Here’s what I’ve learned:
A lot of repositories have really lousy metadata. Not WakeSpace, of course, but-you know-other schools. Name something you’d expect in a record for a thesis, and I’ve seen examples where it’s missing or stuffed into the wrong field. The name of the school (chronicallly missing: you get a lot of “publishers” named eScholar-tastic DigiSpace @ Tech!); any URL for the record; the degree and department; advisor names; even the author’s name have all come up missing. At least the no-authors school responded with a rueful “Oops” when I let them know. OATD has a lot of ad hoc code to make specific schools’ records look as good as they can, but there are still a lot of sites that could easily communicate more aboutcontent.
A lot of schools honestly never thought about their metadata actually being used by anyone or anything outside their own system.
When Googlebot and Bingbot aren’t hitting OATD hard enough to crash it (we keep tweaking the settings to let them index the site without killing it), people are actually using it. Google Analytics has an addictive real-time display: at the moment, 17 people are using the site, not just in the U.S. but also in Spain, Canada, Lithuania, Madagascar (really!), and a handful of other countries.
When I ask people what they’d like to see in OATD, librarians almost always say browsing by author, but no one else does. I don’t (yet?) have a good way to implement browsing, but I’m not sure it’s a real-world need.