name of alumni author>:

I am writing from the UC <fill in your campus> Library to ask if you would be willing to make your <dissertation or thesis>,  <title of work>, openly available to patrons for full text access.

The library has recently digitized many of its theses and dissertations–including yours–for preservation purposes. These are now held by an online repository called the HathiTrust Digital Library (see www.hathitrust.org link here), of which UC is a founding partner and which is administered by the University of Michigan. However, to make these titles full text accessible to researchers and the general public, a permission form ( see https://www.hathitrust.org/permissions_agreement) needs to be filled out and submitted by the copyright holder (which is you) or their legal representative. 

If you do decide to complete the form, we ask that you send it via email to feedback@issues.hathitrust.org with a cc to our departmental email address at <your department's email address>.

The form asks you to select a Creative Commons license specifying the reuse terms of your work. If you have any questions about which license to choose, please see the brief descriptions HathiTrust has included in their form (https://www.hathitrust.org/creative_commons_declaration_form) or visit the Creative Commons website for more detailed information: https://creativecommons.org/share-your-work

Here again is a link to the HathiTrust permission form: https://www.hathitrust.org/creative_commons_declaration_form

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Best wishes,

<signature of library contact>

<library contact’s name, institution, and contact info>


Step 6 :  Identify tools and resources for author contact information research

Finding email and/or physical addresses for authors can take a little sleuthing. UC Davis used Google Search, Spokeo (the free version), and UC Davis Alumni Directories to find author contact information. They also made some use of access to the digitized scans of theses and dissertations that ETAS provided during the shutdown. ETAS allowed them to check the front matter for additional information when an author had a common name and required further means of identification. Now that ETAS is no longer active on UC campuses and access to the digitized scans is not available, it might be helpful to consult the physical volumes if needed.


Step 7: Send request letters and respond to any questions

Once you’ve sent requests out, be prepared to answer any questions you might get from the authors you have contacted. And be ready to refer them to HathiTrust for additional information.


Step 8: Be in contact w/HathiTrust to tally results (we can help with this too!)

HathiTrust can let you know how many of your query letters were successful. The Digitization team can also retrieve this information for you, just file a ticket with us.


Step 9: Share your success

Please share your success, and any tips or advice you learn along the way with other UC Libraries and HathiTrust members. Write a blog post, post on social media, send emails, and (as always) please submit a ticket to let us know!