The HathiTrust Digital Library, which is a consortium of libraries working to digitize and make available a wide variety of cultural documents, has recently won an important “Fair Use” victory in court. What HathiTrust is doing is now legally considered “transformative,” but for researchers, HathiTrust has already been very transformative.
HathiTrust has currently digitized over 10 million volumes of which less than half are in English. (See more HathiTrust statistics.) There are languages from Abkhazian to Zuni for the multilingual researcher to explore. Not all HathiTrust books, however, are available to everyone. Some books are not yet in the public domain, so they are only searchable and not fully readable.
To get started exploring the HathiTrust’s rich collection of resources, check out a few of their internationally-focused collections:
- University of Michigan’s Islamic Manuscripts Collection: Islamic records in Arabic dating from 1174.
- Europe on East Asia: Selection of full-text books on East Asia by European authors.
- Stanford PD Judaica: Hebrew and Yiddish PD book titles held by Stanford University
- Yiddish Poetry
- Greek Archaeology: Publications of archaeological sites, monuments, museums, travels, etc., in Greece
- Incunabula at Universidad Complutense, Madrid: A selection of 15th century printed books held at the Complutense University of Madrid
To search HathiTrust effectively, consider that there are two basic ways to search, catalog search and full-text search. The catalog search function searches the bibliographic record for the item, including title, author, language, date, and basic subjects. The full-text search searches inside the document for words. Both search functions allow you to limit to particular languages, and also to only full-text documents.
The search results for HathiTrust have faceted search on the side, like the University of Illinois’ own VuFind catalog, which allows searchers to refine their results further by subject, date, language, and so on.
For who want to “browse” the collection by call number, like at a physical library, books can be searched by Library of Congress Classification. For instance, those looking for books classified as “Home Economics” would search for “TX.”
The University of Illinois catalog also holds records and links to HathiTrust full-text books, so when you’re searching our catalogs you may notice them in your results.
But the best part about the HathiTrust Digital Library — if you belong to a HathiTrust partner institution (like the University of Illinois!) then you can download free PDF copies of full-text resources!
If you’ve been looking for a way to explore multi-lingual archival material without all of the dust and papercuts, HathiTrust is a great place to start exploring the emerging world of open-access digital archives.