Academic Librarian: End to Controlled Digital Lending Would be ‘Detrimental’ to Community

By admin
Libraries around the world were forced to shut their doors in

the spring of 2020
DATE

during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Temple University Libraries
ORG

was no exception. While the

Philadelphia
GPE

institution’s physical buildings were closed, librarians got creative about how to remain open to students, faculty and staff.


Olivia Given Castello
PERSON

, social science librarian,

Temple University
ORG

It was all about getting users connected with digital material.

Library
ORG

staff worked together to develop a simple new service—they added a “

Get Help Finding a
WORK_OF_ART


Digital
ORG

Copy” button to their library catalog. When searching for resources in the library catalog, users can click on the button to request assistance finding a physical item in digital form, which creates a help ticket for library staff to field.

Within

the first week
DATE

of the button launch in

April 2020
DATE

, there were

about 350
CARDINAL

requests. Since then, the requests have surpassed

9,000
CARDINAL

.

“Our popular service helps users get access to resources they need quickly without economic hardship, and without having to travel to campus,” said

Olivia Given Castello
PERSON

, a social science librarian and unit head in

Temple Libraries’ Learning & Research Services
ORG

department, who helped create the new service.

Temple relies on a variety of sources for its digital requests—including the Internet Archive. “It’s a valuable resource through which we help

Temple
ORG

library users find digital copies of inaccessible or inconveniently accessible items in our physical collection,” Given

Castello
PERSON

said of

the Internet Archive
ORG

’s ebooks available through controlled digital lending (

CDL
ORG

).


Charles Library
PERSON

at

Temple University
ORG

For a large research university,

Temple
ORG

’s library collections’ budget is modest, and it has been challenging to keep up with the rapidly rising costs of journals and monographs given the static library budget in

recent years
DATE

. Additionally, there are ebooks that the libraries are unable to provide. Commercial publishers want to maximize profits gained from ebook sales to individual students, so unlike with print books, there are many ebook titles they refuse to sell to libraries, or refuse to sell with adequate user licensing. Based on past requests, we estimate that

just under 20%
PERCENT

of the digital items that

Temple
ORG

finds through its new service is in the Internet Archive collection, said Given

Castello
PERSON

.

“Our library serves a diverse user community that is socio-economically disadvantaged relative to those at many other R1

U.S.
GPE

research universities,” she said. The

R1
CARDINAL

designation indicates a university that grants doctoral degrees and has very high research activity; the list of

146
CARDINAL

institutions so designated include the wealthiest private universities in the

U.S.
GPE

“Our users’ ability to access ebooks through

the Internet Archive
ORG

’s controlled digital lending eases financial strain on them.”

“The actions of commercial publishers have put the academic publishing model at risk, pushing the boundaries in ways that prevent libraries from serving the role in society that they need to” Given

Castello
PERSON

said. “We’re trying to cope with that. Services like the one we set up, and controlled digital lending for borrowing ebooks from

Internet Archive
ORG

are important in this challenging landscape”

“We can’t let commercial publishers’ short-term shareholder profits take such precedence that they get in the way of equitable access to information.”

Olivia Given Castello
PERSON

, academic librarian

Given

Castello
PERSON

wrote about the Temple experience in

Supporting Online Learning and Research
ORG

: Assessing our Virtual Reference Activities and Get help finding a digital copy: A pandemic response becomes the new normal.

“For any university that has a student body with significant economic challenges, organizations like the Internet Archive are just so important in helping make knowledge and information accessible to everyone, regardless of their economic privilege,” Given

Castello
PERSON

said. “Libraries exist, in part, so that getting access to the information you need is not dependent on your personal wealth. Inequity of information access is bad for individuals and for society as a whole.”

If legal action were to diminish or shut down

CDL
ORG

, Given

Castello
PERSON

said it would be “detrimental” to the university’s service.

She added: “We can’t let commercial publishers’ short-term shareholder profits take such precedence that they get in the way of equitable access to information. Eventually, that will have a long-term negative impact on knowledge creation, which hurts our society, companies, and the economy as well. Sometimes you have to think of the greater good.”