Blog Post #2: HathiTrust Digital Library

HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital humanities tool that features digitized texts and collections of some of these texts put together by theme by academics and members of institutions that are partners with HathiTrust. Much like Google Books, from which HathiTrust has accumulated much of its book collection, HathiTrust acts as a virtual library through which one can search for and read many full-length books and documents, and read parts of/search for word occurrences in copyrighted texts. HathiTrust claims to have accumulated its texts from 80 partnerships, including Google and a large number of university libraries. The HathiTrust archive of books is hence quite large, and about as user-friendly as the Google Books layout.

The most interesting, unique, and useful feature of the HathiTrust Digital Library is its available collections of texts that center around a certain theme. For instance, one collection titled “Records of the American Colonies” includes 852 “published documents–legislation, court proceedings, records, correspondence, etc–from the 13 original colonies.” The collection was, as most are, put together or posted by a single person, in this case professor Nicholas Okrent at the University of Pennsylvania. Some of these collections are as broad as a collection of all books published by the University of Michigan Press, while others are as narrow as a collection of texts written by G.A. Henty.

The collections are a good example of the possibilities of our class’s final projects. For example, websites/blogs about a given book could include collections of important literary criticism concerning the book, as well as interesting publications of this book (HathiTrust features a publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland in Gregg Shorthand). HathiTrust even allows one to make an account and add such collections to the site, although it claims that one must “log in with your partner institution account.” As an overall resource, HathiTrust adds to the normal digital library’s inclusion of a large number of texts with its personal collections of documents, and thus offers something that, for instance, Google Books does not.

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