This is the first article of the series Thoughts on HathiTrust which will feature UC staff members and their work with HathiTrust.
Rice Majors, Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources at UC Davis (photo credit Gregory Urquiaga)
Rice Majors started working at UC Davis in May 2018, as the Associate University Librarian for Scholarly Resources. In this role, he is responsible for managing the life cycle of library collections, including acquisition, cataloging, circulation, preservation, rare books, archives, and assessment. Since his arrival at Davis, Rice has emerged as a champion of book digitization efforts. He became involved with HathiTrust as a liaison for HathiTrust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS), when the pandemic limited access to physical libraries. In 2020, he was appointed to HathiTrust’s Program Steering Committee (PSC) which focuses on HathiTrust’s development agenda, including new initiatives and strategies. Under his leadership, UC Davis rejoined the Google Library Project in January 2021, and while the pandemic delayed the start of the project, the campus began sending books to be scanned by Google in May 2022. He is pioneering the strategic selection of volumes to be sent for Google scanning, focusing on pools of materials important to campus researchers, unique UC Davis holdings, and texts that will strengthen the diversity and inclusivity of the HathiTrust Digital Library collection.
Most recently, Rice has become the principal investigator (PI) for UC’s Project LEND, a groundbreaking two-year initiative supported by the Mellon Foundation that is investigating the potential for the expanded lawful use of digitized books held by academic and research libraries. HathiTrust (and a handful of its member institutions who comprise the project’s Library Community Group) are partnering with UC in this innovative endeavor which will leverage expertise gained via the ETAS initiative as well as decades of digitization.
You can learn more about Rice’s digitization efforts in his recent posts and at the Project LEND website:
- Why We Are Doubling Down on Digitizing Books: Flexibility and ease of use for research, accessibility, emergency preparedness, and elevating diverse voices (November 2022)
- University of California to Research Expanded Access to Digitized Books: Mellon Foundation Providing $1.1M in Support (January 2023)
UC & HathiTrust: Q&A with Rice Majors
Rice recently responded in writing to the following questions about HathiTrust:
What do you see as HathiTrust’s greatest strength?
Libraries are stronger when they collaborate, and this to me is HathiTrust's greatest strength: that it is the realization of library cooperation, and provides such a robust set of services (including its most visible service -- the digital library) to users.
What is UC’s greatest contribution (or greatest potential contribution) to HathiTrust?
UC has such a strong tradition of contributing to (and cooperating with) HathiTrust that this is a tough one. Setting aside all humility, though, I think the greatest is just beginning, which is our partnership with HathiTrust in Project LEND, which seeks to advance user access to digital books.
What is the best thing UC is getting from its participation in HathiTrust?
To date, the best thing we have gotten was the strength of support that HathiTrust showed us during the early months of the pandemic. HathiTrust was fundamental to the business continuity of the 10-campus system -- to research, education, and clinical care -- via its Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS).
If you could change one thing about HathiTrust, what would it be?
I would second what a lot of UC users told us when we studied their use of ETAS -- that the user interface for accessing books needs a number of critical improvements!
How do you envision HathiTrust in 10 years’ time?
HathiTrust may just be hitting its stride in some ways -- I see the digital library as becoming a core asset for libraries providing various modalities of access to their users, and at the same time perhaps taking on a greater preservation role for assets -- born-digital assets, perhaps, and even as a potential system of record for things like federal documents, which could lift a burden off of a lot of repository libraries nationwide.
What is your favorite HathiTrust book?
I discovered a 1917 stage adaptation of A Christmas Carol one day, which is the exact version of the play that I was in when I was in middle school, playing Young Scrooge! The adaptation is by Walter Ben Hare from the original Dickens.
In addition to his library leadership role at UC Davis, Rice leads a creative life as a musical theater director and composer.