Library must keep dissertations for posterity’s sake

Editor’s Note: Following is an editorial of The Mercury’s editorial board. The Editorial Board consists of the newspaper’s management team (editor-in-chief, managing editor, section editors, advertising manager and copy editor). The editorial board will discuss, debate and develop editorial positions on issues affecting the UTD community as needed. We welcome your responses.

Due to space concerns, library officials had proposed to cease the process of archiving printed, bound versions of doctoral dissertations in the McDermott Library.

However, in a March 17 meeting, the Faculty Senate approved motions from associate professor Robert Nelsen that will continue the process of publishing bound versions alongside the requirement that all dissertations be submitted in a digital format.

The UTD Mercury applauds the efforts of the Faculty Senate.

Keeping dissertations in the library – remembering the wealth of knowledge created at an institution of higher education – is no small part of the larger picture of creating tradition, ownership and school spirit at UTD.

Dusty books on dusty shelves won’t come close to making UTD the ideal institution, but they are a symbol of UTD’s fledgling spark of spirit that must be preserved. If we can’t be proud of our dissertations, the heart of the academically focused institution that UTD has become, how can we ever expect the stands to be packed for the next big basketball game?

Wandering in libraries of other universities, visitors can browse the shelves and find dissertations and theses dating back to the beginning of the school. Most major institutions of higher learning take pride in their collection of academic prowess.

We should too.

Our maroon friends to the north at the University of Oklahoma have a whole section of the library devoted to rows upon rows of red, hard cover dissertations – archived copies of every dissertation published since the university’s inception.

Despite the lack of creativity on the part of their printer, within their covers exists a smorgasbord of the very essence of a university, its knowledge.

As a visitor to OU’s impressive collection, it’s awe-inspiring to look at the product of countless hours of effort and vast fields of knowledge brought together in the library.

The McDermott Library may be pressed for space, but taking away this tradition is not a viable solution.

The current stock of dissertations comprises only 30 or 40 feet of one aisle of books, an insignificant portion of the library’s square footage, but a critical portion of its purpose to the University.

The editorial board voted 5-0 in favor of this opinion.

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