Our Mission & History
A storied past. A promising future.
The early days of mass digitization led the 12 universities in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (now known as the Big Ten Academic Alliance) and the 11 libraries of the University of California to form a partnership in 2008. This collaboration was founded to ensure that those digitized collections — and the libraries that steward them — remain strong and serve scholarship into the future. Our reach now includes members outside of the United States. Over 18 million digitized library items are currently available, and our mission to expand the collective record of human knowledge is always evolving.
The mission of HathiTrust is to contribute to research, scholarship, and the common good by collaboratively collecting, organizing, preserving, communicating, and sharing the record of human knowledge.
HathiTrust will be a vital catalyst for emerging forms of research, teaching, and learning that engage the scholarly and cultural record.
- To build a reliable and increasingly comprehensive co-owned and co-managed digital library of archived materials converted from the print collections of the member institutions.
- To dramatically improve access to these materials in ways that, first and foremost, meet the needs of the co-owning institutions, with a particular emphasis on ensuring access for individuals with print disabilities.
- To develop cost-effective and robust infrastructure for digitized books and digital content of value to scholars and researchers, including a variety of formats and born-digital materials.
- To develop partnerships and services that ensure preservation of the materials in the HathiTrust Digital Library and the entire print and digital scholarly record.
- To reduce long-term capital and operating costs of storage and care of print collections through redoubled efforts to coordinate shared storage strategies among libraries.
- To build infrastructure that facilitates cost-effective and productive collaborations among partnering institutions to reduce the cost of securing campus intellectual assets.
- To define and make available a set of services that supports research using the HathiTrust corpus.
- To create a technical framework that allows for both central and distributed creation of tools and services.
- To sustain the HathiTrust enterprise as a “public good” while at the same time defining a set of services that benefits member institutions.
In consultation with our members, we regularly reflect upon and establish 5-year objectives, most recently in 2019. We are now poised to draw on the strength of our accomplishments and prepare to serve the future needs of our membership. To do so, we are launching an in-depth process of exploration, discovery, and strategic visioning, to begin our next 15 years.
Statement of Values.*
We base all of our work on the following values. Libraries who support HathiTrust should do so with full awareness of our mission, vision, and values.
Trust is paramount, the basis of the preservation and stewardship mission we undertake on behalf of our community. We build trust through transparency, accountability, and consistent high-level execution of HathiTrust’s mission.
Access to knowledge and open inquiry are necessary for just societies and for the creation of new scholarship and research. We use our position to promote the broadest possible access to the scholarly and cultural record today and into the future.
Equity, diversity, and inclusion promote justice, create communities that thrive, and advance collective knowledge and understanding. HathiTrust takes action to comprehend and address these inequities in our collections, services, programs, and organization.
Resilience, created through interdependent work, provides HathiTrust and the library community as a whole with flexibility and strength to address challenging opportunities in a changing system. HathiTrust develops this collective strength through our programs and services.
Constructive, meaningful engagement allows HathiTrust to benefit from the collective expertise of our colleagues, member staff, and users of HathiTrust. We foster inclusive environments that value diverse perspectives, create learning opportunities, and promote meaningful conversations.
Leadership that embodies both conviction and humility allows us to learn from the communities that constitute HathiTrust. Our actions have a broad impact and we use our position to promote necessary changes in the broader disciplinary, scholarly, and social communities in which we live and work.
*Approved by Members and the Board of Governors in June 2021