Growth of the CODA Repositories

Growth of the CODA Repositories

The Caltech Collection of Online Digital Archives (CODA) has been receiving a lot of publicity in the Open Access Authoring @ Caltech blog site ( This is partly due to the increase of faculty and student awareness and interest in the on-line availability of research material.

When asked to give a brief description of CODA, George Porter, a Technical Reference Librarian in the Sherman Fairchild Library for the last 9 years, first responded that CODA is a number of things. It is primarily a digital collection of all Caltech authored technical reports, books, conference papers, and oral histories from the Caltech archives, as well as a repository for Caltech dissertations and electronic theses (ETD’s). The repository was launched in 2000, and as of 9/5/06 we have 2,884 dissertations on file. It has been mandatory, since 2003, for all graduate students to submit their theses electronically.


George Porter at the SFL Reference Desk.

George further notes a major benefit of having access to Caltech authored research information is the visibility and easy access by multiple users to this data. Prior to this 24-hour-a-day on-line availability, only one hard copy of a paper was available, and it was kept filed away in the Archives. Library staff is currently involved in scanning all pre-2003 theses into CODA. Papers typed over 50 years ago can be digitally enhanced to be clearer than the originals. Geological maps can be saved in high-quality color, with the ability to zoom in and out.

There are several ways to access the information stored in CODA. Papers can be sorted by author, by department, or by date. If one types in the name Noyes in CaltechAUTHORS, one of the papers found will be “A Periodic Table of the Structure of Atoms and its Relation to Ion Formation and Valence”, published on November 15, 1927 by the National Academy of Sciences. The authors, Arthur A. Noyes and Arnold O. Beckman, were at the time professors working in Gates Chemical Laboratory. It would be decades before Caltech buildings were named in their honor. Linus Pauling spoke at the 1968 dedication of the Noyes Laboratory of Chemical Physics. Beckman Institute, one of three places named for Arnold Beckman, opened in 1998.

Papers from as far back as 1914 have been scanned and stored in CaltechAUTHORS. A 1918 paper by Dr. Harry Bateman entitled “Mathematical Theory of Sound Ranging” discusses “the study of methods of locating powerful guns by means of observations of the time of arrival of the sound of their gunfire at one or more observing stations.” This paper references specific battles between England and Germany in WWI. It not only gives the reader the author’s intended information, but it can’t help but provide images of the social and political atmosphere of 1918.

If you browse CaltechAUTHORS by year you will see that, as of September of this year, there are 32 hits for 1932, 46 hits for 1930, only 2 hits for 1944, and 54 hits for 1986. Article counts increase dramatically from 2,000 onward (200-400 per year).


One can also view statistical information about the material stored in CODA. The CaltechAUTHORS list is currently storing over 4000 records, as noted in this graphic.

The Caltech community is truly benefited by having such a rich body of work accessible on-line. CODA not only allows students, faculty, and staff to view research material, but, almost by default, we are also able to read about our shared cultural history.