According to UNESCO, partial or complete university and school closures in 49 countries have cancelled or suspended classes for 391 million students. Many college and university students will be completing the current academic term in an entirely on-line format. At the same time, more scientific information about the infection is needed. A new statement - promoted by the structures in charge of preserving knowledge, libraries, and addressed to Publishers - aims to sustain these fundamental process through an easier access to data, sources and research.
This statement, which is actively supported by the Library Commission of CRUI (Conferenza dei Rettori delle Università Italiane) and by SISSA director Stefano Ruffo, has been written on behalf of the many library consortia across the world that participate in ICOLC (International Coalition of Library Consortia), and the individual libraries these consortia represent. It is intended to help publishers and other content providers to better understand how the current global COVID-19 pandemic affects the worldwide information community. Its second purpose is to suggest a range of approaches that are in the mutual best interest of libraries and the providers of information services.
In the document several requests are listed, such as “making any relevant content and data sets about COVID-19, Coronaviruses (regardless of species affected), vaccines, antiviral drugs, etc. currently behind subscription-only paywalls Open Access immediately to facilitate research, guide community public health response, and accelerate the discovery of treatment options”. The statement asks also for the “lifting of existing contractual ILL restrictions or photocopying limits temporarily so that libraries may assist our students to complete their term”. A specific request concerns copyright: “We ask Publishers immediately consider allowing the maximum extent of copyright limitations, exception and fair use, even if contractually restricted, to enable institutions to continue their vital teaching missions as campuses transition to an online, remote format”.
You can read the full statement here