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Help - HathiTrust US Federal Government Documents Program

How many US government documents are in HathiTrust?

The number of US government documents in HathiTrust changes quite frequently, as new items are contributed and existing items are determined to be US government documents. As of November 1, 2017, there are 875,268 US federal government documents in HathiTrust.

Who can access government documents in HathiTrust? Who can download?

All materials in HathiTrust, whether we have determined them to be in the public domain or not, are available for bibliographic and full-text search. US government documents that we have determined to be in the public domain are viewable by anyone, and, at a minimum, individual pages can be downloaded. A large number of US government documents are free of any restrictions and can be downloaded in their entirety. Many government documents are subject to third party restrictions placed by the digitizing entity and are only available to download by those affiliated with a HathiTrust member library. See http://www.hathitrust.org/help_digital_library#Download for more information.

Why are some government documents ‘Limited (search-only)’ while others are ‘Full View’?

There are several reasons why a US government document may be ‘Limited (search-only)’. They include:

  • The item contains a copyright statement.
  • The items (usually serials) were originally issued by government agencies, and then privatized. More recent issues will not be available for Full View.
  • The bibliographic record that was contributed along with the digitized item does not identify the item as a US federal government document (see bibliographic rights determination).

If you believe that an item is a US government document and should be opened for Full view, please contact HathiTrust via the Feedback link on the same page as the record, or by emailing feedback@issues.hathitrust.org.

Do libraries have to give up their physical copies of US government documents in order to have them scanned?

No. Libraries may engage in non-destructive scanning of US government documents, or what is known as destructive scanning, where the binding of volumes is cut so the individual sheets can be fed through a scanner. However, libraries that engage in destructive scanning send duplicate copies of materials for scanning, so that at least one print copy is retained. Libraries may deaccession US government documents from their collections, but when this is done, it is done through established disposition processes and channels. HathiTrust is not currently acting as a federal depository library.

Are state and/or local government documents in HathiTrust? Are they viewable?

Yes, many libraries have digitized and deposited state and local government documents. Because the rights status of these documents varies from state to state, there is variation in whether the materials can be viewed in HathiTrust. We have a targeted program currently to review the rights status of these documents.

What is the scope of content in HathiTrust? How comprehensive is the collection?

HathiTrust contains US government documents from a wide variety of agencies, with dates spanning 1790 to 2016. In order to better define the current content, and inform future needs, HathiTrust has embarked upon a project to create a Registry of US Government Documents.

The item I’m trying to view is missing pages/has blurred lines/etc. How can I report this?

Please click on the ‘Feedback’ link, found on the top of each page on our website, to report a problem, or email feedback@issues.hathitrust.org. Often, the problem can be corrected. For more information, please review the HathiTrust Policy on Quality.