Long-time readers of this blog (uh…are there any?) know that I’ve followed the doings of the Hathi Trust when they were still known as the University of Michigan and Friends. Why? Because I think it makes a great deal of sense to not rely on Google as our only means to access digitized books. For those of you keeping score at home, the Hathi Trust is a collaborative project of a group of universities to archive and share their digitized collections.
Information on what is available there has been gradually getting better. For a while all that was available were metadata downloads, which I had used last year to create a prototype bare-bones search interface. Then the Hathi Trust put up an experimental full-text search. Now they have just released a new catalog of the digital content in the Hathi Trust. Built using VUFind, the catalog sports a spiffy look and all the features expected of the latest search systems — faceted narrowing of search results, various sorting options, suggestions of similar items, cover art (or title page images of older works), etc.
There are presently about 2.8 million items represented, although only about 16% of the volumes are openly available to anyone. Thankfully, you can limit any search to "fullview" items; items under copyright are "search only" view.
It is "temporary" since the Hathi Trust recently entered into an agreement with OCLC (my employer) "to increase visibility of and access to items in the HathiTrust’s shared digital repository…by creating WorldCat records describing the content and linking to the collections via WorldCat.org and WorldCat Local." At least until OCLC can provide search access to this content as is presently provided by the Hathi Trust, the "temporary" catalog will be the main point of access to this content.