CARLI is the state-wide library consortium that provides maintenance and development of its integrated library management system, and the provision of meaningful electronic resources for 154 member libraries in Illinois. It recently announced the availability of over a million bibliographic records for the massive holdings of digitized content, controlled by an organization called the Hathi Trust (Hathi (pronounced hah-tee) is the Hindi word for elephant, an animal noted for its memory, wisdom, and strength—that’s the origin of the elephant on their logo. ) [ Announced in April 9, 2012 email ]
How did this this interestingly named organization come about ? The Hathi Trust is basically a huge digital library whose initial content came form the mass Google digitization of the print collections of thirteen universities of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the University of California system, and the University of Virginia.
At present it has the membership of 60+ libraries and 3 consortia. More recently the Trust has also added digitized book and journal content from the Internet Archive, as well as other local content digitized by partner institutions. The Trust is also exploring the possibility of also providing digital audio and image files (such as maps).
The basic aims of this organization are to preserve this content in perpetuity, to index and provide meta-data for it's holdings and to provide for access to it's collections for it's partner libraries and beyond. The availability of the records through CARLI is one example. However, the level of access does vary for different users.
Users affiliated with HathiTrust partner institutions are able to download full-PDFs of all public domain works, and works made available under Creative Commons licenses. These are the libraries formally affiliated with the Hathi Trust. For users in libraries not so affiliated, the degree of access is rather limited. Most, if not all, the original Google scanned materials are controlled by a third party agreement. Libraries' agreements with Google require Hathi Trust to take steps to prevent bulk download of materials they have digitized.
So for DePaul users and many other non-partner libraries, the access and download option, is one page at a time ! ( with the exception of materials that are not subject to the contract with Google or were provided under a Creative Commons Licence). Since huge collections of federal government documents were part of the mass digitizations projects undertaken by GOOGLE, these public domain materials, also fall under these restrictions.
GOOGLE claims that "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.". It seems more than a bit incongruous that it would enforce an agreement that makes scanned public domain materials, only available in a manner that effectively limits useful access. Unlike commercialy published works with copyright claims by authors and publishers, federal government information is generally in the public domain and should be provided without the encumbrances placed on commercially published works.
The availability of the Hathi Trust records through our own local library catalog, is a very useful tool for discoverying content that has been housed in some of our largest research libraries. But being able to conveniently read, copy and download public domain materials for research purposes, still eludes those users and libraries that are not in the club.