Understanding Hathitrust

At first glance the Hathitrust sounds a lot like other digitization projects such as the Google Books Project  and Internet Archive; take a look beneath the surface though is one of the areas where I feel it deviates from other projects. It is the Hathitrust/Google comparison that I was the most interested in since both have had lawsuits brought against them.

Google Books is a corporate entity and numerous academic institutions working together to digitize and make available a vast number of texts. Books are scanned and become searchable by google web searches. It has faced numerous copyright infringements attacks, though access to copyright protected books is limited.

Hathitrust is a co-owned collaborative of several research Libraries to digitize and preserve texts , that also draws content from Google Books and the Internet Archive, as well as organize them into a repository that is accessible for research purposes. As York discusses and breaks down in his article the Hathitrust is working to build a collection for the public good, is the research and knowledge of others; he also makes the point that research is changing as technology changes and the Hathitrust is one way to ensure that access to needed materials will be maintained.  Though it has monitored the legality of its digitization it too has been accused of copyright infringement, ending in its favor.

Where then does the niche lie for the Hathitrust? Being co-owned and managed by multiple research libraries I feel gives it a more library-esque focus overall. Even though the DPLA is going to go live soon I feel that the Hathitrust is more on the side of preservation with DPLA leaning a little more towards access. I also think that having duplicate copies of things is necessary among these repositories in the event that something happens to one of them, and also to ensure that there are no flaws in the scans. Perhaps Google Books scans a title and it is jumbled or assigned the wrong cover, while Hathitrust has the correct cover and cleaner edition. In the future more of these groups may merge but I in digital collaborative age I think we’ll see more swapping in the future.


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