Capturing Covid-19 is a series of activities undertaken by RLUK, which aims to understand the impact of the pandemic on member institutions and the wider higher education sector.
In May 2020, we held a webinar to officially launch our manifesto for the digital shift in research libraries. The manifesto was the product of the pre-Covid-19 world, but it is clear that it cannot sit in isolation from our ongoing experiences of the Covid-19 crisis, and the webinar explored the experiences of delegates regarding the Covid-19 crisis and how this has embodied, shaped, and catalysed the digital shift.
The webinar can be viewed in the video to the right, and further discussion of the manifesto and the impact of Covid-19 can be read in this blog post.
IARLA convened an international symposium in June 2020, which explored the plans that research libraries are putting in place to reopen their physical library buildings and reinstate their onsite services in the post-, or continuing-, Covid-19 landscape. The symposium included presentations from speakers in the United States, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Australia, who shared the plans and preparations that they are putting in place for the reopening of their libraries, how these relate to their wider institutional context, and how they correspond with their national and regional experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The immediate reaction of RLUK member libraries to the crisis, and those of their parent institutions, provided valuable information regarding the role of the library and how it is perceived within its parent organisation, and we have summarised these responses in this report.
A short survey was also launched in May 2020 to investigate RLUK institutions’ plans to collect material related to the Covid-19 crisis. This report presents the results of the survey which are complemented by data gathered from online and social media research conducted by RLUK to identify the launch of relevant projects and initiatives led by RLUK institutions on contemporary collecting.
This report explores how RLUK member libraries prepared for the closure of their physical libraries, their experiences of working remotely, and what plans they are putting in place to enable their recovery, through the lens of the digital shift. It also uses the experience of RLUK members to examine the adaptability of the UK’s digital infrastructure, particularly around collections, and considers the extent to which the Covid-19 crisis might bring lasting change in how research libraries operate, both in terms of the digital shift and more widely.
Copyright and licensing
As physical spaces closed due to the pandemic, it became clear that access to physical collections would be impossible, constraining research, teaching and learning. While technical solutions exist to make digital texts more widely available, there are often copyright and licensing barriers in place. As a reaction to the continued crisis, RLUK has worked to engage with a wide range of stakeholders to attempt to remove some of these barriers, including:
Open letter to WIPO: RLUK endorsed an open letter sent on behalf of the education and research community to the Director General of the World Intellectual Property Office, Francis Gurry.
CLA license: Throughout late March and early April RLUK attended meetings with members of UUK CNAC and CLA to champion the relaxation of the provision of the CLA license during the Covid-19 crisis. The CLA announced the relaxation of the CLA license restrictions on 13.03.20 and this was communicated with RLUK members. Although a welcome step, the RLUK Executive have continued to engage with members of CNAC regarding the further relaxation of these provisions and their extension beyond the end of June. RLUK supports the UUK CNAC call for the extension the HE Licence terms.
National Emergency Library: RLUK endorsed the National Emergency Library created by the Internet Archive. Whilst it was active it allowed users worldwide to borrow electronic versions of digitised texts.
Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance: LACA held a virtual meeting on 21.04.20 during which it reviewed its priorities in light of the Covid-19 crisis and agreed the formation of working groups in order to take its work forward under these. Following these discussions an additional priority area was identified around ‘Compulsory licensing during a pandemic or other emergency’.