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Type of site
Digital library
OwnerUniversity consortium
RevenueUS$3,777,445 (2019 projections for proposal)[1]
LaunchedOctober 2008; 15 years ago (October 2008)
Current statusActive
Content license
Public domain (with restrictions on Google scans), various[3]
Written inPerl, Java[2]

HathiTrust Digital Library is a large-scale collaborative repository of digital content from research libraries including content digitized via Google Books and the Internet Archive digitization initiatives, as well as content digitized locally by libraries.


Hathi (IPA: [hah-tee]), derived from the Sanskrit hastin, is the Hindi/Urdu word for 'elephant', an animal famed for its long-term memory.[4]


HathiTrust was founded in October 2008 by the twelve universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the eleven libraries of the University of California.[5] The partnership includes over 60 research libraries[6] across the United States, Canada, and Europe, and is based on a shared governance structure. Costs are shared by the participating libraries and library consortia.[7] The repository is administered by the University of Michigan.[8] The executive director of HathiTrust is Mike Furlough,[9] who succeeded founding director John Wilkin after Wilkin stepped down in 2013.[10] The HathiTrust Shared Print Program is a distributed collective collection whose participating libraries have committed to retaining almost 18 million monograph volumes for 25 years, representing three-quarters of HathiTrust digital book holdings.[11]

In September 2011, the Authors Guild sued HathiTrust (Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust), alleging massive copyright violation.[12] A federal court ruled against the Authors Guild in October 2012, finding that HathiTrust's use of books scanned by Google was fair use under US law.[13] The court's opinion relied on the transformativeness doctrine of federal copyright law, holding that the Trust had transformed the copyrighted works without infringing on the copyright holders' rights. That decision was largely affirmed by the Second Circuit on June 10, 2014, which found that providing search and accessibility for the visually impaired were grounds to consider the service transformative and fair use, and remanded to the lower court to reconsider whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue regarding HathiTrust's library preservation copies.[14]

In October 2015, HathiTrust comprised over 13.7 million volumes, including 5.3 million in the public domain in the United States. HathiTrust provides a number of discovery and access services, notably, full-text search across the entire repository. In 2016 over 6.17 million users located in the United States and in 236 other nations used HathiTrust in 10.92 million sessions.[15]

As of 2021, the copyright policy states that "many works in our collection are protected by copyright law, so we cannot ordinarily publicly display large portions of those protected works unless we have permission from the copyright holder", and thus "if we cannot determine the copyright or permission status of a work, we restrict access to that work until we can establish its status. Because of differences in international copyright laws, access is also restricted for users outside the United States to works published outside the United States after and including 1896."[16]


PageTurner is the web application on the HathiTrust website for viewing publications.[17] From PageTurner readers can navigate through a publication, download a PDF version of it, and view pages in different ways, such as one page at a time, scrolling, flipping, or thumbnail views.[17][18]

Emergency Temporary Access Service

The Emergency Temporary Access Service[19] (ETAS) is a service provided by HathiTrust that makes it possible in certain special situations, such as closure of a library for a public health emergency, for users of HathiTrust member libraries to obtain lawful access to copyright digital materials in place of the corresponding physical books held by the same library.

See also


  1. ^ "2018 Member Meeting" (PDF). HathiTrust. October 2018. p. 56. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-01-18. Retrieved 2018-12-31. Slides in PDF.
  2. ^ a b "Technological Profile". HathiTrust. Archived from the original on 16 June 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  3. ^ "Access and Use Policies". HathiTrust. Archived from the original on 16 June 2016. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  4. ^ "Launch of HathiTrust: Major Library Partners Launch HathiTrust Shared Digital Repository" (Press release). HathiTrust. October 13, 2008. Archived from the original on August 19, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  5. ^ Karels, Liene (November 2010). "HathiTrust adds new members, goes global". University of Michigan. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  6. ^ "HathiTrust Partnership Community". HathiTrust. Archived from the original on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  7. ^ "Cost". HathiTrust. Archived from the original on 2019-01-18. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  8. ^ "Governance". HathiTrust. Archived from the original on 2019-06-21. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  9. ^ "HathiTrust Staff". HathiTrust. Archived from the original on 2019-06-21. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  10. ^ "Update on May 2013 Activities". HathiTrust. June 14, 2013. Archived from the original on 2023-03-16. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  11. ^ "Shared Print Program". HathiTrust Digital Library. Archived from the original on 2019-11-27. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  12. ^ Bosman, Julie (September 12, 2011). "Lawsuit Seeks the Removal of a Digital Book Collection". The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 19, 2012. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  13. ^ Albanese, Andrew (11 October 2012). "Google Scanning Is Fair Use Says Judge". Publishers Weekly. Archived from the original on 15 October 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  14. ^ "Authors Guild v. HathiTrust" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 8, 2014.
  15. ^ Zaytsev, Angelina (February 2017). "14 Million Books & 6 Million Visitors: HathiTrust Growth and Usage in 2016" (PDF). HathiTrust. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-02-24. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  16. ^ "Trust copyright policy - restrictions on access". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
  17. ^ a b Meltzer, Ellen (May 9, 2011). "Viewing HathiTrust books just got better". California Digital Library. Archived from the original on June 21, 2019. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  18. ^ "HathiTrust User's Guide" (PDF). HathiTrust. May 2012. p. 8. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-01-09. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  19. ^ "Emergency Temporary Access Service". HathiTrust Digital Library.

Further reading

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