Library Services


Acquisition of additional online resources during lockdown

1 April 2020

Library Services have added over 30 new databases and now have access to 1.5 million books to support users during the lockdown.

Graphic representing individual study

In this time of national crisis, those involved in research and learning no longer have access to physical libraries with paper collections. This situation will continue as long as universities are in lockdown. As a result, the digital library offering made by each university comes into its own. Remote access to e-journals, e-books and databases can support that research and learning going forwards.

However, no one library can offer e-access to everything that its researchers and students need. Under current licensing arrangements (those which applied before Covid-19), UCL Library Services provided access to more than 85,000 electronic journals, 700,000 e-books and more than 200 online databases.

But there are many titles and packages to which universities do not subscribe. Extending free access to new content for the duration of the crisis has been a focus of their activity since they went into lockdown. The UK Higher Education library community is working together to request temporary access to such material for the duration of the lockdown. This work is important because some of these materials are vital, especially if you are a taught course student. The list of new E-resources with temporary Access during Covid-19 is now available online. The list is dynamic and constantly being updated. To date, 39 new databases/collections are in the list. Cambridge Core Textbooks provides access to all current CUP textbooks. The National Emergency Library provides access to 1.5 million books (UCL’s own total collection size is around 2 million). Most of the National Emergency Library materials will be older, not new material. It’s a tremendous addition, and it is described as follows:

‘The National Emergency Library is a collection of books that support emergency remote teaching, research activities, independent scholarship, and intellectual stimulation while universities, schools, training centers, and libraries are closed. Users can check out up to 10 books at a time.’

The extension of access in this way will have a major impact on researchers and students in the UK. Post Covid-19, it may change forever the pattern of teaching and learning in UCL away from a blended learning approach to one where digital initiatives predominate.

In the coming weeks, university libraries should be able to make more progress in getting supportive publishers to offer free access, but these things take time. Covid-19 is a terrible threat, but it is also an opportunity – to re-model research and educational support. Let’s not waste the opportunity to learn from the current disaster.

The full list of additional resources is available on the E-resources with temporary Access during Covid-19 Library Guide.

Please also read UCL’s Covid-19 advice for students and staff.