HathiTrust and preservation

The thing that sets HathiTrust apart from Google Books and other large digital library projects is the fact that a key element of the project is a focus on the preservation of digitized information resources. This element of their mission is integral to their project as a whole. While other large-scale digital library projects are also concerned with providing widespread access to digitized materials, few make the aspect of preservation apparent in their stated missions (although some others certainly do, like the Internet Archive). In particular, Google Books makes no mention whatsoever of preservation on the history section of its website. It is the same case with Project Gutenberg. Alternatively, the HathiTrust makes multiple references to its preservation focus, both in the history section of its website as well as in its actual mission statement. As Heather Christenson stated in her article, “At the heart of HathiTrust is a shared secure digital repository owned and operated by a partnership of major research libraries. The repository is best known as a means of preserving digital materials created via large-scale digitization projects.” This is a great point – that the “heart” of the project is its preservation aspect. Christenson later states what may be the most important point: “Although Google and the Internet Archive both maintain and provide access to large amounts of data as a matter of course, neither organization is formally committed to digital preservation of digitized books over time.” Of course, it can be argued that all digital library projects are archival simply by their nature – but the point above in particular helps to articulate the fundamental difference between HathiTrust and other digital library projects.

As for the relationship between HathiTrust and DPLA, I think the two projects will compliment each other well. The fact that each one is geared towards certain users (public vs. academic) is a good thing. By focusing on the needs of different types of users, each collection can provide the most focused and therefore relevant resources to their patrons. It’s an exciting thought that future generations of users will have access to numerous types of digital collections over the course of their entire lives.

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6 responses to “HathiTrust and preservation

  1. Great post!! What did you (or anyone else reading) think of the research mission and center that the HathiTrust is developing?

    • Thanks! : )

      I think the center is a great idea – especially that it will be a “secure data environment” for researchers. This ensures that users will always have access (I feel like I keep bringing the concept of this up – sorry!). Glad to see my alma mater (IU) is taking such a big role in the center…

  2. so neat. Since 70% of works are copyrighted/inaccessible, HathiTrust is providing researchers access to these works under the HathiTrust umbrella seems almost too good to be true. However, I just finished watching the 5min YouTube video where HathiTrust Research Center Co-Director explains that when HathiTrust partners with a University Researcher, that while the researcher gains access to increased information and research that HathiTrust benefits because often the metadata becomes a higher quality (if the researcher chooses to update it).

  3. I agree with you on your point about the difference between DPLA and HathiTrust. With both of them being focused on different patrons needs, one academic and the other public,they can provide vast amounts of material that focus on their patrons needs. This was not a point that I had thought about while reading this weeks materials and I am glad you brought it up.

  4. It really does seem too good to be true. Much like the fight for “open access” in the world of research and academic journals, though, there is always an audience that won’t be included in the umbrella.

  5. I can’t help thinking that HathiTrust’s commitment to preservation is a direct result of the fact that the project has been created and maintained by libraries (and librarians).

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