Cornell University Library has become the newest member of HathiTrust, a partnership of major academic and research libraries collaborating on a digital library initiative.

Cornell's library will deposit 300,000 digital books into HathiTrust by March 2011. In return, HathiTrust will ensure the long-term preservation of the materials and offer consistent access to the digital collections. It will also make public-domain materials available and offer such enhanced services as access for people with disabilities.

"Joining the HathiTrust means that our own digital copies will be accessible for the foreseeable future," said Anne Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian. "We're excited to contribute to this amazingly comprehensive archive and to help academic libraries lay the groundwork for a stable future for digital information."

HathiTrust's mission is to preserve and provide access to the published record in digital form, and more than two dozen institutions participate in the repository, including Columbia University, the University of California system and the New York Public Library. Founded in 2008, HathiTrust holds more than 7 million volumes of copyright and public-domain materials, which are freely available on the Web. Many of the books were digitized through the Google and Internet Archive programs.

"As our membership expands, the partnership is creating opportunities for integrating HathiTrust into the decisions libraries make surrounding the curation of the cultural record," said John Wilkin, executive director of HathiTrust. "Cornell will contribute a rich collection of digital volumes, and its early pre-eminence and significant work in shaping preservation-oriented reformatting will enrich the growing pool of talent that is being collaboratively applied to create an enduring digital library."

HathiTrust (pronounced "HAH-tee") is named for the Hindi word for elephant and is symbolic of memory, wisdom and strength evoked by elephants, as well as the huge undertaking of congregating the collections of the nation's top research libraries.