To read this content please select one of the options below:

Innovation during crisis: exploring reaction of Swedish university libraries to COVID-19

Serdar Temiz (Department of Industrial Engineering and Management, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden)
Lakshmi Pradip Salelkar (Department of Technology Management and Economics, Entrepreneurship and Strategy, Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden)

Digital Library Perspectives

ISSN: 2059-5816

Article publication date: 25 November 2020

Issue publication date: 11 December 2020




While universities are using more digital tools such as learning management systems (canvas, blackboard, etc). or massive open online courses (MOOCS) such as MIT, OpenCourseWare, edX, Coursera, digitalization has also influenced university libraries. Digital services of academic libraries need exploration on how they provide digital services and how they respond to COVID-19. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to explore and map digital services of academic libraries and their response to COVID-19 in Sweden.


Qualitative research approach is used in this study. Through a Web search, data was gathered from all 39 universities in Sweden through two means: visiting university and their respective library websites; examination of other documents provided by the university such as press releases, announcements. Evaluation of the content and digital services and libraries response to COVID-19 is conducted by thematic coding.


In response to the ongoing COVID-19 spread, a general trend seen among all is limited working hours, shutting down physical libraries for general public, unmanning operations. All 39 number of universities in Sweden have moved their offerings toward using online tools. The main themes that have been identified from our study are as follows: Availability of Information, Accessibility of resources, Collaboration with other actors, Increased use of existing services, motivation and support to practice social distancing.

Research limitations/implications

Owing to the limitations of COVID-19 conditions, time and other aspects, there was not any opportunity to visit the university libraries or book time to interview librarians or students, which led to limited level and imperfect research. There are many other activities that university libraries are offering to their employees and using their internal newsletters and email groups to reach their audience; as a result, some of digital services that are offered during COVID-19 might have not been noticed.

Practical implications

These findings can provide base to other universities on how to react to COVID-19 and bring more discussion.

Social implications

COVID-19 has big social impact on people. The findings present that libraries can go beyond their responsibilities and provide emotional and psychological support the community towards social distancing such as videos, social online meetings, live video workshops.


The findings from this study call for a review digital services of academic libraries and their response to COVID-19 in Sweden, so that best reactions and services could be understood.



We would like to thank you anonymous reviewers feedback and suggestions and proof reader Surendra Upadhyay for her eagle eyes and corrections


Temiz, S. and Salelkar, L.P. (2020), "Innovation during crisis: exploring reaction of Swedish university libraries to COVID-19", Digital Library Perspectives, Vol. 36 No. 4, pp. 365-375.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles