The International Alliance of Research Library Associations (IARLA), representing the research libraries of Australia, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is today amplifying the calls that our associations and others have made toward easing access restrictions on digital content during the COVID-19 crisis.
One of the widespread responses to this crisis in the post-secondary education sector has been a rapid shift from face-to-face to remote instruction. This trend is likely to continue for the rest of the academic term, and possibly much longer. As courses change, students need access to course materials and library resources in digital formats. Likewise, academic research in all fields—and most importantly, on urgent global challenges such as the pandemic itself—must be able to continue through this period of university and lab closures.
Firewalls, restrictive licenses, and unduly cautious or narrow interpretations of copyright stand in the way of remote instruction and research, as they limit access to course materials, library resources, and peer scholarship. Such measures also limit the ability of researchers to share the results of their work.
The current situation calls for flexibility, good will, and collaboration so that post-secondary institutions can fulfill their educational responsibilities and provide remote services using in-copyright works without fear of litigation.
IARLA member associations are all signatories to the “Statement on the Global COVID-19 Pandemic and Its Impact on Library Services” issued by the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC). Our associations have also issued statements pertaining to our own national or regional contexts:
- Australia: Council of Australian University Librarians (CAUL): “ANZ University Libraries Respond to COVID-19 Pandemic” and “CAUL and AOASG Welcome Open Access to Scholarly Content during COVID-19 Pandemic”; Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA): “Australian Libraries Responding to COVID-19”
- Canada: Canadian Association of Research Libraries/Association des Bibliothèques de Recherche du Canada (CARL/ABRC): “Statement on Optimal Equitable Access to Post-Secondary Learning Resources during COVID-19”
- Europe: Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche/Association of European Research Libraries (LIBER): “Europe Must Take Urgent Copyright Law Action to Support Distance Learning and Research during the Coronavirus Pandemic”; France: Couperin.org, ADBU, et EPRIST: “Coronavirus : appel aux éditeurs pour ouvrir leurs publications à tous”
- United Kingdom: Jisc, Research Libraries UK (RLUK), and others: “Statement on Access to Content in Response to COVID-19”
- United States: Association of Research Libraries (ARL): “ARL Urges Publishers to Maximize Access to Digital Content during COVID-19 Pandemic”
IARLA is an alliance of research library associations representing constituents in Australia, Canada, Europe, the United Kingdom, and the United States. We develop agreed positions in order to advance an international research library agenda particularly in order to advance open scholarship.