The University Libraries at Virginia Tech has joined the HathiTrust, a partnership of major academic and research libraries that are collaborating to build an extraordinary digital library initiative that preserves and provides access to the published record in digital form.

As HathiTrust members, Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff will have access to more than 3 million public domain books. The Virginia Tech community will be able to search HathiTrust’s catalog and download imprints in the public domain. Users can then create their own private libraries of these electronic imprints.

Also, because HathiTrust’s collections are digitized, special access is available for users who are blind or visually impaired.

The University Libraries will contribute original content to HathiTrust’s efforts as a sustaining partner.

“The HathiTrust is an exceptional resource for all researchers at Virginia Tech,” Matt Gabriele, associate professor of religion and culture, said. “Making such a vast collection of scholarship available will benefit research and demonstrate Virginia Tech’s commitment to its status as a top-tier research university in all disciplines.”

“Virginia Tech’s involvement in HathiTrust will be a boon for faculty and students alike,” Quinn Warnick, assistant professor of English, said. “Having access to the millions of volumes in the collection will simplify researchers’ archival work and will encourage students to dig deeper into historical records related to their studies.”

Launched in 2008, HathiTrust has more than 60 members and is growing. Over the last four years, the partners have contributed more than 10 million volumes to the digital library.

HathiTrust serves a dual role. First, it is a trusted repository. HathiTrust guarantees the long-term preservation of the materials it holds, and provides expert curation and consistent access long-associated with research libraries. Second, as a service for partners and a public good, HathiTrust offers persistent access to the digital collections. This access includes viewing, downloading, and searching capabilities to public domain volumes, as well as searching capability to volumes still restricted by copyright.

“The HathiTrust is a remarkable effort to preserve a vast amount of the world’s scholarly and research materials,” Tyler Walters, dean of libraries, said. “Duplicating about half of Virginia Tech Libraries’ print book titles, the HathiTrust’s partners and digital library become a shared, multi-institutional strategy to curate our collections of published scholarship while simultaneously rendering immediate, online and downloadable access to millions of publications in the public domain. Partnering with the HathiTrust fits our strategy of being a leading institution in the world of digital preservation while offering as much seamless access to research materials to the Virginia Tech community as possible.”

HathiTrust was named for the Hindi word for elephant, hathi, symbolic of the qualities of memory, wisdom, and strength evoked by elephants, as well as the huge undertaking of congregating the digital collections of libraries in the United States and beyond. HathiTrust is funded by the partner libraries and governed by members of the libraries through an Executive Committee and a Strategic Advisory Board. 

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