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.
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. https://doi.org/10.1108/DLP-05-2020-0026Download as .RIS
Emerald Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited
The concept of a library as a physical place has long been challenged by the increasing popularity of digital services; a long-lasting trend has been now accelerated by the present lockdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. A number of hybrid libraries, with digital and physical collections coexisting alongside each other, were forced to become fully digital libraries, basically overnight. Though many such libraries were leaning towards the virtual presence for years and investing energy and resources into the development of the digital aspect of the library (Breeding in Turner, 2010, p. 262; George, 2005, p. 332) and libraries are amazingly modernist and flexible institutions (Einasto, 2019), the complete closure of physical libraries was an abrupt turn that brought about a number of issues. Seeking ways to supplement at least some services in a purely digital form, libraries had to tackle copyright issues as well as to solve the technical aspects of suddenly operating on a purely virtual level.
Most of the academic and research libraries in Europe closed down, yet schools and universities continued to run courses online. The Association of European Research Libraries LIBER as well as a few other national and international library associations have issued statements about libraries’ role in helping educational establishments fulfil their responsibilities throughout the pandemic by ensuring remote access to materials; they also appealed to governments and publishers to help libraries and educational institutions fulfil this role (LIBER, 2020). Internet archive made an ethically questionable move, giving open access to a temporary digital collection called the National Emergency Library. While undoubtedly helpful, some authors argue that this initiative lacks the proper structure to successfully supplement the closed libraries (Coyle, 2020).
In the Czech Republic, libraries were closed to the public from mid-March, hoping to weather the crisis with no more than the currently available digital collections. However, soon it became clear that a more complex solution would be necessary, as the available online resources proved insufficient and more long-term measures had to be taken. The two largest research libraries in the country (The National Library and Moravian Library), collaborating on digitisation projects, share an extensive digital collection of over 220,000 digitised documents, so it is these two libraries that best showcase the measures taken to enable access to as many documents as possible. In recent years, they both have been investing a lot of effort into building a solid digital infrastructure with full-text search and thematic digital collections, logically structuring information. Because of this, it was possible within a couple of days to implement a system that enabled these digital libraries to take charge of most of the library services that are available at the moment, eventually making all the digitised documents available to registered users, students, In this case and some few others we used the Oxford comma, but I guess it is rather up to the publisher whether to retain them, according to standards of the given journal :) and academic staff, whether they be in the public domain or not. The Moravian Library, being the research library with one of the largest digitisation departments in the country, was long trying to shift a number of services towards the digital alternative, and the lockdown presented an opportunity for this change. The paper, thus, bears witness on how the pandemic actually accelerated what seems to be an inevitable process in the long run.
1.1 Effect of the lockdown on the library users
The Moravian Library was closed to the public on the 11 March 2020. The information boom in the past two decades resulted in the majority of people seeking information through search engines rather than going to the library (Ceynowa, 2009, pp. 17–18; Einasto, 2019, p. 160), so many libraries have been taking upon themselves the role of a learning-focused community centre rather than a place to seek information (Choy and Goh, 2016). However, with the closure and the suspension of all cultural and educational events that the library provided, it became once again primarily a place to seek information; a role to which the digital environment is extremely well suited these days.
The main focus naturally turned to the digital library and other digital resources; yet, in spite of the extensive digital collection, the digital library fell short at replacing loan services or reference reading rooms. Only 19.41% of all digitised documents are actually in the public domain, so under the current copyright law, the library is not allowed to make the majority digitised documents accessible outside the library building. For example, periodicals published after 1950 could be viewed either in their physical form in the periodical reading room or accessed in the digital form from special terminals in the library building. These documents often contain valuable information not to be found anywhere on the internet. As far as loan services go, a number of books that people could have borrowed, are no longer on sale, so with the loan services suspended and the building closed, people were completely cut off from the possibility of getting hold of these books; this, obviously, poses the greatest problem to students who had no access to certain study materials. A portion of these books is digitised, but as they are not in the public domain, the library was not allowed to make them available online.
Copyright issues are a problem all digital repositories have to face. Considering that information technologies allow endless possibilities to copy and digitally reproduce documents, international understanding of copyright often stifles the progress of library service both from the perspective of users and librarians; the former view the limitations as an nuisance, and the latter would like to extend library services to people who find it difficult or impossible to visit the library in person (Matušík, 2016, p. 262). “Balancing conflicting public and private interests” can be difficult and voices questioning the very philosophy of copyright were being heard more than ten years ago, calling on the scope of copyright as being radically out of date (Urs, 2004, p. 201; Lessig in Aulisio, 2013, p. 567). Since then, copyright legislation was reformed on the European as well as on the national level, offering libraries some wiggle room to expand access to information.
Users often do not understand why they have no access to specific books, especially the younger generation who are used to fast and free access to information via Google and expect libraries to provide access to online materials “at any time and from any place” (Shoham and Klain-Gabbay, 2019, p. 1). In a recent research in the Moravian Library, when asked what they lacked most in the digital library (DL), users mentioned they would appreciate more open access documents, at 10.56% often not understanding this is not the library’s decision to make (Indrák and Pokorná, 2020). In spite of the misconceptions among library users, it is the librarians’ duty to protect the authors’ rights (Aulisio, 2013, p. 567).
In compliance with the library licence currently valid in the Czech Republic, libraries are allowed to make digital copies of all documents in their collections for the purpose of preservation and protection, but can allow remote online access only to those monographs published more than 50 years ago and whose last surviving author died more than 70 years ago (Copyright Act, 2017, Article 37). Many of the protected digitised documents have been off the market for years, so, in effect, making them available online does not infringe on economic rights of the copyright owners. However, obtaining permission from individual copyright owners is a daunting task beyond the possibilities of libraries (Mahesh and Mittal, 2009, p. 678) and often yields no positive results as demonstrated in a study by George (2005) who tried this on a random sample of publications. This was one of the reasons behind a European Union (EU) directive concerning collective management of authors’ rights from 2014, which led to the amendment to the Copyright Act of the Czech Republic that came into force in 2017.
The amendment modifies the conditions of agreements drawn by collective management organisations. In the context of DLs, the most important addition to the Copyright Act is the paragraph allowing an agreement, which provides open access to non-serial publications that are off the market and to periodicals that have been published more than ten years ago (Article 97e Paragraph 4(i); Article 97f Paragraph 4). Conditions of creating a list of such works are also stated by the amended act (Article 97f), allowing for the possibility of the right-owners to withdraw their work from the list. Ten years ago, a similar policy was implemented in the Bavarian State Library, which has been concluding contracts with publishing houses in certain fields to allow open access to digitised documents up to a certain publication date, while compensation fees were paid by the German research organisation (Ceynowa, 2009, p.19).
Article 97e also enables libraries to obtain a licence from collective rights management organisations which could provide access to digital copies of documents for the sake of research and education, if required by users (Copyright Act, 2017, Article 97e Paragraph 4(h)). This is in line with the IFLA (2016) Statement on Open Access to Scholarly Literature and Research Documentation, which emphasises the vital importance of access to scholarly literature for progress’s sake. The regulation was recently much debated in regard to the lack of access to information because of the closure. The European Directive 2014/26/EU (2014) contains similar exceptions to authors’ rights, providing remote access for the purpose of teaching or scientific research and ensuring that all people have equal access to copyright works (Article 5.3). These articles were used as the legal groundwork of LIBER’s statement on measures that European governments as well as publishers and right-owners should take during the pandemic regarding remote access to copyright works (LIBER, 2020).
2. Presenting the measures taken in response to the lockdown
In response to the present need for more open-access documents available from the comfort of one’s home, the largest Czech libraries have decided to modify the existing software to create a DL model with open remote access for students, academic staff, and their registered users. In line with the statements lately issued by various library associations and consortiums (LIBER, ICLOC) beseeching publishers to allow “remote access to eBooks currently limited to premises only access, for research purposes” as “in normal times licences would simply not be needed as people could visit the library or attend the lecture in person” (LIBER, 2020), Czech libraries, too, deemed it their responsibility to provide remote access to knowledge. Of course, a substantial proportion of the library’s collection has not been digitised yet, and users may not find the title they are looking for. As far as works in the public domain are concerned, users can use the service provided by the international project EOD (e-Books on Demand). Another option, one that comes in handy during the lockdown, is simply requesting the publication to be digitised in the library’s Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) and included in the DL; this can be done regardless of whether the work is in the public domain or copyright-protected. To ensure copyright compliance, a restriction on downloading or printing digitised documents was imposed within the software system itself.
This was done in accordance with the abovementioned amendment to the Copyright Act that enables licence agreements providing access to digital copies for non-profit purposes, research, and study. Several key libraries can now provide open access to their digital collections on grounds of an agreement drawn between the National Library of the Czech Republic and associations for authors’ protection who perform collective rights management.
The libraries managed to draw all these agreements on such short notice, thanks to a project that was already underway. Since 2017, the Czech Republic has been preparing a model for digitising works that are off the market to make them available to library users even if they are not in the public domain. The fees to the authors’ association Dilia are covered by the Ministry of Culture. Most of the agreements were already drawn up and the technical solution was being worked upon. Even though details of the two models vary, legally speaking, they are built on similar principles and are justified by the same legal articles.
Even with all this groundwork, the library could not magically make all documents public overnight for everyone (this being a serious infringement of copyright); a more complex technical solution had to be developed, the details of which are presented below in a nutshell.
To provide access to digitised or digital-born documents, the library has been using an open-source DL system called Kramerius, which provides a Web interface for end users, enabling both full-text and metadata search. The system is based on a client–server model with the system core and the Web client using an open application program interface (API) and open-source third-party components, such as the Fedora repository and the Apache Solr search and indexing platform. When the data package is ingested into the Kramerius main system, the metadata package already includes the information whether the document is in the public domain or not. The core separates the image data and the metadata; the image data are ingested into the image server, while the metadata as well as the full-text data are ingested into the Fedora repository (Figure 1). Before data indexing, the Kramerius main system can invoke a function of a moving wall, which, based on the publication date, can make certain documents (most notably periodicals) available regardless of the preset attribute public/private (copyrighted). Then, the data from the Fedora repository are indexed in Solr which is used for full text and metadata search. Kramerius server then provides access to its functionality through an API, which is accessed by a range of clients, either Web-based or mobile. After the user enters a query, all relevant results appear, and they can access the images according to the year of publication (this enabled by the moving wall solution) or the preset metadata attribute private/public. Considering that this information is a part of the original metadata package, it was not possible to simply ignore it for certain users (students, academic staff, registered users) while maintaining it for others.
To solve the problem, the library created a separate client–server system (Figure 1) called the National DL for Universities, which is connected to both the original Fedora and the original image server. The core of the Kramerius for universities is configured to ignore the attribute private/public when reading the data; therefore, as far as the system is concerned, all documents are public for the Kramerius for universities. Thus, anyone who can access the National DL for Universities has open access to all the documents, regardless whether they are public or copyrighted. The system is secured with a shibboleth-based identity management system tied to the Czech academic identity federation eduid.cz, which checks both authentication and authorisation of users who log in through their institution. If the users do not meet the authorisation requirements, they are redirected to the original Kramerius interface.
Making all documents available in an open-access model has presented the authors of the paper with a unique opportunity to observe the behaviour of DL users in unprecedented conditions. Up to this time, users were fairly restricted in their choices; one could not access what they were really interested in and what they found most helpful for their studies or work. Observing users’ behaviour when free of copyright restrictions gives the library grounds for reflection on whether a similar model of remote open access would be beneficial for the future.
Apart from basic statistics such as how the lockdown affected the traffic of the DL (in terms of both individual users and sessions), the research examines the content and attributes of the accessed documents. In the context of copyright, the paper looks at the proportion of viewed documents which are in the public domain in spite of the fact that the users now have remote access to copyrighted documents too. This can help the library assess the demand for copyrighted or public documents. Within copyrighted documents, those published before 2008 are of particular interest; libraries in the Czech Republic are launching a project of extending remote access to digitised works that are off the market and have been published before 2008 for monographs and 2010 for periodicals. The research can, therefore, give the library an idea whether such a project would be consequential, seeing the percentage of the works accessed before this year. In addition to the date of publication and copyright status, it is helpful to see what types of documents users prefer (e.g. periodicals, monographs, maps) or estimate whether their motivation to use the DL was for research or leisure purposes, based on the content of the accessed titles.
Data for the research were gathered partially from Google Analytics and partially from backend access logging. Data log analysis proved to be a useful approach, which offers all kinds of options: viewing types of consulted documents, recognising their metadata, following the sequence of users’ actions (Nouvellet et al., 2018, p. 2). Google Analytics was used to examine the use of the DL during the closure and before; the traffic of Moravian Library's DL was monitored from the beginning of March until the end of April 2020, both in regard to the number of individual users and sessions (users with a unique device which interact with the webpage within a particular timeframe). It is compared to the DL traffic during the same time period of the previous year. The authors vary on the details of what a session is (Nouvellet et al., 2019; Fagan, 2014), but the paper uses it in the sense of a user with a unique device that interacts with the webpage within a particular timeframe. To speak about accesses to individual documents, the paper uses the term title session, which denotes an access to each unique title within a session, regardless of how many times the user returns to this title while the session lasts. Consultations of periodical literature were analysed on the level of volumes.
Backend logging was used to obtain information on content and metadata of accessed documents. To remove access by robots, data cleansing was performed, and then, raw access logs, including the universally unique identifiers (UUIDs) of the accessed documents, were enriched with metadata from the Fedora repository to include the copyright policy, publication date, type of document, and system number of the record from the library catalogue. This allows further enrichment of the logs through the Aleph library system based on the system number to add content description of the accessed documents. The data from access logs were gathered in a timeframe of nearly six weeks from 24 March (when the new server instance was launched) to 30 April.
Tracking page views on the webpage of the DL (digitalniknihovna.cz/mzk) revealed that after the closure of the library building on 11 March 2020, the DL traffic increased by 67.34% in comparison to the same time period of the previous year. As users could no longer go to the library building, they turned to the available digital resources, even if they could access no more than 20% of the total because of copyright issues. However, another substantial leap in traffic was recorded on 24 March and further on, when the model described above was introduced, enabling students, academic staff, and registered users to access copyrighted documents remotely. Within the period of observation between 24 March and 30 April 2020, Google Analytics recorded 1,317,074 page views, counting both server instances (the original DL and the DL for universities). In comparison to past year’s 609,966 page views within the given period, the usage increased by 215.93%. This came as a surprise because a more dramatic increase was expected; this can be explained by the required shibboleth authentication. The National DL for Universities alone recorded 16,901 unique users during the few weeks of observation, which amounts to approximately 445 users per day. Regarding the number of sessions, users made 76,732 sessions altogether, amounting to 4.49 sessions per user.
Data from backend server access logging were collected only from the DL branch National DL for Universities, which provides open remote access to all documents. This allowed the authors of the paper to study the distribution of accessed documents in a seemingly copyright-free environment. The logs revealed 8,814 unique IP addresses. With a title session being defined as individual access to each unique title, logs recorded 100,817 individual title sessions, while browsing 44,830 different titles, which constitute 18.04% of the whole content of the DL. From Table 1, it is obvious that monographs were in highest demand, with as many as 81,568 title sessions and 36,737 accessed titles. However, 59.8% of the titles had no more than one single access. Because periodicals often cover tens of volumes and a multitude of issues, periodical titles themselves had a higher rate of multiple accesses: 14.88% of titles were accessed more than ten times, and only 36.9% were on the longtail with a single access. Individual volumes show a pattern more comparable to monographs – but a fragment (2.42%) was accessed more than ten times, and 51.62% of all volumes were visited only once.
In terms of the overall percentage of document types (Table 1), monographs constitute 88.3% of all accessed documents, followed by periodicals (volumes) at 11.1%. These numbers roughly mirror the content of the DL; monographs form the bulk of the DL at 80.31%, while periodicals account for no more than 10%. When compared to the library’s statistics before the National DL for Universities was launched, it is clear that users’ interest in periodicals dropped significantly. In previous years, the proportion of periodical accesses amounted up to 50% of all consultations (Moravská Zemská Knihovna,2015-2019); this can be possibly explained by the high percentage of old periodical volumes in the public domain and a more lenient open-access policy regarding periodicals, which attracts a stable base of users from all over the country. However, once users gained restriction-free access to monographs, there was a dramatic increase in the number of accessed monographs. This trend is further stressed by the fact that the library’s statistics from the previous two years indicate that the number of accessed monographs is increasing hand in hand with the number of digitised monographs, while the number of accessed periodicals remains roughly the same, regardless of the number of periodicals available in the DL.
Copyright being a much discussed concept in relation to this model, it seemed useful to know what is the proportion between the public and copyrighted accessed tiles (Table 3) as well as what is the distribution of public and copyrighted documents in the DL (Table 2). Table 2 shows that a substantial majority of monographs in the DL were copyright protected, while there is a much higher number of public documents among periodicals and maps.
Regarding the proportion of public and copyrighted monographs in the DL, it is not surprising that users overwhelmingly opted for copyrighted documents at 91.95% (Table 3). The first 15 most accessed titles were all copyrighted, and in the top 100 titles, only four were public. As far as periodicals are concerned, the proportion of accessed copyrighted documents was not so overwhelming at 53.51%. Among the top ten most accessed periodical volumes, six were public. Apparently, users still take an interest in old periodical publications, as these are intriguing from the perspective of research. Most accessed volumes were from years 1939, 1950, 1948 or 1968, all of which are significant in terms of Czech history. Most popular periodical titles were daily newspapers such as Lidové Noviny “People’s News” (1893–1945) or Rudé právo “Red Justice” (1945–1983), which are particular of a certain era. Regarding maps, on the other hand, even though old maps were still accessed a lot, logs revealed considerable interest in newer maps, which are copyright-protected under normal circumstances; considering the small percentage proportion of copyright-protected maps in the DL, 40.99% is a rather high number (compare Tables 2 and 3).
On account of the project mentioned above that aims to make certain copyright works available through remote access up to a particular year of publication, the paper examines the proportion of accessed monographs and periodicals published before 2008 and 2010, respectively. Table 4 shows the number of accessed titles sorted into groups according to their publication date and copyright status. The middle column is of particular interest, as it shows titles under copyright protection (i.e. not available with remote access), which are planned to be made available provided they are off the market. Therefore, it indicates the real contribution of the project; regarding monographs, no less than 68.58% from the accessed titles fall into the category of works that could be made available once the project is fully implemented. As far as periodicals are concerned, the numbers show that the vast majority of users are more interested in older titles; once the project is launched, 89.71% of all the titles accessed during the observation period will be fully available, with the increment of 43.41% of titles.
Regarding the content, the results were not conclusive, and the data did not yield precise numbers, but based on the content field of the enriched logs, basic categories of interest could be drawn. It can be safely claimed that the core of the DL users use the library for research or self-education. Titles regarding humanities were much more accessed than titles on science, with the lead in psychology and education at over accessed 1,000 titles, followed by history, arts, economy, and politics. Among sciences, most accessed titles were on medicine, which may reflect main concerns of the population these days.
In the light of the presented data and the experience of the past two months, it seems perfectly feasible to partially switch libraries to a digital mode. The forced closure during the lockdown emphasised the need for digital transformation in libraries and nudged the society towards change. At the same time, it clearly demonstrated to library management that DLs are indeed a good investment of time and effort. The increase in DL traffic was not as dramatic as expected, which can be explained by various factors: users were put off by the shibboleth authentication request; the main target group was limited; and most importantly, this development branch of the DL is not indexed by Google – previous research in the Czech Republic and elsewhere has shown that Google search was the most common source of DL traffic (Nouvellet et al., 2019, pp. 9–10). Still, 16,901 individual users of the National DL for Universities alone imply that provided the DL offers rich content, library users are interested in the digital alternative.
Therefore, it was mainly the DL content that the paper examined in terms of accessed titles. The variety and scope of the accessed titles point to quite an extensive use of the available digital resources, emphasising the need for a wide spectrum of documents to be digitised. This is true of monographs in particular, considering the large number of titles accessed once only (59.8%). A number of libraries digitise periodicals primarily, mainly for preservation and because a considerable amount of periodicals is public and libraries need not concern themselves with copyright issues (Fleming and King, 2009; Nicholson, 2013, p. 60). However, drawing on the research, if DLs are to satisfy users’ needs and somehow supplement loan services, libraries should digitise more monographs, especially if newer works that are currently unavailable due to copyright will be made available for remote access. The considerable proportion of copyrighted works that were accessed (84.65%) demonstrates that users are in need of copyright-protected literature, and it is the library’s duty to provide them with such if it is unavailable anywhere else.
The analysis of content description metadata revealed that people used the DL mostly for research purposes, inclining towards the humanities. This knowledge will help the library plan digitisation in the future, revealing which subjects to focus on. The longtail of subject matters and topics, however, indicates that, apart from the few subjects that stand out, there is a variety of interest, and thus, mass digitisation is fundamental. Beyond providing mere access to digitised material, “intelligent management of information” is essential (Dillon, 2008), and thematic subcollections are helpful to organise the content (e.g. primary and secondary literature on the First World War).
The lockdown, therefore, revealed that library users need a DL model with a more open copyright policy. Ideally, educational and research needs would be integrated in the law, lest legislation should stifle digital working environment (Hormia-Poutanen, 2009, p. 25). Libraries must of course abide by the law and find a solution within the law’s limits. The above-mentioned agreement with the collective rights’ organisations would become such a solution, and this research bears witness to its usefulness and potential success. Of course, the present research included publications that are still on sale, so the figures will eventually be smaller, but among the 44,830 accessed titles, 35,004 monographs and periodicals were published before 2007 and 2010 respectively, making them viable for the new model. Ideally, the current model designed for the period of the lockdown will transition into the new model of making available digitised works that are off the market; thus, the COVID crisis will have only accelerated a process that is underway in any case.
That being said, the present solution brought about certain issues. Making all digitised works available online raised questions whether libraries are not harming the book industry. This is a valid point, but considering that the COVID crisis created a gap that the book industry is not able to fill at the moment, it fell to libraries to meet the demand for resources. As a token of gratitude and to help the market, the library launched a social media PR campaign #kupknihu (“#buyabook”), promoting photos or videos with books people have bought online during the pandemic.
Yet, another major issue is copyright awareness. With such a step, however temporary, libraries are getting people used to a service that cannot be provided under normal circumstances due to copyright, perhaps even generating misinformation about what is possible and legal. One of the library’s responsibilities is copyright education, so when implementing such a model, communication with users is essential. A closely related issue is piracy of copyright-protected documents that are made available online. It is up the library to ensure that such documents are not downloaded or printed and to keep track of users who manage to do so in spite of the restrictions in place.
The current digital model, however, does not supplement the community function of the library. Libraries in their physical form are community hubs, which enable learning and information exchange (Leorke et al., 2018), and there is no reason why DLs should not aspire to perform this role too. Inasmuch as access is subject to authentication, users could create accounts and use them to gloss on documents they are currently reading, discuss in virtual reading rooms or leave comments and recommendations on books, sparking up communication both ways. Some authors propose users participating in the DL classification through folksonomy and tagging, creating a lively dialogue between the library and its users (Einasto, 2019, p. 164).
With respect to the considerable success of the implemented model and the results yielded by the research, once legal and ethical matters are addressed, a DL model with more remote open access seems to be the way to go even after libraries reopen.
A few months ago no one would have imagined all the changes that most institutions were forced to undergo. Social distancing and the lockdown opened up a whole new platform of services. DLs, which were useful before, became now essential, striving to achieve their full potential. The need for information and the impossibility to gain it otherwise increased the users’ awareness about the services DLs provide.
The relevant question nowadays is whether the situation will return back to the status quo after libraries reopen or whether the lockdown was a prompt to a more permanent change. Will users even be interested to use reading rooms and lending services once they get used to remote access and digital information? (Ceynowa, 2009, p. 23). By the time the situation is stabilised, perhaps users will have become accustomed to seek information online and comfortably with remote access, and the library usage will further decrease. Or perhaps, libraries will experience a boom as community centres, as users will be starved for social communication.
The paper argues that change is imminent. The COVID crisis has led libraries to take steps that might have yet waited for some time in normal circumstances. Moreover, the copyright-free environment of the temporary solution gave libraries some lead about what users really want, which helps plan further digitisation; there should be “a constant dialogue between data mining and decision making” (Nouvellet et al., 2019, p. 15). Plans and strategies that libraries had planned before the pandemic can no longer be taken at face value, as a different situation requires a different approach. Why not then seize the opportunity and redesign library services, a change that has been long overdue.
Accessed titles in regard to document types and their distribution in the DL
|Type of document||Accessed titles||Title sessions||Distribution of document types in title sessions (%)||Types of documents available in the DL||Distribution of document types in the DL (%)|
Distribution of public/copyrighted documents in the DL
|Accessed type of document||Public||Copyrighted||Copyrighted (%)|
Proportions of the public/copyrighted documents in all the accessed titles
|Content of the DL||Public||Copyrighted||Copyrighted (%)|
Accessed titles in respect to the possible future model of open-access to publications that are off the market
|Number of accessed titles|
|Monographs||Public||Copyrighted and published before 2008||Published after 2008|
|Periodical volumes||Public||Copyrighted and published before 2010||Published after 2010|
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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.