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UC San Diego Librarian Brian Schottlaender Plays Leadership Role in HathiTrust,
Digital Library Collaboration Between Nation's Largest Academic Libraries

May 4, 2009

By Dolores Davies

Brian E.C. Schottlaender

Brian E. C. Schottlaender, The Audrey Geisel University Librarian at the University of California, San Diego, has been appointed to the Executive Committee of HathiTrust, a major collaboration of the nation’s largest academic libraries to create a vast digital repository.

HathiTrust was launched last October by the 11 University of California libraries and the 12-university consortium known as the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC). The collaboration, which will create a shared repository of the library members’ extensive digital collections, will include millions of books, including public domain materials which will be available for reading online. 

HathiTrust was named for the Hindi word for elephant, hathi, reflecting the enormous undertaking of congregating the collections of the nation’s top research libraries as well as the essential qualities of wisdom, memory, and strength evoked by elephants.   The elephantine size of the digitized holdings grows daily, with more than 2.8 million volumes, 104 terabytes, 33 miles, and 2,282 tons of materials digitized to date. The repository comprises digitized books, articles, and special collections, as well as a variety of “born digital” materials.

As a member of HathiTrust’ s Executive Committee, Schottlaender, along with the seven other members representing the founding institutions, is playing  an important role in guiding the project, focusing on a variety of issues ranging from finances to development priorities.  Other members of the executive management team include:  John Wilkin, Executive Director of HathiTrust and associate university librarian at University of Michigan; Laine Farley, Executive Director of UC’s California Digital Library; and representatives from the University of Michigan, Indiana University, and University of Illinois.

“The University of California Libraries and the UC San Diego Libraries are highly committed to HathiTrust and its mission to build, preserve, and provide shared access to these substantial digital collections,” said Schottlaender.  “I’m honored to be playing an important role, along with my colleagues from other institutions, in advancing the objectives and goals of HathiTrust.  This is truly a case of the whole being more than equal  to the sum of its parts.”

The UC and UC San Diego Libraries have a strong track record of embracing and implementing digital technologies to enhance access for scholars, students, and members of the public.  In spring 2008, the UC San Diego Libraries became the first library in Southern California to partner with Google in its global effort to digitize the collections of the world’s largest libraries. The University of California joined the effort in 2006, along with other prominent university libraries including the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford.  To date, more than 230,000 volumes have been digitized from UC San Diego Libraries’ collections. Over half of the digitized items have been volumes from the International Relations & Pacific Studies and Scripps Institution of Oceanography libraries, the latter being the largest oceanography library in the world.

HathiTrust Logo

While the Google project is enhancing public access to digitized books from UC San Diego and other institutional partners, HathiTrust is focusing on long-term data preservation to support and advance scholarship.  UC San Diego, along with other UC libraries, is also participating in a project to digitize public domain materials sponsored by the Internet Archive, currently totaling about 330,000 books.  UC will contribute all of its digitized books to HathiTrust, unifying content digitized by Google and the Internet Archive. The HathiTrust is also committed to including public domain content from non-Google partners.

“The founding institutions of HathiTrust are all partners with Google as well,” said Schottlaender.  “We are taking our digitized volumes from the Google project, as well as other materials we have digitized on our own, and pooling them together to create one huge digital archive.  The benefits to each of our institutions, and to our communities, are significant.”

According to Schottlaender, the UC San Diego Libraries, the UCSD-based San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), and the California Digital Library are also helping to guide HathiTrust on critical data preservation issues.  SDSC and the UCSD Libraries are founding partners in the Chronopolis initiative, a large-scale project involving the Library of Congress aimed at developing long-term digital data preservation best practices.

In order to provide persistent and accessible storage for deposited files, HathiTrust’s technology concentrates on creating a minimum of two synchronized versions of high-availability clustered storage with geographic separation, as well as an encrypted tape.

HathiTrust is committed to preserving the intellectual content (and in many cases the exact appearance and layout) of materials digitized for deposit and thus, stores and preserves metadata detailing the sequence of files for the digital object.  HathiTrust supports broadly-accepted preservation formats because they are documented, open, and standards-based, giving the repository an effective means to migrate its content to successive preservation formats over time, as necessary.  HathiTrust gives attention to data integrity (e.g., through checksum validation) as part of format choice and migration.

Schottlaender, who has served as UC San Diego’s University Librarian since 1999, has held numerous leadership positions in the library world over the last decade.  Last year, he was appointed Secretary of the Board of Directors of The Center for Research Libraries.  He served as President of the Association of Research Libraries during 2005-06.  Before joining UC San Diego, he held librarian positions at the California Digital Library, UCLA, University of Arizona, and Indiana University.

The UC San Diego Libraries, ranked among the top 25 public academic research libraries in the nation,  play an integral role in advancing and supporting the university’s research, teaching, patient care, and public service missions. The nine libraries that comprise the UCSD Library system provide access to more than 7 million digital and print volumes, journals, and multimedia materials to meet the knowledge demands of scholars, students, and members of the public.  Each day, more than 7,300 people stream through one of the university’s nine libraries. The Libraries’ vast resources and services are accessed more than 87,500 times each day via the UCSD Libraries’ Web site.

Media Contact: Dolores Davies, 858-534-0667 or dddavies@ucsd.edu

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