Repository Increases Access to Public-Domain Collections


WSU Libraries has joined HathiTrust Digital Library, a partnership of major academic and research libraries working to preserve and provide access to the published record in digital form.

Membership potentially triples the size of WSU Libraries’ collections, said Dean Jay Starratt. The material available “provides a rich resource for researchers interested in computational access to the corpus of public domain works,” Starratt said.

“Through this partnership, we’re preserving a vast quantity of public works while making them available to more people,” said Joel Cummings, WSU Libraries’ head of collection development.

Searching, viewing, downloading

Launched in 2008, HathiTrust holds some 13.8 million volumes contributed by more than 100 partners, including 5.4 million volumes in the public domain. The collections represent documents published from before 1500 to 2009, encompassing some 1,360 languages.

HathiTrust ( allows large-scale, full-text search across all items in the repository, including public domain and copyrighted works. Services include viewing and downloading public domain volumes. Specialized features aid access by individuals with print disabilities and allow users to gather subsets of the digital library that can be searched and browsed.

Materials related to MASC holdings

Trevor Bond, head of WSU’s Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections, said the HathiTrust Digital Library is a useful supplement for WSU Libraries’ patrons seeking to understand MASC holdings.

For example, MASC’s Pacific Northwest Missionary Collection ( is a digitized collection of letters, diaries and personal writings belonging to notable missionary figures who served in the Pacific Northwest during the 19th century. Through the partnership with HathiTrust, scholars can access related religious and government documents that provide a rich context for that time.

“HathiTrust is also interested in the long-term preservation of these historic collections, unlike commercial vendors who try to monetize access to the collections,” Bond said.