Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Using HathiTrust to Locate Government Information


Hathitrust is a digital repository of over 11 million volumes from 90 partner libraries that is full-text searchable. “Hathi” (pronounced hah-tee) is the Hindi word for elephant, symbolizing memory, wisdom, and strength.

Out of the 11 volumes,  over 500,000 are United States government documents. Over half of these government documents have been viewed at least once since 2010.

Hathitrust has a government documents planning and advisory group whose goal is to expand and enhance access to government documents.

Cool features of Hathitrust::

  • Allows access to old government documents that are fragile and need to be preserved - now they can “circulate” on the Internet.
  • Can use during government shutdowns or any time government web sites are unavailable.
  • Patrons can search for themselves.
  • Can find references within a document without searching the whole text.
  • Can read on mobile devices.
  • Accessible to the visually impaired and those with learning disabilities.
  • Patrons don’t have to understand SUDOC numbers.
  • More government documents available than an individual library can offer.
  • Improved metadata making for more and better ILL requests. Some documents were not cataloged until they were entered into Hathitrust.
  • With the addition of an Espresso Book Machine, partner libraries can offer print on demand.

Hathitrust can be searched either as a library catalog, or as full-text. If you want to limit to public domain items only, check the “full view only” box.

if you find issues with a documents scan or bibliographic record (or it should be public domain, but isn't),  you can give feedback. There is an easy-to-fill-out form, and Hathitrust usually responds in a day or two.

Even non-partner libraries can use Hathitrust to build their government document collections. After creating a University of Michigan friend account, anyone can create a collection of documents on a particular topic. Hathitrust documents can be embedded on a web page and there is a search box widget that libraries could add to their government documents page to offer patrons more access to government documents with no cataloging required.

Currently, downloading is not available  with a guest account, even for public domain items. Downloading is allowed in the building of a partner institution, such as the University of Minnesota.

There is overlap with Google books, but also different items. Unlike Hathitrust, Google makes everything post-1923 unavailable as full-text, even government documents, which are all public domain by law.

Hathitrust content is available in the Digital Public Library of America.

What’s next for Hathitrust?

Presentation slides are available here.

--Andrea @Central

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