Today I tried to take care of this student thesis to be cataloged that had been on my desk for almost two months. It had multiple post-its on the front from different coworkers. The special collections librarian said it was a second copy to go to the rare stacks because the topic would be of interest to researchers and sending it there would make it more accessible than staying in the student papers record group (problem in and of itself). Naively, I had said, “catalog it, here are some subjects” and thought that would be that. Cataloger wanted to know if it was a honors thesis or a architecture course paper, because the former had a standard format and the latter was a giant project that should not be tackled piecemeal.
I ventured into the vault to look for the original copy. It was not in the alphabetical file of student papers. It was not in the architecture course papers series. It was not even in the section of student honors theses (which are still in Dewey god help me) though I did sneak a peak at the current university president’s thesis.
The special collections assistant checked the graduation bulletin for the year of the student’s graduation, but the thesis was not listed, making us wonder if she missed a deadline or something like that.
I emailed the university registrar and he confirmed that the thesis was not an honors thesis, the only kind we collect for archives and the only kind listed in the bulletin, it was just a regular senior thesis. Okay, where I went to school only the honors kids bothered with a thesis, but fine. You spend all this work on a thesis and it doesn’t even go in the bulletin because it’s not an “honors” one? So I don’t know now. If the missing first copy is not in the archives, then this needs to be that copy and nothing will go to the rare stacks. If the missing copy isn’t missing, then where is it? How can we provide better access to interesting original research if it doesn’t get cataloged as a monograph?
So now this thesis is back in purgatory on my desk.