If You Like Google Books – You will LOVE HathiTrust!


This may be old hat to expert professional genealogy researchers but it is a new discovery for me and that is the HathiTrust Digital Library. It combines the best of Google Books, the Internet Archive and others into one amazing research site.

It began in 2008 as a consortium of several universities and now many institutions are jumping on board. Better yet a quote from the HathiTrust.org website:

HathiTrust began in 2008 as a collaboration of the thirteen universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the University of California system, and the University of Virginia to establish a repository to archive and share their digitized collections. HathiTrust has quickly expanded to include additional partners and to provide those partners with an easy means to archive their digital content.”

The initial focus of the partnership has been on preserving and providing access to digitized book and journal content from the partner library collections. This includes both in copyright and public domain materials digitized by Google, the Internet Archive, and Microsoft, as well as through in-house initiatives. The partners aim to build a comprehensive archive of published literature from around the world and develop shared strategies for managing and developing their digital and print holdings in a collaborative way.

The primary community that HathiTrust serves are the members (faculty, students, and users) of its partners libraries, but the materials in HathiTrust are available to all to the extent permitted by law and contracts, providing the published record as a public good to users around the world.”

In late 2012, there were over 10,000,000 volumes available.

What are the benefits?  There were two things that stood out for me immediately:

  1. Whereas Google Books often provides just a snippet of information or no preview at all of the material found in a search; with HathiTrust – on several occasions I was able to get full view and a pdf of a single page was easily downloaded (depending on copyright restrictions of course).
  2. The website interface is outstanding. Incredibly easy to use with multiple viewing, zooming options etc.

Furthermore – their FAQ and Help sections are very thorough, explaining the “how to use” hints as well as what is available for download and in great detail.

Am I a HathiTrust proponent.  Unequivocally YES! And I am still discovering more.

Give it a try – HATHITRUST.ORG

Join the Conversation


  1. Whereas Google Books shows snippets for search of in-copyright books, HathiTrust shows how many hits of your search there are on each page but no snippets. The full page is only available on HathiTrust and on Google Books if a work is in the public domain.
    However, HathiTrust makes some works available fully as if in the public domain which Google Books does not. These include works of the US federal government and those works which the rightsholder has authorized HathiTrust to “open up”. Google hasn’t bothered with these cases.

  2. Kevin,
    Thank you so much for the amplification and detail. Most of my finds have been out-of-copyright in both venues, yet HathiTrust seems to be even more open for those.
    Thanks again – your comment is most helpful to readers.

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