Year of Publication


Document Type



Communication and Information Studies



First Advisor

Donald O. Case


The "digital library" (DL) is a communication technology that has the potential to improve communication by removing temporal and geographic barriers and by introducing interactivity. This research focused on the adoption of digital libraries for electronic theses and dissertations (ETD-DL) at universities worldwide. ETD-DLs provide a means for universities to learn about implementing digital libraries in a networked environment.This research used diffusion of innovation theory to explore what has influenced ETD-DL adoption among Networked Digital Library of Theses and Dissertations (NDLTD) member universities. Communication channels were categorized as being either interpersonal or mediated. The perceived importance of these channels was assessed both within and between organizations. Although ETD-DL adoption is an organizational level decision it has implications for both the university and members of the university community. In some cases, these outcomes may be in conflict; for example, what is best for the organization may result in complications for an individual. Therefore the perceived importance of two innovation attributes, relative advantage and compatibility, were examined at both the collective and individual level.This study employed a web-based survey to collect data from the 133 universities in 26 countries that were NDLTD members in December 2002. Respondents were members of the university's "ETD Committee" and represented academic administrators, faculty, librarians, and computer systemsspecialists. Surveys were received from 95 respondents representing 65 universities in 14 countries. Twenty-one of these universities were outside the United States. Universities were from countries with a wide range of economic development.Results provide insights into university attitudes towards a technological innovation for knowledge dissemination. For example, results suggest that interpersonal channels of communication are more important than mediated channels within the organization. Additionally, interpersonal channels are more important for communication within the organization than between organizations. However, mediated channels of communication are more important for those universities that have decided to adopt the ETD-DL but have not yet implemented the union catalog or self-archiving options. There were also significant differences in the importance attributed to these channels by individuals in different jobs. The results also suggest strategies that could encourage development of digital libraries within a social system.