ETAS: Terms of Service

V4 January 12, 2021

Emergency Temporary Access Service

Policy and Principles of Service

In developing and providing these services, HathiTrust has conducted its own analysis of public policy and copyright law. Our goal in providing this service is to help a library carry out its mission to support teaching and research during an unusual and extraordinary set of circumstances that are expected to be temporary. The service is designed on the following principles:

  • The service is based on a fair use analysis that requires us to strictly limit the mode of access, the universe of users, and to reduce or eliminate the potential for additional circulation of a copyrighted work.

  • The access is provided only for the institution’s patrons (not the whole world), via a secure login.

  • The access is largely contemporaneous with the quarantine/calamity/closure.

  • The access is provided only to works the patron would ordinarily have access to as a patron of that library.

  • The access is provided on a one-to-one basis—that is, if the library has three print copies of a work, only three patrons can access the title at a time.

  • Access is not automatic, and will be enabled only after there is an evaluation of the library’s circumstances.

Requirements and Service Guidelines

Services will be provided at HathiTrust’s sole discretion.  Before HathiTrust can implement Emergency Temporary Access Services for a given library, it must evaluate whether the Library qualifies, whether the institution can accurately identify its affiliates, and whether we have sufficient information about the Library’s collections.

Library & Collections Access Requirements

  • Library location: United States.

  • Type of library:  research library affiliated with an institution of higher education.

    • Non-university/college libraries may not initially qualify for access.  These will be reviewed case-by-case by the HathiTrust Executive Director.

  • Nature of disruption: A library has to suffer an unexpected or involuntary disruption to normal operations, requiring it to be closed to the public, or otherwise restrict collection access services, so that users cannot gain access to items in the collection as they ordinarily would.

    • HathiTrust’s initial implementation will be focused on library services during the COVID-19 emergency.

      • Temporary access will not be enabled if the services were disrupted due to foreseeable circumstances for which other arrangements could be made, e.g., cleaning, renovations, staff training days.

    • When the library is again providing access to its collections, they must notify HathiTrust and the service will no longer be provided.

  • Length of closure: The closure must be expected to last longer than 48 hours.

  • Access for non-US libraries may be obtained based upon an analysis of copyright law in those jurisdictions, and the submission of additional materials by the member.

Special situations

  • For multiple libraries on campus: The service is designed to support an organization when its library or library system cannot provide normal access to its collection.  If collection services are provided out of any branch or subject-focused library, HathiTrust may not be able to provide Emergency Temporary Access Services. We have no capacity to set different access policies based on locations in a library or library system.

  • University systems: some colleges and universities are HathiTrust members through a system membership, where there is a single legal authority governing the system and the collections are treated as general assets of all of the institutions in the system.  In general, if a university or college in the system qualifies for access to ETAS, then its users will qualify for access to those materials owned by the system that it would ordinarily be able to access.  Systems also present some special situations discussed below under User Authentication and Qualifying Works.

User authentication requirements

  • For universities and colleges, only Students, Staff, and Faculty will be provided with access. Alumni or other courtesy user groups do not qualify for temporary access.

  • These students, staff, and faculty must be authorized for HathiTrust access via member institution’s single sign-on and the passing of required attributes via a SAML 2.0-compliant identity provider in the usual way.  Multi-factor identification is not required for temporary access.

  • HathiTrust must verify the institutional affiliations that are passed to us by the institution’s authentication service before ETAS can be implemented.

    • During the authentication process the institution should pass values representing the user’s affiliation with the institution, e.g.,,,

    • Exceptions: During authentication, some institutions may currently pass a value of “member” to HathiTrust, rather than one that specifically identifies a student, faculty, or staff member of the institution.  In such cases HathiTrust will verify with the institution what universe of users are included under this value, and may request that the institution’s IdP make changes before implementing ETAS. These cases will be reviewed by the Director of Services and Operations and/or the Executive Director.

  • University System Members: Authentication is handled differently among HathiTrust’s system members.

    • In some cases, authentication is handled at the campus level allowing us to distinguish the institutional affiliation of different users and thus take action when one campus library is closed but others are not.

      • For example, a student at the University of California, Irvine can be distinguished from one at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

    • A small number of members use a system-wide authentication method, in which all users are identified only as affiliates of the system, not as employees or students of a specific school in the system.

      • If not all campuses in the system qualify for ETAS, before activating ETAS for these members, HathiTrust will review how access to the collection is being handled at the multiple campuses and evaluate whether ETAS services can be provided to the system within the limits of the policy.

Qualifying works

  • These works qualify for access under this policy:

    • Materials in HathiTrust that are normally marked “Limited View” (whether in-copyright or copyright-undetermined) that are also held by the library, as indicated by the print holdings data submitted last to HathiTrust through its normal print holdings submission process.

      Note: Member libraries also continue to have access to public domain and Creative Commons-licensed works.  These are marked “Full View” in the HathiTrust Digital Library interface.

  • These works do not qualify for access under this policy:

    • Materials in HathiTrust that are normally marked “Limited View” (in-copyright and copyright-undetermined works) where HathiTrust cannot establish a match between the library’s print collection and the HathiTrust Digital Library.

    • Works that have been closed to access by anyone under HathiTrust’s privacy policy.

  • University System Members: In university systems, collections are treated as a general asset of the entire system and all library users are entitled to access them. Our matching analysis is thus conducted for all items held by the system regardless of the item’s home location.  If a university or college in the system meets the conditions required for ETAS, then its users will qualify for access to those materials owned by the system that they would ordinarily be able to access.

Access Methods and Restrictions

  • Online reading access will be provided.

    • Users will have the option to display 2 pages, or thumbnail views of many pages, to assist them in navigating the book and find relevant pages, but will not have the option to download.

  • The number of concurrent users accessing a work is tied to the number of copies a library holds, e.g., 1 locally-held copy at an institution will allow only 1 user to access the digital work in HathiTrust for the checkout period, and 3 copies will permit 3 users.

    • These limits are enforced at the institutional level, e.g., there can be multiple concurrent users of the same item if they are affiliated with different qualifying institutions that also hold the work.

    • HathiTrust may reduce the number of concurrent users across an institution or across all members if necessary to support quality of service.

  • In some cases HathiTrust may not be able to establish exact or complete matches to items held, and access to those items will be impacted accordingly. This may be due to the quality, completeness or degree of standardization of the metadata available to HathiTrust and can be remediated over time by the institution(s) providing the metadata. User experience needs will be considered in setting the duration of a user’s access. However, the length of time that a user maintains exclusive access for a work will not be unlimited and will expire when the user ceases active use of the work. The duration of access will be set to ensure that a work can be made available to other readers within a reasonable time, and to ensure that the access does not serve as a substitute for a copy that would otherwise be purchased.

  • The duration of access will be consistent and uniform across all items and for all users.  It cannot be customized to specific titles, classes of works, members, or classes of users.

Terms of Service and Responsibilities


  • Emergency Temporary Access Services (ETAS) are governed by terms previously agreed to in the HathiTrust Supporting Institution Agreement.

  • ETAS is offered according to the policy, guidelines, and requirements described above.

  • ETAS is provided at HathiTrust’s sole discretion, and HathiTrust may choose to not offer or to end the service at any time for any reason.  In such a case HathiTrust will contact the library’s representatives as soon as possible to inform them of the decision and discuss whether it can be reversed.

  • ETAS will be provided as-is, and cannot be modified or customized to requests by specific libraries or end users.


  • HathiTrust will continually evaluate the service and may choose to expand, contract, or make improvements as resources allow.

  • HathiTrust will make reasonable efforts to provide technical support and respond to questions from users. However, responsiveness may vary with volume of inquiries and demand for the service.

Member Library

  • The library will identify a point of contact to assist HathiTrust in implementation, troubleshooting, and user support.  This person will also be responsible for engaging others in their library or local IT units to assist.

  • The library will provide information and data to HathiTrust about how the emergency is affecting operations and access to collections, the expected duration of the disruption, and other details that allow HathiTrust to confirm eligibility.

  • Once ETAS is activated, to respect the fair use basis for the provision of the items via ETAS, the library must avoid lending print items when a digital copy is available to its students, faculty, and staff via ETAS. Other titles in HathiTrust are not affected by this restriction.

  • Before the library resumes collections access, it will contact HathiTrust about the nature of the resumption, the timing, and any special circumstances relating to its plans.