CARLI & HathiTrust

What is HathiTrust?

As explained on the HathiTrust Digital Library’s main page, the “HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository and highly functional access platform. It provides long-term preservation and access services for public domain and in copyright content from a variety of sources, including Google, the Internet Archive, Microsoft, and in-house partner institution initiatives.”

In the 2008 press release about the launching of the HathiTrust, the Executive Director of the HathiTrust, John Wilkin states, “This effort combines the expertise and resources of some of the nation’s foremost research libraries and holds even greater promise as it seeks to grow beyond the initial partners.” The press release goes on to explain that, “Hathi (pronounced hah-tee), the Hindi word for elephant incorporated into the repository’s name, underscores the immensity of this undertaking.”

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CARLI has introduced access to the public domain, electronic full-text materials in the HathiTrust collection via the I-Share union catalog. Member libraries can consider whether to incorporate the same HathiTrust records into default searches of their local catalogs as well. This section provides information to help with these decisions.

Useful Links

I-Share OPAC team VuFind, HathiTrust & Public Domain E-Resources Webinar recording.
View this webinar to learn:

  • What is HathiTrust?
  • What can your library currently do with these records?
  • What are the implications for small and large libraries?
  • What are the issues for mobile device users?
  • What are your options for providing access (or not) to 1.2 million freely available electronic documents via your local catalog?

HathiTrust Digital Library help:
Provides those in public services with answers to questions that patrons may have about access to HathiTrust digital library resources.

In April of 2012, CARLI loaded 1.2 million bibliographic records for public domain, copyright free, electronic full-text items available in the HathiTrust Digital Library into its Voyager “Resource” database (RESdb), with attached holdings to indicate the “HathiTrust” location. Loading the data into the RESdb keeps HathiTrust bibliographic data separate from the I-Share Universal Catalog (UCdb) and from each individual institution’s local database (XXXdb), yet allows users to toggle between inclusion/exclusion of these records in their VuFind 0.6 searches.

In May of 2017, CARLI loaded the HathiTrust Collection from OCLC’s Knowledge Base, titled “Public Domain only in US Access”, into a separate location from the 2012 set in RESdb. The 2017 record set is updated weekly with adds, updates, and deletes. These latest records are made available only through the New VuFind public catalog, while the 2012 set continues to be made available only in VuFind 0.6.

Other records currently stored in CARLI’s RESdb include: records loaded in support of the YBP print patron-driven acquisitions project, CARLI ebooks purchased through a patron-driven acquisitions project with EBL, Open Textbook Library records, and records selected through the Open Access eBooks pilot project. These records are distinguishable by their location facets on the New VuFind or VuFind 0.6 Results Page.

CARLI modified the I-Share Catalog so that it would search both the UCdb and the RESdb simultaneously, by default. Users of the I-Share union catalog see HathiTrust search results intermingled, as if those records were actually stored in the union catalog database. Users are able to filter the results in the same ways they filter any union catalog search results. Note, that the I-Share Catalog in VuFind 0.6 searches only the 1.2 million Hathi Trust record set loaded in 2012. The I-Share Catalog in New VuFind searches only the current Hathi Trust records from OCLC’s Knowledge Base collection titled Public Domain only in US Access.

A control has been added to the VuFind 0.6 Advanced Search page to allow users to select whether to search both the Resource database’s records and I-Share libraries’ records (RESdb & UCdb), search the Resource database’s records only (RESdb), or search I-Share libraries’ records only (UCdb). For now, the Advanced Search control describes the Resource database as “HathiTrust eResources,” since those are currently the only records in that database that are exposed through the VuFind interface.

In New VuFind, the feature to “Exclude HathiTrust eResources (public domain)” records is available on the Advanced Search page and in the Narrow Search facets on all search results pages.

In response to requests from I-Share member libraries, it is possible for libraries to change the default behavior of their VuFind local catalogs to include HathiTrust search results intermingled with local catalog search results. Libraries may also choose to not include HathiTrust search results as the default.


If a CARLI I-Share library does not opt in to the new RESdb-searching functionality, the default search of the local catalog will not include HathiTrust records.

A patron at such an I-Share library may still access the HathiTrust records two ways when searching VuFind 0.6:
1. By searching in the I-Share union catalog (where UCdb and RESdb are searched simultaneously by default).
2. Via the control on the VuFind local catalog’s Advanced Search page.

Screenshot of the HathiTrust limit in the VuFind OPAC Advanced Search.

 This feature is not available on the Advanced Search page in New VuFind.

Default Search: Include HathiTrust results in local catalog

A CARLI I-Share library may opt in to have the HathiTrust (RESdb) records included within their local catalog search results by default. To take advantage of this option, libraries need to complete section 18 of the VuFind Customization Form. For New VuFind, all libraries that had already opted in for VuFind 0.6 were also opted in for New VuFind.

The library’s decision to include HathiTrust records as part of the default local catalog search can be reversed at any time by resubmitting the VuFind 0.6 Customization Form. To change this decision in New VuFind, please send a note to .

Considerations before opting in to include HathiTrust results in local catalog:

Before deciding whether to opt in to include HathiTrust results in your default search, try sample searches in your local VuFind 0.6 catalog using the control on the Advanced Search page. Many libraries have found that adding HathiTrust records to retrieval sets greatly enhances the amount of relevant information available to their patrons. Many other libraries have found that including HathiTrust records as part of the default search results can overwhelm their local records inappropriately. Before deciding, also read the following information about your library’s Location Limit options.

HathiTrust records are not searchable in the WebVoyage OPAC. Libraries that want to minimize the differences between users’ experiences in the various catalog interfaces will want to bear this in mind.

Location Limit Options:

After a library sets their local catalog to include HathiTrust records in the default search, catalog users can still have opportunities to exclude these records from their search results.

  1. Advanced Search feature in VuFind 0.6: Users can override their local catalog’s default setting by excluding HathiTrust eResources on the Advanced Search page of their local VuFind 0.6 and New VuFind catalogs.
  2. Location Limit available in VuFind 0.6 with Library set-up: When a retrieval set contains HathiTrust bibliographic records, the HathiTrust location facet will appear on the VuFind Results page. Users who select that facet will reduce their retrieval set to HathiTrust records.
    To offer a complementary location facet for showing local library records only, libraries can define an all-local-locations Location Limit Group. See "Location Facets in VuFind Local Catalogs" for more information.
  3.  “Exclude HathiTrust eResources (public domain)” facet in New VuFind: This option is available in the Narrow Search list on the right-hand side of every search results page.  Users can click to Exclude HathiTrust records from the results and a check mark will appear by the filter; click again to remove the option and the check mark will disappear.

Building customized OPAC search boxes for your website:

You can build custom OPAC search boxes for your website that provide patrons with the option to include/exclude HathiTrust resources from their search results in VuFind 0.6. (Note: This search box builder does not yet work for New Vufind.) To do so:

  1. Visit the OPAC Search Box Builder
  2. Choose to generate a “VuFind” search box.
  3. Customize the form with the information you desire, then click “Generate” at the bottom.
  4. Copy/paste the code into the proper location on your website.

Feel free to create multiple sample boxes to test the functionality.

HathiTrust News Blog

"An Elephant backs up Google’s Library" by Miguel Helft, New York Times, Bits Blog

"Google Scanning is Fair Use Says Judge" by Andrew Albanese, Publisher’s Weekly

Did you find a great HathiTrust news story? to have the link included on this page!