Through a partnership with HathiTrust Digital Services, UNC Libraries now has access to many free online resources. While these resources are ordinarily copyrighted, they will temporarily be available to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to research materials, books from popular authors, such as Toni Morrison, are newly available for free.
DTH staff writer Kristen Jones talked with Nerea Llamas, the associate University librarian for collections strategy and services, about these resources. This interview has been edited for clarity.
The Daily Tar Heel: Why did you decide to make more free resources available in this particular time?
Nerea Llamas: Of course, this is a time that everybody is having to work differently. Everyone is off campus, needing the resources that they needed when they were on campus, and so we're trying to find new ways of providing that content. We already had lots of electronic content that was available remotely. But now is a moment when we are enhancing that, either through purchasing new materials or through content that's being made freely available by publishers and other content providers. We're trying to curate that content and be able to present that so that faculty and students and other researchers have some direct access to it.
DTH: I was introduced to the greater amount of resources being available, just by seeing a tweet of the new Toni Morrison books that are now available. Could you provide some examples of like new and exciting books that are available now?
NL: So one of the most exciting things we're able to offer out is content via our HathiTrust partnership, and I believe that's the tweet that you saw related to Toni Morrison. That's exciting because HathiTrust is a partnership that we belong to, as do dozens of other libraries nationally. It is a place where we are able to deposit digital copies of our collections. And right now HathiTrust is ... making available content that is normally not available, as it is copyrighted material. The way they are able to do that is to provide us with access to digital copies of the materials that we have sitting in our building in print. And it is content that is available to our faculty, staff and students only, and it's content that we have already purchased in print, so it is just providing another layer of access to materials that we already had.
DTH: How long do you anticipate that the new resources will be available?
NL: We believe that the resources will be available through HathiTrust in particular, the full time that the libraries are closed. Once we open our doors again, that content will no longer be available to us.
DTH: Why do you think it's important for people to be reading in this time in particular?
NL: Everyone is doing their work off-site. They are continuing to do their work whether it's research, whether it's finishing up classes, whether it's working on other kinds of work. And so it is important that they have the resources that they need to do that work remotely. And if they are also reading in other ways, we are happy to provide content for them, but our main focus is really to provide the resources that people need for whatever reasons they need it.
DTH: How would you say that this new accessibility to more resources fits with UNC Libraries’ general mission?
NL: So our mission is to provide the campus with the resources that they need to do their work whether it's teaching, learning or research. And right now we have an opportunity to expand the access that we had already been building electronically. As I said earlier, we have a large collection of resources available electronically, whether those are books, videos or primary sources news content. We already had a large collection, and so this is giving us an opportunity to expand on all of those areas and to really think about into the future how we can build that collection, larger and make it more useful. This moment is giving us an opportunity to test out what real needs look like in a different way. After we get to a point where we know we have provided the necessary resources, we'll have a moment to step back and evaluate all of this and rethink how we build that electronic collection going forward.
DTH: Have you felt more of a sense of community within UNC Libraries right now?
NL: I think it's built a different sense of community, I think, amongst the staff we had a strong sense of community already. What this has done is given us a different opportunity to interact with each other in a different way. We also have a variety of different buildings and locations. And so now we have the opportunity to interact with more colleagues across those locations than we did before. But I think it's brought everybody together in a really wonderful way. Everyone feels connected, and we feel connected to the mission of the library. And through that connection, I think that that spreads out to our connection with students and faculty. We've been able to work really deeply and closely with some faculty, as they have moved their classes online and worked with students as they have also worked more remotely perhaps than they did before.
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