We thank publishers for their willingness to open up access to institutions and their users during the COVID-19 lockdown period. We would encourage you to consider the following guidelines in the areas of access and discovery to make the process as simple as possible for librarians who are working from home and having to share information on availability of titles with their remote users.
- Create a single Coronavirus page for your website
Include a clear statement outlining your entire offering with direct links to products and services. Include a minimum end date indicating when the offer will cease, even if this date may later be extended. If libraries need to request access to content, give a clear statement of how to submit a request.
- Provide a simple login process
If access is limited to institutional users and a login is needed, make use of existing authentication systems, such as Shibboleth or Open Athens as they will be already configured by most institutions. Enable the release of standard attributes as recommended by the UK Access Management Federation, including the TargetedID and PrincipalName.
If access needs to be limited to groups rather than a whole institution, specific links that can be embedded in a VLE module would be a workable solution. Please liaise with your institutional contacts to offer this option.
UPDATE: If you are reviewing your login process as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic, or generally, these 10 UX recommendations for improved access to content compiled by OpenAthens’ UX designer, Vee Rogacheva, provide succint and clear guidance. Implementation would be particularly beneficial to students and researchers during the epidemic, as well as the libraries having to support users to navigate their way through the confusing multitude of login routes in use.
- Support seamless access to textbooks
If access needs to be limited to specific users, please allow individual users to sign up using their university email address only in order to gain access to their own specific textbooks.
Please post a link to your Privacy and GDPR policy on your Coronavirus page concerning use of individual email addresses to reassure individuals and institutions of what you will use their email addresses for, and for how long. Please also ensure that any end user agreement signed by users creating accounts, is clear about data privacy terms.
Please note that the provision of individual email addresses is of concern to institutions and will be a barrier to some institutions taking advantage of your offer.
- Enable easy discovery and administration
For discovery systems / knowledgebase providers, we recommend separate collections or packages of free content offers, labelled clearly as being made available for the period of the Coronavirus crisis. This makes it easier for library staff to quickly activate or deactivate whole collections, without making changes to their subscribed knowledgebase collections. It also makes it possible to flag ‘temporary access’ content in discovery systems.
For example, if Publisher X makes their “Full collection” available, duplicate and re-label the package as “Full collection for coronavirus crisis” in the knowledgebase.
- Liaise directly with libraries if you wish to discuss future sales
If you wish to offer any information captured as a result of the free access period (evidence of engagement, usage and title selection), this should be collated and made available to the institutional lead (e.g. Library or Faculty) as part of an exit agreement, or discussion around procurement. Please do not target users directly to achieve sell-through.