One of our visitors in A&SC today was in search of UAA theses. Generally, the Consortium Library ends up with two copies of each masters thesis produced here at UAA and APU. Both copies are listed in the library catalog and one copy, available for checkout, goes into the general library collections (sometimes Alaskana or Health Sciences, depending on topic) and one comes to the Rare Books Room here in A&SC. Both copies will have the same call number based on the Library of Congress class system: that is, by subject, not by degree type. And they’re shelved in LC call number order. It’s easy to differentiate between the UAA and APU theses because they’re color-coded: UAA are generally bound in green and APU in blue, or some of the older APU theses are in black.
So if they’re listed in the library catalog and there’s checkout copies in the regular book collections, why deal with A&SC’s limited hours (10-4, M-F) and use policies? Sometimes it’s because the circulating copy is checked out. Sometimes the circulating copy may be missing. But most often, it’s because the researcher wants to look at a bunch from a similar topic, or wants to look at ones from a similar time frame rather than seeking a specific thesis, and it’s easier to browse theses when they’re all in one small room on shelves that don’t include other books.
But use here in A&SC is a little more limited than for the ones in the library book stacks. For one, all copies made from the thesis have to be made by A&SC personnel and that can occasionally get expensive (or depending on the copy count, could result a delay in getting copies.) Secondly, the Rare Book Room copies can’t leave the A&SC area and have to be used under our supervision. That might sound a little draconian, but as a university library we do have something of an obligation to preserve at least one copy of each permanently so that means we have to provide some security for them.
Oh, and if you’re looking for a thesis in the catalog and can’t find it, here’s some suggestions. First, how recent was it? The Library is pretty quick about getting the theses bound and cataloged and into the stacks, but there is a delay because these processes do take time. So if it was a thesis just completed within the last few months, we might not have it just yet. If it’s a little older and you’re seeing other more recent theses appearing, our next question would be: are you sure it was a thesis? A lot of masters degrees here at UAA offer a project option instead of a thesis as the capstone for the degree and copies of the projects don’t currently come to the library. If you’re not sure, you might want to talk to someone in the specific masters program to see if they can help.
And by the way, we don’t have a separate listing of each thesis by degree type. Some colleges do keep these, so if that’s what you’re looking for, you might start with the college. That sounds like an interesting indexing project, doesn’t it? Maybe someday the library will have a volunteer interested in compiling a list like that.