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Silver lining of the COVID-19 crisis for digital libraries in terms of remote access

Lenka Pokorná (Moravian Library, Brno, Czech Republic)
Michal Indrák (Moravian Library, Brno, Czech Republic)
Maroš Grman (Moravian Library, Brno, Czech Republic)
Frantisek Stepanovsky (Moravian Library, Brno, Czech Republic)
Martina Smetánková (Moravian Library, Brno, Czech Republic)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 12 August 2020

Issue publication date: 11 December 2020




The paper aims to describe a digital library (DL) model that attempts to replace traditional library services during the lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, set in the context of current copyright laws. A server instance protected by shibboleth authentication enabled students and academic staff access remotely even copyright-protected works for the period of the lockdown. Through brief observation of user behaviour in this server instance, the paper explores accessed titles, especially with focus on their copyright status.


Library usage was observed in a branch of a DL, which enabled remote access to copyright-protected documents. Data were obtained from Google Analytics and access logs enriched with metadata.


Academic DL users overwhelmingly preferred titles that are copyright protected, monographs in particular. Their spectrum of interests was wide, and thus, mass digitisation is essential.


The paper presents a solution to provide free remote access to library users during closure on a national level. The case study reveals the needs and interests of DL users via a brief analysis of accessed titles and gives grounds for further changes towards a more open remote access DL model, which would be possible within the current copyright restrictions.



The paper was funded by the Institutional support for long term conceptual development of a research organization (the Moravian Library) by the Czech Ministry of culture. The shibboleth-based identity management system was made possible thanks to cooperation with CESNET. We would also like to thank our colleague Peter Žabička for thorough proofreading and an abundance of comments.


Pokorná, L., Indrák, M., Grman, M., Stepanovsky, F. and Smetánková, M. (2020), "Silver lining of the COVID-19 crisis for digital libraries in terms of remote access", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 389-401.



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