Imagine e-book utopia. Billions of books, nearly every significant work ever written, available electronically through an electronic library. Want to flip through some Faulkner? Click. Peruse Peruvian history? Click. Find the answer to the meaning of life and everything? It’s 42, and you can find that with a click or two too.
The HathiTrust is not that utopia, nor is Google Books. They could be, but the restrictions placed upon them in the name of copyright protection limits their use to that of a glorified catalog. The user inputs a search query and the HathiTrust digital library will tell them where to look, down to the book and page number. The user can then find the book in a library or purchase it elsewhere. The only exception is for print disabled individuals, who are granted full access to the library’s catalog.