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HathiTrust: Shared Digital Library

HathiTrust is a shared digital library of full-text resources from the collections of the University of California system, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (the consortium of the Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago), and the University of Virginia. Users can now find links to HathiTrust volumes, including University of California Google digitized works, in the Next Generation Melvyl Pilot. There are approximately 5.5 million digital volumes in HathiTrust, many unique. Hathi (pronounced hah-tee) takes its name from the Hindi word for elephant, which is known for its memory, wisdom, and trustworthiness. Its primary goal is to preserve the rich digital assets of participating libraries and to create a reliable repository for future generations.

Another goal is to provide free access (whenever possible) to a vast array of research resources. Hathi contains more than 5.5 million volumes of digitized books. Approximately 15 percent (852,238 volumes) of these are in the public domain and can be read online. As more partners join and more digital collections are added, it may well meet its mission to become the primary digital repository for the nation’s great research libraries.

Researchers can utilize the catalog and browse by collection: catalog.hathitrust.org. Users can also search by keyword or phrase across the entire repository using full-text search capabilities. The ease and efficiencies this creates for scholars is one of the reasons this is one of the most important research services under development. The search engine helps identify relevant resources, and if the full-text is not available, the scholar can use the catalog to locate the nearest library where the book is held.

Currently Hathi contains partner institutions’ digitized books from the Google Book Project. Just recently they added University of California books digitized by the Internet Archive. Every effort is made to respect copyright, and HathiTrust provides access only to those publications where permitted by law or by permission of the rights holder.

HathiTrust complements the Google Book Project, but differs in a number of ways. First, this is a non-profit, community-funded initiative. There is an emphasis on expert curation of scholarship that is a hallmark of research libraries. The goal of providing long-term access to information for the public good is a key value. And in the future, there may be digital collections deposited from partner institutions that will not be found in Google.

The future benefits to researchers and society are as enormous as its name. And while HathiTrust is still in its early stages, it is well on its way towards helping to promote scholarship and to advance new knowledge.
For more information, contact Lorelei Tanji, Associate University Librarian for Collections (ltanji@uci.edu or x45216).

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