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University Libraries joins HathiTrust

Published: March 17, 2021 Author: Morgan Spehar

Ohio University Libraries is one of the newest members of HathiTrust, a global collaborative of libraries that seeks to preserve the cultural record long into the future. HathiTrust is made up of over 200 member libraries that have created a repository of 17.4 million volumes in their digital library.

As Janet Hulm, assistant dean for collections and digitization strategies, put it simply, HathiTrust is a “collective of research and academic libraries making their text volumes accessible online.” 

Ohio University faculty, staff and students will now be able to view and download full-text files of all materials in the public domain and creative commons-licensed volumes in the HathiTrust collection and will have the ability to text search copyrighted materials.

According to the Libraries’ task force that recommended HathiTrust membership, its “focus on academic collaboration to further research and scholarship through both preservation and access of member-contributed content aligns with University Libraries’ priorities to maintain a strong physical collection while providing its users with access beyond its print holdings.” 

In terms of HathiTrust implementation at University Libraries, the OHIO community now has access to the digital versions of materials that the University Libraries owns in print, which have been digitized by a HathiTrust member. The University Libraries will also have the option of digitizing and depositing new texts into HathiTrust to increase access to those materials and preserve them for the future.

“If someone else has digitized a book and the Libraries has that book in print, we will be able to access the online version through HathiTrust,” Hulm explained. “There are also opportunities to collaborate with other libraries to ensure print retention, where a few libraries would agree to keep the print version of a book … and the digitized version could remain available to everyone.”

The mission of HathiTrust, according to its website, “is to contribute to research, scholarship and the common good by collaboratively collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating and sharing the record of human knowledge.” The organization emphasizes using open access materials and offers access to 6.5 million volumes that are in the U.S. public domain and are freely available online, in addition to the resources that the Libraries owns.

HathiTrust’s emphasis on open-access and sharing materials will not only increase resource accessibility at OHIO, but also provide access to their specialized features for people with print disabilities, which aligns with the Libraries’ strategic goals of making its resources more inclusive and exploring new collaboration opportunities to connect with a wide range of communities.

“There are special services for print-disabled persons, so that we can supply digitized content to them,” Hulm said, later adding that, “[The Libraries] can make requests for full volumes of in-copyright content for people with accessibility accommodations.”  

HathiTrust also offers research-specific resources, such as access to the HathiTrust Research Center (HTRC), which may be particularly helpful to student and faculty researchers interested in digital scholarship research that involves text data mining. The HTRC includes “cutting-edge software tools and cyberinfrastructure” built to help researchers perform computational analysis across the entire HathiTrust corpus. 

According to Hulm, the research component that runs the analytics will be of specific interest to faculty and graduate students doing digital scholarship. 

“I am thrilled that the Ohio University Libraries is now a member of HathiTrust and its global community of research libraries,” said Neil Romanosky, dean of University Libraries. “This membership has so many benefits for our students and faculty: content access and preservation, support for digital humanities research and other digital scholarship, and an option to access digital copies of our in-copyright print collections during some emergency situations, to name just a few. HathiTrust is a great example of a library collaborative that advances teaching, research and learning on a grand scale.”  

For more information about HathiTrust, please contact Janet Hulm.