HathiTrust partnership expands access to library collections

June 20, 2013
Frank Provenzano,
Lynne Raughley, (734) 764-6338, raughley@umich.edu or Frank Provenzano, (734) 647-4411, fproven@umich.edu

ANN ARBOR—The HathiTrust Digital Library will partner with the recently launched Digital Public Library of America to expand discovery and use of HathiTrust’s public domain and other openly available content.

DPLA provides an online portal to freely available digital material held by libraries, archives and museums across the U.S. By offering a unified discovery point for these disparate collections, DPLA aims to make readily available to the public the words, images, sounds and objects of America’s shared cultural heritage.

“HathiTrust’s joining the Digital Public Library of America more than doubles the size of our unified collection and—as so many have asked for—fills it with millions of books,” said DPLA executive director Dan Cohen. “We couldn’t be more delighted.

“Over the last five years, HathiTrust has built an incredible digital infrastructure to store the scanned holdings of its many university and library partners, and we in turn look forward to providing a large general audience for these valuable works and new pathways into them.”

HathiTrust is a community of research institutions working to permanently preserve and make accessible the scholarly and cultural record. HathiTrust grew from a 2007 University of Michigan Library proposal that a consortium of institutions share a copy of their growing digital collections. It encompasses more than 80 institutional partners, and the digitized collections of some of the largest libraries in the world.

According to HathiTrust executive director John Wilkin, the partnership reflects the complementary nature of the two organizations.

“The first priority of HathiTrust has always been preservation,” he said. “But to fulfill the preservation mission, we must provide access: content that can’t be found and used risks being forgotten.”

Wilkin stressed that HathiTrust will continue to enhance its own discovery and access platform, first launched in 2008. But DPLA puts HathiTrust’s collection before a broader audience, alongside innovative search and use tools, including timelines, maps and a growing number of apps.

Of HathiTrust’s nearly 11 million volumes, the metadata records associated with the almost 3.5 million that are freely available will be accessible on the web, and through the DPLA application programming interface, making HathiTrust a DPLA “content hub” (the digitized volumes themselves will continue to reside in HathiTrust).

The partnership makes HathiTrust the single largest DPLA content hub, in the company of institutions such as the Smithsonian, National Archives and New York Public Library.

“DPLA, like HathiTrust, was founded on the belief that digital collections in aggregate become much more valuable than the sum of their parts,” Wilkin said.

This shared vision was a strong incentive to overcome barriers to the partnership, he said. The HathiTrust metadata will be contributed under the terms of a Creative Commons “CC0” license, and Wilkin cites the support of the Online Computer Library Center, the worldwide library cooperative, for the contribution of records possibly derived from its WorldCat database.

Sandy Yee, chair of the OCLC Board of Trustees, said that DPLA’s Data Use Best Practices, which request that users provide attribution to metadata providers, are in keeping with OCLC community data norms.

“We are very pleased to support the discovery of this rich aggregation of freely available texts via the DPLA,” Yee said. “Their work and that of HathiTrust amplifies and extends the efforts of the thousands of library contributors to the OCLC cooperative.”

The partnership officially begins this week, and the data is in the process of being transferred from HathiTrust to the Digital Public Library of America. DPLA will add a special interface for books to supplement its novel map and timeline browsing interfaces, but the HathiTrust content will be available through the current site as soon as the data is loaded.


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