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HathiTrust: Hathi Trust v. Other Digital Libraries

Google Books

Google Books

Fitting in with Google’s overarching mission “to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful” (, Google Books is a large scale digitization project that includes current material that publishers have agreed to supply as well as older content held by major research libraries in the United States that has been digitized by Google. Google was sued by publishers in a high profile case.   Google Book Settlement  found in favor of the digitization project being legal, under the "fair use" provisions of U.S. copyright law. 

Open Library

Open Library

A subsidiary of the Internet Archive, the goal of Open Library “is to list every book -- whether in-print or out-of-print, available at a bookstore or a library, scanned or typed in as text.” (  While Open Library does have access to public domain books via the Internet Archive, their primary goal is to serve as a catalog, with a secondary goal of getting the user to the text – either through scanned books or from bookstores.

Difference Between Google Books and HathiTrust

There is obviously an overlap of full text content among Google Books, Open Library, and HathiTrust, since the HathiTrust founding partners participated in the Google Books Project or the Internet Archive digitization initiatives.  However, beyond HathiTrust’s fundamental goal to preserve the human record, there are other differences between HathiTrust and Google Books:

  • The content in HathiTrust is more scholarly because of its focus on content from research libraries;
  • HathiTrust provides frequent updates and statistics regarding its content; (
  • The HathiTrust metadata is rich and structured;
  • The HathiTrust search interface is more sophisticated and comprehensive, making use of facets which can be used to refine search results quickly, including limiting searches to public domain content (“Full View” search);
  • Because of the various approaches they are taking with copyright, more HathiTrust content is identified as public domain and fully viewable;
  • Users can create collections of materials in HathiTrust that can be separately searched; 
  • HathiTrust partners are providing locally digitized materials and/or content that may have been part of other digitization initiatives – content that is not included in Google Books or Open Library;
  • HathiTrust has developed an interface optimized for the needs of users with print disabilities;
  • HathiTrust has developed APIs and other techniques for providing access to HathiTrust records in local library catalogs;
  • Some library vendors are working to integrate their online resources with HathiTrust; for example HW Wilson links to HathiTrust public domain content from:  Book Review Digest Retrospective, Essay & General Literature Index, and Short Story Index Retrospective;
  • When searching “inside a book” still protected by copyright, HathiTrust will display a list of all of the occurrences of those words or phrases in that text, although it won’t display any snippets.

World Digital Library (Archived project @ Library of Congress)

World Digital Library

The World Digital Library “makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world, with principal objectives that include: promoting  international and intercultural understanding; expanding the volume and variety of cultural content on the Internet; providing resources for educators, scholars, and general audiences; and building capacity in partner institutions to narrow the digital divide within and between countries.