Available Indexes

U.S. Federal Documents Program Update, April 2018

Federal Documents within the HathiTrust Digital Library, as of March 1, 2018

  • 447,835 bibliographic records
  • 1,119,887 digital objects
  • 419,849 monographs
  • 27,599 serial titles

Additions to our collection

In the first three months of 2018, 20 different HathiTrust member libraries contributed a total of 7,660 documents. Especially large contributions came from University of California, Riverside (3,054), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1,954), and from the UC Southern Regional Library Facility (1,176). The oldest document ingested dates from 1838, and the latest was from 2014. A majority of documents were dated 1976-present (4,101), including this example, NASA's first A : aeronautics from 1958 to 2008 published in 2013 (contributed by UC San Diego). For more information on the federal documents collection, including monthly statistical views, please see the Collection Profile.

User needs investigation

We’ve begun a user needs investigation to learn more about users of HathiTrust’s federal documents. The investigation will follow a three-part plan: 1) an environmental scan, to gather data on potential user groups and review available usage statistics; 2) a user survey, to find out more about users of HathiTrust federal documents, their needs, and why they come to HathiTrust for access to federal government information; and 3) a user study, where users are observed as they attempt to perform specific tasks within the HathiTrust Digital Library.

The environmental scan has been completed, and this initial look at collection analytics revealed that items in the federal documents collection get a lot of use – almost 13.5 million page views in 2017. The most popular document of 2017 was  History of Wages in the United States, from Colonial Times to 1928 (contributed by UC Santa Cruz).  

The following are page view counts for federal documents in popular collections:

Clearly, the availability of digital federal documents in HathiTrust is providing value to users, but what we can learn more specifically about users of federal document, via analytics, is very limited. We expect that as we dig in deeper with a user survey and then a user study, we will gain a fuller picture.  The survey will be out in April -- please be on the lookout for the link.

Work to improve and expand our collection

Our federal documents “gap-filling” project, intended to test our ability to provide actionable data on items needed to fill gaps, and to test libraries’ ability to provide those volumes for digitization via existing workflows, will continue through June. We have already improved our success and skill in collection analysis and data provision, and our understanding of how the data we provide can be used in digitization projects. The project has been limited in scope to monographs, but we are currently testing whether we can accomplish a process for serials as well. As reported last quarter, we hope that this project will increase our knowledge and inform future strategies for identifying and filling in gaps in the whole HathiTrust collection.

We continue to work with the metadata management team to explore possibilities for improving the “best record” for a given federal document that is displayed to end users, resulting in more federal documents being identified and provided in full view.  We are currently testing a new process that may accomplish this goal.

The Federal Documents Program in print

As part of a special January 2018 issue of Against the Grain entitled Ensuring Access to Government Information, Program Officer Heather Christenson described the Program in her article: The HathiTrust Federal Documents Program: Towards a Digital U.S. Federal Documents Library at Scale.

As of this writing, forty-nine [HathiTrust] member libraries have contributed digitized federal documents to HathiTrust.  This total includes contributions from FDLP collections as well as documents from collections developed to meet needs and purposes outside of the FDLP.  The HathiTrust digital collection brings all these documents together in a large-scale aggregation of federal documents that reflects the scale and scope of FDLP collections, but also draws richness from the inclusion of topically-focused documents collections.”


Program Officer Heather Christenson and Analyst Valerie Glenn will be attending the American Library Association Annual Conference 2018, June 21-26, in New Orleans, LA.  We welcome the chance to meet with you and to share information.