The Technical Report Archive & Image Library (TRAIL) identifies, acquires, catalogs, digitizes and provides unrestricted access to U.S. government agency technical reports.  TRAIL currently consists of over four dozen member institutions whose annual membership fees and volunteered staff time further the efforts of the project.


TRAIL was formed to meet the challenges of access to technical report literature.  These reports are rapidly disappearing from library shelves and documents collections. TRAIL selects, digitizes, and deposits technical reports into trusted repositories: the HathiTrust and the University of North Texas (UNT) Digital Library.  Content in the HathiTrust and UNT repositories is full-text searchable, and is openly accessible to all users.  Both HathiTrust and UNT follow strict preservation standards (see http://www.hathitrust.org/preservation and http://www.library.unt.edu/digital-projects-unit/software-and-processes for more information).  TRAIL provides a search interface as well, www.technicalreports.org, that searches only on metadata, but not the full text.


TRAIL depends on the continuing financial support of member institutions - new members are actively being sought to help TRAIL continue to do its work. While roughly 80% of TRAIL content is digitized through Google at no cost to TRAIL, the remaining 20% of material that cannot be sent through Google due to multiple-sized pages within a report, i.e., fold-outs, maps, etc., is digitized and stored at UNT at a cost to TRAIL.  Other major workflow costs include cataloging & metadata creation at the University of Arizona for all items digitized by TRAIL and the costs associated both with shipping technical reports to Arizona and then on to either Google or UNT for digitization. Funding is driven by membership. The more members, the more funding available to digitize that "special handling" content.


TRAIL’s collaborative effort leverages the contributions of institutions and other organizations committed to increasing access to science and technology literature across many disciplines. TRAIL has developed partnerships with institutions including the University of Arizona, University of Michigan, University of North Texas, and University of Washington, based on their individual priorities and strengths. These and other TRAIL partners have developed processes for documents to be scanned and digitally archived to ensure the longevity of these resources.

  • TRAIL and the Center for Research Libraries (CRL)

TRAIL is a member of the CRL Global Resources Network. CRL provides administrative assistance, a collaborative workspace for members, and a public website.  Membership in CRL is not required to be a member of TRAIL or to access TRAIL content.

  • TRAIL and the University of Arizona

The University of Arizona, in collaboration with CRL, submitted a proposal in 2006 as a response to a call for projects from the Greater Western Library Alliance (GWLA) to address new strategic directions.  The proposal was to develop a collaborative project with CRL to identify, digitize, and provide open access to federal technical reports. GWLA accepted the proposal and the developed project became the Technical Report Archive & Image Library (TRAIL).

The University of Arizona is the central processing site that receives and creates inventories of shipments, assembles collections, creates catalog records, and ships processed technical reports to either the University of Michigan or the University of North Texas for digitization.

  • TRAIL and the University of Michigan

In 2007 the University of Michigan Digitization Project offered to become involved. Michigan funnels the majority of the technical reports the Task Force wants to include in the project into the stream of materials that Michigan supplies to Google as one of its partners. Michigan receives a copy of all scanned documents it sends to Google. Thus TRAIL documents were funneled through U of M to Google for digitization. Content that requires special handling is digitized at the University of North Texas (UNT).

  • TRAIL and HathiTrust

TRAIL content digitized by Google is deposited in and made available through the HathiTrust, a shared digital repository for storing partner libraries’ digital content.

  • TRAIL and the University of North Texas (UNT)

UNT is a TRAIL member and serves a major role in digitizing and hosting content that requires special handling and cannot go through the Google digitization stream. UNT has developed a workflow  for the digitization of microfiche (TRAIL has digitized almost exclusively from paper to this point).

  • TRAIL and the University of Washington 

One of TRAIL's founding members, the University of Washington, developed and maintains the TRAIL search interface at www.technicalreports.org.



The focus of the annual meeting, usually held in the spring, is on acquainting new attendees with TRAIL, general direction and policy setting, and short and long-term strategic planning.  The members of the Steering Committee constitute the core attendees at the annual meeting, although all TRAIL Member Representatives and others who participate in TRAIL in some way are also welcome to attend.

Search U.S. government technical reports issued primarily prior to 1976 and digitized by TRAIL.