SAA Books and HathiTrust

SAA Opens Access to Publications through HathiTrust

Paul Conway, University of Michigan 

In a happy example of the power of unanticipated consequences, the HathiTrust Digital Library has released a treasure trove of publications from the out-of-print catalog of the Society of American Archivists. The publications were digitized by Google in its various large-scale conversion partnerships with research universities. SAA authorized HathiTrust to release the publications under a Creative Commons license, making them freely and openly accessible in digital form.

About the HathiTrust

The HathiTrust Digital Library is a digital preservation repository launched in October 2008 by a group of U.S. research universities, including the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (the Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago) and the University of California system. HathiTrust is administered at the University of Michigan, but is supported by base funding from all 52 of its institutional partners. As of April 2011, HathiTrust consists only of digitized content: 8.4 million digitized books and serial volumes ingested from multiple digitization sources, primarily Google’s ongoing investment to digitize substantial portions of the bound collections housed in research libraries. HathiTrust also holds significant digitized book collections from the Internet Archive and growing collections of books digitized directly by member institutions. The HathiTrust gateway is available at:

The newly opened SAA publications are derived largely from the vast holdings of the libraries at the University of Michigan and the University of Wisconsin. Approximately 26 percent of the volumes in HathiTrust (2.2 million) are currently available for full view because they are in the public domain. Full view includes page images of each volume plus searchable full text of the entire contents. HathiTrust has established policies and procedures that enable the holders of copyrighted volumes to release their materials for full view and also to manage reproduction and use rights. The SAA Publication Board recommended applying a Creative Commons “Attribution Non-commercial Share-alike 3.0” license to its digitized publications in HathiTrust. This license lets others remix, tweak, and build upon SAA’s work non-commercially, as long as they credit SAA and license their new creations under the identical terms.

What SAA Titles are Available?

SAA has granted full-view permission for 82 out-of-print publications. The oldest item is August Robert Sueflow’s A Preliminary Guide to Church Record Repositories (1969). Highlights among the released publications include the original SAA Fundamental Series, important SAA planning reports (e.g., Planning for the Archival Profession, 1986; Image of Archivists, 1984; and Evaluation of Archival Institutions 1982), and Steve Hensen’s Archives, Personal Papers, and Manuscripts (1989). Also available now are three glossaries of archival terms spanning a 30-year-period (Evans 1973; Bellardo 1992; Pearce-Moses 2005). A 1996 reprint of T. R. Schellenberg’s archival classic Modern Archives: Principles and Techniques is also included in the release.

Beyond individual publications, the material available in HathiTrust includes a full run of the SAA Newsletter from 1979 to 1998 and a two-volume compilation index for the first 30 volumes of American Archivist. Volumes 1 through 62 (1938 to 1999) of the journal itself are fully viewable through the HathiTrust interface.

Searching for Content on the Site

HathiTrust is first and foremost a digital preservation repository, so search and discovery services are not yet as well-refined as we have come to expect in large-scale digital libraries. It is best to search for a specific publication by name or author rather than take a broader keyword strategy. Once you find an item, however, it is easy to bookmark it or cut a permanent URL into a document. The full-text of each SAA publication in HathiTrust is searchable. For example, keyword searching Frank Evans’ difficult to use Modern Archives and Manuscripts: A Select Bibliography (1975) is now an easy and effective way to discover foundational archival literature.

The full list of SAA publications in HathiTrust is available at;c=1406499934.

This fortuitous convergence of longstanding library acquisition processes, large-scale book digitization, and commitments to long-term preservation has materially improved access to an important body of archives literature. In the case of SAA’s publications, the real message is that enlightened intellectual property policy by both publisher (SAA) and distributor (HathiTrust) of out-of-print publications is the glue that binds digital preservation and online access.