LOS ANGELES — It’s no secret that the cost of textbooks can be expensive for college students like Kian Ravaei, who up until the COVID-19 pandemic, relied on the University of California, Los Angeles’ campus resources.
“I definitely spent a lot of time in the library on-campus. At times, I would use the library course reserves instead of buying my own textbook,” Ravaei said.
When the COVID-19 restrictions slowly closed UCLA and other college campuses last March, Kian began to wonder what the lack of access to libraries would mean for students like him.
“We don’t have the opportunity to go to the library in-person and check out books because its closed, so there are tons of books just stuck behind glass doors right now,” Ravaei said.
That is until he learned about HathiTrust Digital Library’s Emergency Temporary Access Service that went into effect in late March. The nonprofit library’s service provides free access to more than seven million digital versions of copyrighted material and prints students would normally find in a smaller quantity in the UCLA library.
In over a decade, the non-profit preserved more than 17 million items for future digital access.
Alison Scott works with the UCLA Library. She said the service provides three times the amount of content that fills the entire library at UCLA. She also had no idea that the pandemic would be the first time that the service would be widely used and needed.
More than 170 campuses in the U.S. and Canada are using ETAS to connect millions of library users, according to HathiTrust Digital Library.
“The steps we’ve been able to take have really given us a lot more ability to meet the needs of our researchers, teachers and learners during this crisis,” Alison Scott, Associate University Librarian for Collection Management & Scholarly Communication at the UCLA Library, said.
While the ETAS will only be available online during the Pandemic, Ravaei said he can already see the value of this service for next quarter.
“It really feels like I have all this knowledge at my fingertips,” Ravaei said.
Ravaei remains hopeful that the ETAS will help him gain access to the library’s resources he would normally have until he can get back on campus again.