HathiTrust Digital Library is a large-scale collaborative repository of digital content from research libraries including content digitized via the Google Books project and Internet Archive digitization initiatives, as well as content digitized locally by libraries.

Type of site
Digital library
OwnerUniversity consortium
RevenueUS$3,777,445 (2019 projections for proposal)[1]
Alexa rank 26,827 (October 2018)[2]
LaunchedOctober 2008
Current statusUpheld by courts[4]
Content license
Public domain (with restrictions on Google scans), various[5]
Written inPerl, Java[3]


HathiTrust was founded in October 2008 by the twelve universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation and the eleven libraries of the University of California.[6] The partnership includes over 60 research libraries[7] across the United States, Canada, and Europe, and is based on a shared governance structure. Costs are shared by the participating libraries and library consortia.[8] The repository is administered by the University of Michigan.[9] The Executive Director of HathiTrust is Mike Furlough.[10]

In September 2011, the Authors Guild sued HathiTrust (Authors Guild, Inc. v. HathiTrust), alleging massive copyright violation.[11] A federal court ruled against the Authors Guild in October 2012, finding that HathiTrust's use of books scanned by Google was fair use under US law.[12] The court's opinion relied on the transformativeness doctrine of federal copyright law, holding that the Trust had transformed the copyrighted works without infringing on the copyright holders' rights. That decision was largely affirmed by the Second Circuit on June 10, 2014, which found that providing search and accessibility for the visually impaired were grounds to consider the service transformative and fair use, and remanded to the lower court to reconsider whether the plaintiffs had standing to sue regarding HathiTrust's library preservation copies.[13]

In October 2015, HathiTrust comprised over 13.7 million volumes, including 5.3 million of which were in the public domain in the United States. HathiTrust provides a number of discovery and access services, notably, full-text search across the entire repository. In 2016 over 6.17 million users located in the United States and in 236 other nations used Hathitrust in 10.92 million sessions.[14]

As of 2019, the copyright policy states that "many works in our collection are protected by copyright law, so we cannot ordinarily publicly display large portions of those protected works unless we have permission from the copyright holder", and thus "if we cannot determine the copyright or permission status of a work, we restrict access to that work until we can establish its status. Because of differences in international copyright laws, access is also restricted for users outside the United States to works published outside the United States after and including 1879."[15]


PageTurner is the web application on the HathiTrust website for viewing publications.[16] From PageTurner readers can navigate through a publication, download a PDF version of it, and view pages in different ways, such as one page at a time, scrolling, flipping, or thumbnail views.[16][17]


Hathi, pronounced "hah-tee", is the Hindi word for "elephant", an animal famed for its long-term memory.[18]


  1. "2018 Member Meeting" (PDF). hathitrust.org. October 2018. p. 56. Slides in PDF.
  2. "Hathitrust.org Traffic, Demographics and Competitors". Alexa. Retrieved 9 October 2018.
  3. "Technological Profile". hathitrust.org. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  4. "HathiTrust Statement on Authors Guild v. Google" (Press release). HathiTrust. October 16, 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  5. "Access and Use Policies". hathitrust.org. Retrieved 12 May 2016.
  6. Karels, Liene (November 2010). "HathiTrust adds new members, goes global". umich.edu. Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  7. "HathiTrust Partnership Community". hathitrust.org. Retrieved 28 August 2015.
  8. "Cost". hathitrust.org. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  9. "Governance". hathitrust.org. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  10. "HathiTrust Staff". hathitrust.org. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  11. Bosman (September 12, 2011). "Lawsuit Seeks the Removal of a Digital Book Collection". New York Times. Retrieved November 1, 2012.
  12. Albanese, Andrew (11 October 2012). "Google Scanning Is Fair Use Says Judge". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 11 October 2012.
  13. Authors Guild v. HathiTrust, (2d Cir. June 10, 2014).
  14. Zaytsev, Angelina (February 2017). "14 Million Books & 6 Million Visitors: HathiTrust Growth and Usage in 2016" (PDF). hathitrust.org. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  15. "Trust copyright policy - restrictions on access". Archived from the original on July 26, 2011.
  16. Meltzer, Ellen (May 9, 2011). "Viewing HathiTrust books just got better". cdlib.org. California Digital Library. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  17. "HathiTrust User's Guide" (PDF). hathitrust.org. May 2012. p. 8. Retrieved 2019-06-21.
  18. "Launch of HathiTrust: Major Library Partners Launch HathiTrust Shared Digital Repository" (Press release). HathiTrust. October 13, 2008. Retrieved 2019-06-21.

Further reading

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