The HathiTrust Digital Library is an example of History Web that is both open access and gated. This digital library is run by the HathiTrust Research Center, a center launched by Indiana University and the University of Illinois to address the needs of archival researchers in the digital age. The center’s digital library is essentially a collaborative repository of digital material culled from over 100 research libraries as well as the expansive digitized content of Google Books and Internet Archive.
Unlike “gated” History Web sites like ProQuest, which limits access to academic institutions and select members, HathiTrust expresses a commitment to open access. This is without a doubt its greatest strength as a History Web site. As of last year, HathiTrust comprised more than 13.7 million volumes, 5.3 million of which are public domain. In spite of the large amount of material under copyright restrictions, HathiTrust has full-text search across the entire collection. Thus researchers are able to locate and gather provenance information from all volumes even if they cannot read everything in its entirety. For example, if I search the digital library for information on the vocational education movement (the broad subject of my group’s digital exhibit project), I find that HathiTrust has 1,122,314 volumes pertaining to the subject, 265,840 of which are public domain. Importantly, HathiTrust still provides catelog information for material that I do not have permission to view online. Thus if I found something that would be useful for my research that is not accessible through the online repository, I can see what institution owns and digitized the material and visit their physical collections if needed. In this way, even the gated material on HathiTrust Digital Library is open access thanks to the site’s full-text search technology.
According the Cohen and Rosenzweig, authenticity and accurate provenance are two important elements that digital libraries most often lack. The HathiTrust Digital Library demonstrates both, making it a model example of this type of History Web site.