Science - June 19, 2012

All 5,200 theses have been digitized

The oldest dates from 1920, the thickest, by Theo Spek, has 1,100 pages and the thinnest, by J.P. Roozen, a mere 11 pages. The university's five thousand PhD theses have now been scanned and are available in digital format. Executive Board member Tijs Breukink scanned the last of the 930,000 theses pages on 18 June.

Tijs Breukink examines Wageningen's thinnest thesis. The librarian Ger Spikman is on the right.
Librarian Ger Spikman calls it a milestone: all of Wageningen's 5,200 theses have now been scanned and are available digitally. It started with them scanning each individual page manually. Then the library staff sacrificed one copy of each thesis, which was cut up so that the pages could be put through the scanner automatically. This way, they were able to digitize more than a hundred theses a day.
Incidentally, the library still keeps the print versions of the theses in storage in the Forum basement. They currently have a row of theses 125 metres long. That row will only grow over the next few years as they get more than two hundred new PhD theses every year. However they no longer need to scan the new theses as the doctoral students provide the university library with a digital version of their work.
The most remarkable thesis is that by J.P. Roozen in 1972, about Inactivation of peroxidase, pectinesterase and alkaline phosphatase in polymers as a model for irradiation of dried foodstuffs. The title might be long but the thesis itself only numbers 11 pages - summarizing a handful of papers in German about this food science research. The vast majority of the theses are in English but there are also 569 in Dutch, 27 in French, 12 in German and 13 in Spanish. And not to be forgotten, one Frisian thesis and three in Afrikaans.
 
 

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