Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spotlight on the Collection: HathiTrust Digital Library

""But they have no brains!" someone is sure to say."

This is the first line in chapter IX "Inside the Brain of a Movie Star," from a book called Breaking into the Movies published in 1921. How can you read this entire book written by John Emerson and Anita Loos (author of the satirical short story collection Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady)? Through the HathiTrust of course.

The library has recently made available thousands of digitized books and journals in the public domain, which are accessed through the Library Catalog.

This collection is courtesy of HathiTrust. HathiTrust is a collaboration of the 13 universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the University of California system to establish a repository for these universities to archive and share their digitized collections. It now includes such partners as the University of Michigan Libraries, University of Chicago Libraries, and numerous others.

Subject coverage is vast; you’ll find books on the motion picture industry written in the 1920s as well as books on Iraq written in the 2000s.

Following is a sample list of titles:

Breaking into the Movies / John Emerson and Anita Loos (1921)
When the Movies Were Young / Mrs. D. W. Griffith (Linda Arvidson) (1925)
Motion pictures in Education; a practical handbook for users of visual aids / Don Carlos Ellis and Laura Thornborough (1923)
Shakespeare’s Wit and Humour / William A. Lawson. (1912)
Negro Poets and Their Poems / Robert Thomas Kerline (1935)

How Do You Access these Full-text Books?

In the Library Catalog, use the Guided Keyword search.
In the top search box, type hathitrust
In the middle box, type in your search terms, e.g.,

hathitrust [find all terms]
motion pictures [find this phrase]

  • You may also search the HathiTrust collection directly through its Catalog.
  • Printing is awkward and is only available page-by-page. This precludes downloading an entire book.
  • The FAQ page answers common questions about searching and viewing books.
  • There is significant overlap of volumes in HathiTrust and Google Book Search.
  • The Bailey/Howe Library owns many of these titles in print format.

The HathiTrust project is one example of making books available digitally; this project is a non-profit venture. There is a larger trend in academic libraries toward acquisition of commercially-published electronic books rather than print. If you would like to provide feedback or share your thoughts about the implications of this on your work as scholars, please let me know and I will pass along your comments to Peter Spitzform, Acquisitions Librarian.