Summon search system to expand

A recent news release announced a partnership that brings into the Summon search system the full text of the entire collection of digitized books held by the HathiTrust Digital Library, which Dartmouth Library joined in late 2010.

This is really an exciting piece of news, and is a big step towards fulfilling the promise of the many years of effort involved in digitizing those millions of volumes (an initiative undertaken by Google as part of the Google Books project).  (It’s important to note that only works in the public domain will be instantly available through this new, expanded search system.   It’s an unprecedented level of research and discovery, but not (yet) the world’s published knowledge at your fingertips.)

There are really two pieces of magic involved here: first, the full-text search across the vast HathiTrust repository, and second, the integration of this digitized content into Dartmouth’s Summon system.  What HathiTrust has done (building on the work of Google) is amazing enough, – the ability to search across the text of 8.8 million volumes (of which some 4.8 million volumes are books, and the rest are largely the multiple volumes of over 200,000 serials).  Till now, however, this has been a separate step from searching our own collections here at Dartmouth.

Summon, the discovery service developed by Serials Solutions (Dartmouth was an early development partner) and made available to the Dartmouth community in late 2009, is like the HathiTrust in that it similarly allows for a single search of a vast unified collection of content.   In addition to digital content (ejournals and the like), Summon includes the Library’s traditional catalog, so that (for example) you could search in Summon for Last of the Mohicans and discover the dozen or more published editions held in Baker Berry (not to mention the terrific 1999 film with Daniel Day-Lewis), several rare editions held in Rauner, as well as critical works about Last of the Mohicans, and a vast range of scholarly journal articles.

However, till now, searches in Summon only searched across the records for books (print books, ebooks, rare books, audio books …).  With this latest move, searches in Summon will search across the full text of all those digitized books  to bring research to an entirely new level of specificity and detail.  In the words of a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, searching will soon comb through “every word of every book, monograph, journal, and magazine held in the HathiTrust Digital Library that is also either in the library’s print collection or part of the “public domain,” a body of non-copyrighted works that comprises at least 20 percent of HathiTrust’s digital holdings. If the work is under copyright, Summon directs the user to where it can be found in the stacks. If it is in the public domain, Summon links to the full electronic text.”

It’s a golden age of research, indeed.

Read the article in Inside Higher Ed (“Google Who?”)
Read the Serials Solutions press release about HathiTrust content coming to Summon
Explore HathiTrust
Play with Summon (“the last of the mohicans”)

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