Library access to digital items such as online journals, electronic books, music and video has been relatively straightforward during the COVID-19 pandemic, but what about the millions of printed books lining the shelves of libraries?
Brock University Library recently added a print pickup service and has now launched HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS), which provides electronic access to roughly one-third of the print books housed in Schmon Tower.
This new service is based on an approach called controlled digital lending (CDL), which is the digital equivalent of traditional library book lending. It means a library like Brock’s can lend out a secured digital version in place of a physical book in its collection.
In order to adhere to copyright laws, a library can only offer as many digital copies of a book as it physically owns. Digital rights management (DRM) technology is used to ensure a consistent “owned to loaned” ratio. If a digital copy is borrowed, the physical copy must not be lent out at the same time. So if a library owns two copies of a particular book, it could lend out two digital copies while the physical books themselves are inaccessible.
“We are thrilled to be reconnecting students, staff and faculty with so many of our books that are otherwise inaccessible during COVID-19,” said Mark Robertson, Brock’s University Librarian. “This is especially crucial for members of our community who may be geographically dispersed during the shutdown. This is good news for teaching, learning and research at Brock.”
Earlier this month, Brock Library became a member of HathiTrust, an organization focused on the preservation and improved access of print materials. Founded in 2008, it now provides legal access to more than 17 million digitized books and other material.
Membership provides the opportunity to activate HathiTrust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS), which is available when situations such as the current COVID-19 pandemic block traditional access to printed books.
With this service now active, Brock students, faculty and staff will have CDL access to the approximately 30 per cent of the University Library’s books which are in HathiTrust’s digital library.
“Activating ETAS allows us to provide digital access to works in our collection with a matching copy in HathiTrust, for as long as our physical collection is inaccessible,” said John Dingle, Acting Head of Collections for Brock Library. “Once the Library’s physical spaces have fully reopened and regular access to the print collection items is restored, our ETAS access will end.”
For step-by-step instructions on how to use HathiTrust ETAS to access Brock-owned books and a full list of services and resources available during Brock’s COVID-19 response, see the FAQ section on the Library’s website.