Is more better?


The HathiTrust* partnership with Summon is about finding materials in new ways by taking advantage of technology. HathiTrust is a group formed by the 25 libraries participating in the Google Book Search and book digitization project. The HathiTrust/Summon partnership asks:  How can we get more information to more people to enable conversations and solve information problems?  The short answer is through  digitization and full text searching. Getting more information to more people is rooted in two aspects of  the the new norm:  If it isn’t online it isn’t accessible and library content access expectations have changed from days to hours to right now.  With Summon, currently used at Duke, library patrons will be able to easily search the HathiTrust collection.

“Preservation with access” is their tag line and with the Trust, they wish to create a collective space to meet a collective need. Its goal is to be, in essence, a comprehensive repository of published literature, plus access and preservation, primarily thru digitization. HathiTrust emphasizes long term preservation but not without access and sustainability. The scope of their holdings include 12 million digitized volumes in 2011 alone.  Of all of the digitized volumes in the HathiTrust, only 26% are in copyright and the rest is in the public domain.   Almost 50%  of the copyrighted content is material published since 1960. According to the Trust, most major research libraries will be able to find 45% of their content in HathiTrust’s collection by December 2011.


In partnership with HathiTrust, Summon increases user access to works in the public domain.  Summon is what is called a “discovery layer” that is in front of many different kinds of databases. Summon indexes the contents of databases and other resources so it can quickly return results from multiple collections at once. Though you may not realize it, Summon is the Articles search tab found on the Duke Library front page.  Summon is currently ingesting (yes, this is the technical term) HathiTrust’s index. Through Summon, a user’s query will be searched in databases, a local library’s catalog and  HathiTrust content, all at the same time.

The partnership hopes to launch this summer coinciding with the American Library Association’s annual meeting in New Orleans, June 2011.  However, not every library that has a Summon-powered discovery layer will necessarily search HathiTrust content.  A  library can choose the following options with regard to HathiTrust’s content: Opt to include all of the information HathiTrust offers, or opt to include just the public domain content on not include HathiTrust content in the results. When searching  using the Articles tab, patrons will be able to click a “Search beyond your library” link to access HathiTrust and other content.

Duke libraries  would  like to know what you think of the increased access to HathiTrust’s content that will be offered this summer.  Specifically, how much of Hathi’s content should appear in the Articles tab search results – all of it, just the public domain documents or just the ability to click through to the HathiTrust content?

*Hathi is pronounced either “hottie” or “hah-tee”.  Also, Hathi or Haathi means Elephant in Hindi.

3 thoughts on “Is more better?”

  1. I have found the HathiTrust site valuable in my dissertation research, as it has a good number of out of print books in my field which Duke doesn’t carry. I think it is also an advantage because I have found that many of these books from the period 1875-1925 are in poor condition, and I would prefer to use a digital copy rather than risk further damage to the volume itself. I also encourage Duke to partner more with HathiTrust–some items seem to only be searchable with a logon from a partner institution. Duke is not currently in their list, but luckily my undergrad logon still works for library access 🙂 I would have to say though, it is rather infuriating to see something listed in the catalog that I don’t have access to. It’s a tantalizing carrot dangling in front of me, out of reach–and I love carrots.

  2. Daniel,
    It will be a lot easier when you can search Hathi through Summon starting this summer. The majority of the content is in the public domain and that material is currently searchable through Google Book*.

    One great thing that indexed Hathi content will offer Duke users is a click-through to Document Delivery so that when you run across those gems that Duke doesn’t have, you can easily request it. If you search Hathi here you are offered a “find in a library” link which is really this key to accessing those copyrighted items that aren’t in the public domain, but Hathi gets that info from WorldCat, so I question why one would not search WorldCat from the start.

    Your comment is really appreciated and gives us a lot to think about. Thanks!


  3. I’m glad you find HathiTrust useful. I just want to understand what you mean by “some items seem to only be searchable with a logon from a partner institution.” Anyone can search any item or public collection, and no one — even HathiTrust partners — may view in-copyright works, even with a login.

    I’ve found even the search-only titles useful; by seeing how frequently my search terms appear, I can decide whether I want to try to ILL copies of books our library does not own.

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