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How to Join

Academic and research libraries founded HathiTrust in 2008 to cooperatively advance the collective mission of academic and research libraries and to enrich the common good of its members. Today, HathiTrust members serve more than 200 campuses and enable a global community of curious minds to engage the scholarly record. 

To become a member of HathiTrust, review the eligibility criteria and complete the steps below. See HathiTrust Features and Benefits for details on HathiTrust membership.

  1. Eligibility
  2. Gather Support and Information
  3. Initiate Membership
  4. Annual Fees


Eligible for Membership

HathiTrust currently accepts members from each of these three categories:

  • Academic and research libraries (government and specialized institutions may be considered)

  • University systems of libraries

  • Consortia of libraries

We welcome membership inquiries from non-profit, non-U.S. research libraries to review on a case-by-case basis.  

NOT Eligible for Membership

HathiTrust does not consider memberships from:

  • Libraries associated with for-profit organizations

  • Public libraries without a clear research mission

  • Public or private K-12 or secondary school libraries

  • Non-libraries, including publishers

Review more detailed Eligibility requirements. 

View a list of current HathiTrust members.

Gather Support and Information 

These early steps will simplify and expedite completion of your final application. 

  1. Review the eligibility and membership requirements listed on this page, as well as the joining process and annual fee information.

  2. Obtain leadership-level support for HathiTrust membership. This could be your library dean, faculty department chairs, or provost. 

  3. Find out if your institution belongs to an accepted identity federation and currently uses a SAML 2.0-based authentication service, such as Shibboleth or Open Athens to identify an individual's affiliation to your library. Contacting your local or central IT liaison is a typical action.

  4. Complete the Membership Intake Form: HathiTrust Membership Intake Form A HathiTrust team member will review your request and contact you within one week to answer questions and discuss next steps
  5. Set up a call with HathiTrust staff to ask questions about benefits or the joining process, and identify roles and responsibilities. Invite interested parties from your library to participate. This may smooth your path to membership by getting questions answered and processes established upfront. Submit a request to support@hathitrust.org.

Initiate Membership

To join HathiTrust, complete these steps. The timeline for a library to join HathiTrust depends widely by libraries. The average time in 2019 for libraries to complete their membership was 1-3 months.

  1. Complete the Membership Intake Form (if you have not done so already): HathiTrust Membership Intake Form. A HathiTrust team member will contact you to answer your questions and inform you of next steps.
  2. Submit Print Holdings Data to HathiTrust: Libraries submit two different files at different points in the process. Prior to joining, libraries submit holdings data on physical collections, which we use to develop an estimate of potential annual fees.  To initiate formal membership, libraries then submit more complete data on print holdings to facilitate HathiTrust service access. Thereafter, libraries submit print holdings every 2-3 years.

  3. Sign a Legal Contract:  Obtain the signature of the person with the legal standing to enter into a Supporting Libraries/Membership Agreement with the University of Michigan on behalf of HathiTrust.

  4. Provide authentication of your affiliate users: The log-in method authenticates, or proves, an individual's affiliation to your library. As a service provider in the InCommon Federation, HathiTrust accepts member authentication to its services via Shibboleth, Open Athens, or other SAML 2.0 system from member institutions with membership in the InCommon Federation.

  5. Submit Annual Fees: Pay annual fees to sustain HathiTrust infrastructure and services, based on fee model below. Libraries that join mid-year will have pro-rated fees. Members are not invoiced until all joining steps above are complete. 

  6. Assign Library Contacts: Provide dedicated contacts to assist in cooperative operations of HathiTrust.  Libraries must identify a Primary Contact and Member Representative, while other roles are optional. and additional contacts are helpful in maintaining specific collaborative services.

Annual Fees 

HathiTrust’s members share the costs of operating our services and programs.   Our annual budget funds preservation and access services, HathiTrust Research Center text and data mining services, copyright review, user support, collaborative programs such as US Federal Documents Program and Shared Print Program, collective advocacy, administration, and future strategic and infrastructure investments. HathiTrust members vote to approve the total budget each year before it goes into effect. 

HathiTrust’s cost allocation model is designed to equitably share costs across the membership, while also accounting for the variable benefit received by individual libraries, which depends upon the number of copyrighted items held by their library as well as in HathiTrust. 

Inputs to Annual Fee Calculation

  • Tier Assignment: Each member library is assigned to one of three tiers based on the member's Total Library Expenditures as reported in public sources, such as the Integrated Postsecondary Data System (IPEDS) in the United States, the Statistical Survey of Canadian Academic and Research Libraries (CARL) in Canada, and the Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL) statistics in Australia and New Zealand.  Tier placement affects only the annual public domain fee assessed to a member. 

  • Public Domain and Copyrighted Items: We include two elements in each member’s total annual fees.  Each member pays a share of the cost of maintaining all the public domain materials in our collection (a “common good” portion) and a fee based on the overlap between the member’s copyrighted holdings and HathiTrust’s digitized corpus.

To inquire about membership, please complete the HathiTrust Membership Intake Form or email support@hathitrust.org.

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