Google Library Partners Making Their Own Database

    October 14, 2008
    Chris Crum

A group of libraries that are participating in the Google Books Library Project want to make sure that their work lives on in case Google doesn’t. They’re forming a backup database of digitized books in case Google should go out of business in the future (insert joke or snide comment here). The database is called HathiTrust.


It makes sense to some extent though. This is the library we’re talking about. Library information shouldn’t have to rely on a corporation, and the group seems to have nothing but respect for Google. They’re just trying to cover their bases. Backup is never a bad thing.

"Google is an excellent partner,” Bits quotes Paul Courant, university librarian and dean of libraries at the University of Michigan. "They are a corporation with a responsibility to its stockholders. Google could last 50 years, 100 years, 1000 years. We are academic institutions with a commitment to the preservation and use of scholarship and the scholarship record for the indefinite future."

Besides, they’re going to have things that Google doesn’t as well. Materials digitized through other means will also be made available through HathiTrust, they said in a press release. So far HathiTrust contains 2 million volumes and approximately 3/4 of a billion pages, about 16 percent of which are in the public domain. You can’t view this stuff yet though. A blurb on the HathiTrust site goes:

Where’s the search interface to all of the content in HathiTrust? There is currently no single global interface to the body of content in HathiTrust repository.

Be assured we are working with our partners to accomplish this—a way that takes into account the large number of different sources of metadata and the different strategies each of the partners has for managing that information.

I assume Google is one of these partners, but to be clear, this project is separate from Google. That’s the whole point, so it will be interesting to see if Google ends up providing the search technology for the database. While there are 25 libraries participating in the project so far, they are hoping to get the rest of those involved with the Google Books Library Project on board as well. Current partners are as follows:

HathiTrust Partners