Photo by Brenda Lin

SMARTech, Tech’s online repository for scholarly work, recently reached 50,000 records. First coming online in 2004, SMARTech has become an important aspect of the library’s rebranding process as LibraryNEXT. Starting as a home for digitally created scholarship at Tech in 2004, SMARTech is now the future of digital curation.

SMARTech’s repository consists of theses, dissertations, scholarly articles, technical reports, white papers and other such documents that need to be preserved and curated. SMARTech uses DSpace, an open-source software package typically used for creating open-access repositories for scholarly and published digital content. Based on the DSpace repository software, SMARTech’s repository is divided into communities according to the different departments, colleges and labs on campus. Communities range from WREK, the student-owned and student-run radio station, to
individual colleges.

The SMARTech project and the librarians associated with it fall under the department for Campus Engagement and Scholarly Outreach. This department consists of subject librarians and digital initiatives librarians who collaborate on the library’s various initiatives and respond to the evolving needs of researchers
and scholars.

One of SMARTech’s most important uses is in the graduate’s office for thesis and dissertation submission. Tech was one of the earliest universities to digitize its thesis and dissertation submission process. Since 2005, all dissertations have been submitted to SMARTech for review by the graduate’s office. Since its inception, SMARTech has added to its collection every thesis and dissertation published at Tech since the 1920s. To date, SMARTech boasts almost 20,000 theses and dissertations in its collection.

Fred Rascoe, a scholarly communication librarian and part of the SMARTech team, sees it as the future of digital curation.

“While SMARTech has made a lot of progress in reaching 50,000 records, it still has some way to go,” Rascoe said. “We’re at a crossroad where we need to find a balance between wanting to grow the service and working with the resources we have. One of the challenges we face is the general awareness of the service on campus.

“We’re asking ourselves a lot of questions about where we want to take SMARTech from here. We want people to realize that digital curation can be a better part of the library’s service to campus.”

A unique aspect about SMARTech is that it is open to the world. SMARTech showcases and shares what Tech does with the world. Almost all scholarly material that is eligible for open access distribution gets uploaded to SMARTech’s repository.

“What we really want people to understand is that anyone with internet access can access this vast collection. It’s open to the world,” Rascoe said.

Apart from SMARTech’s benefits as a research tool and for online thesis submission, it is powerful in that it helps preserve and document Tech’s history. A quick look around the site unearths newsletters, speeches and documents from decades ago giving students an insight into the past.