DPLA and HathiTrust Partnership Supports Open E-Book Programs

April 21, 2015

By Dan Cohen and Mike Furlough

The Digital Public Library of America and HathiTrust have had a strong relationship since DPLA’s inception in 2013. As part of our ongoing collaboration to host and make digitized books widely available, we are now working to see how we can provide our services to exciting new initiatives that bring ebooks to everyone.

The Humanities Open Book grant program, a joint initiative of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is exactly the kind of program we wish to support, and we stand ready to do so.  Under this funding program, NEH and Mellon will award grants to publishers to identify select previously published books and acquire the appropriate rights to produce an open access e-book edition available under a Creative Commons license.  Participants in the program must deposit an EPUB version of the book in a trusted preservation service to ensure future access.

HathiTrust and DPLA together offer a preservation and access service solution for these re-released titles. Since 2013 public domain and open access titles in HathiTrust have been made available through the Digital Public Library of America. HathiTrust recently added its 5 millionth open e-book volumes to its collection, and as a result DPLA now includes over 2.3 million unique e-book titles digitized by HathiTrust’s partner institutions, providing readers with improved ability to find and read these works. Materials added to the HathiTrust collections are available through its full-text search, can be made available to users with print disabilities, and they become part of the corpus of materials available for computational research at the HathiTrust Research Center. By serving as a DPLA content hub, HathiTrust can ensure that open access e-books are immediately discoverable through DPLA.

Improving the e-book ecosystem is a major focus of DPLA’s and is an important theme at DPLAfest 2015 in Indianapolis. The Humanities Open Book program is just one example of current work to make previously published available again in open electronic form.  A parallel initiative from the Authors Alliance focuses on helping authors regain the rights to their works so that they can be released under more permissive licenses. Publishers are also exploring open access models for newly published scholarly books through programs such as the University of California Press’s Luminos. DPLA and HathiTrust applaud these efforts, and we hope that these initiatives can avoid becoming fragmented by being aggregated through community-focused platforms like DPLA and HathiTrust.

We are both very pleased that we can provide additional support for the fantastic work that NEH and Mellon are supporting through the Humanities Open Book Program. Publishers who are contemplating proposals to NEH may find that works are already digitized in HathiTrust, and may choose to open them as part of the grant planning process (see http://www.hathitrust.org/permissions_agreement). In the coming months we’ll be happy to advise potential applicants to this program, or any other rightsholder who would like to know more about the services of DPLA and HathiTrust.


Dan Cohen, dan@dp.la