Community Tales: An Infrastructure for the Collaborative Construction of Digital Theses Repositories




Community Tales: An Infrastructure for the Collaborative Construction of Digital Theses Repositories


"Tales" (pronounced tä'lez in Spanish) is the codename for the ongoing project in charge of the construction of the digital theses collection and associated services at Universidad de las Américas, Puebla (UDLA). UDLA is the first university in Mexico to approve a digital thesis requirement for all its academic programs and only one out of three in Latin America that have similar projects. We would like to share how our project has evolved from an early prototype onto a full-fledged system involving automated upload facilities and complex search, navigation and federation mechanisms. The Libraries Division started the Tales project in the Fall of 1999, when one pilot academic department committed to requiring digital theses and to incorporate them into the repository. Documents received on a floppy disk or a CD in one of the allowed formats (MS-Word, HTML and LaTeX) were converted into HTML, which was used for displaying contents. Documents were parsed and stored according to the ETD-ML definition. his allowed us to reconstruct the thesis on demand to support various navigation and searching mechanisms. Today, Tales implements an institutional policy which requires that all university departments participate in some way in the construction of the repository. The registrar's office provides course and student listings related to thesis projects and also validates that the requirement has been satisfied prior to graduation, academic departments update thesis committees, students upload documents, and advisors review and approve theses for publication in one of various available modalities. The display format is now PDF but the submission and storage formats have remained unchanged. Our thesis repository participates in NDLTD and the OAI initiative. Moreover, we have developed federation mechanisms based on mobile agents that allow our users to query other OAI-compliant repositories in a transparent fashion. Tales is available from