There’s an Elephant in the Library!

HATHI Trust Digital Library, a permanent repository of the collections of major research libraries —


The HathiTrust is a growing partnership of libraries — including the University of Michigan — that are pooling their resources to create the library of the future, for the future.   Nearly 11 million volumes from their combined collections are already available digitally, and millions more will be added in the coming years.

Pronounced “Hot – Tea,” the Hindi word for elephant, the mission of the HathiTrust is to contribute to the common good by collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.

An elephant, so they say, never forgets.

The ambitious goals of the HathiTrust are:

 — To build a reliable and increasingly comprehensive digital archive of library materials converted from print that is co-owned and managed by a number of academic institutions.

To dramatically improve access to these materials in ways that, first and foremost, meet the needs of the co-owning institutions.

— To help preserve these important human records by creating reliable and accessible electronic representations.

— To stimulate redoubled efforts to coordinate shared storage strategies among libraries, thus reducing long-term capital and operating costs of libraries associated with the storage and care of print collections.

— To create and sustain this “public good” in a way that mitigates the problem of free-riders.

— To create a technical framework that is simultaneously responsive to members through the centralized creation of functionality and sufficiently open to the creation of tools and services not created by the central organization.

Through their combined efforts, the participating research libraries hope to ensure the long-term preservation of the collections they have worked to assemble over centuries of time.

Providing as much access to the materials as legally possible is a key part of the preservation strategy.

Legally possible? The majority of works are currently protected by federal copyright law.  These works cannot yet be freely accessed in digital format.

Most works published prior to 1923 will be in public domain, and can be accessed full text if included in the HathiTrust Digital Library collection.

The HathiTrust collection provides full-text search capability to locate otherwise unknown materials,  Acrobat downloads of public domain publications,  and unprecedented access to damaged or lost materials online.

The over 70 institutional members of the HathiTrust Digital Library — including the University of Michigan Library System — are building a collection for the digital knowledge base of the future.