A new Grey Literature & Era Emerge with Academic Library Responses to COVID-19: Defining Moment for Open Science

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A new Grey Literature & Era Emerge with Academic Library Responses to COVID-19: Defining Moment for Open Science
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As libraries worldwide confront how to make their resources available to users when their physical spaces were locked down as the Coronavirus challenged safety and wellbeing for the public to visit, conversations around "openness" escalated. Open Science manages to be ahead of the curve as the majority of library users find the journal literature in STEM fields increasingly available but not always open. Other forms of information, particularly books and data, grey literature and video content remain behind paywalls and subscription models. As fast changes occur forcing libraries to augment their collections to meet more intense online needs for at least one quarter of this calendar year, it is a time of reckoning to identify priorities for immediate acquisition and licensing. Publishers, societies and information providers stepped up to open their inventories to libraries worldwide and to reduce the demands on non-functioning traditional interlibrary loan services. This generosity aided students with online textbooks, conducted laboratory learning with different resources, relying on more streaming media, activating online access for materials only held in print, and filled gaps for researchers seeking specialized information to respond to added calls for new supplies and products to fight the spread of the virus. The "shower of benevolence" has constrained human resources in addressing how best to curate and promote this open frontier of largesse that may not be part of any permanent collection. Standards and specifications are resources that are high in demand, as innovation, entrepreneurship and fabrication kick into a fast track to produce facial masks, medical gowns, respirators, ventilators, and other breathing devices needed by health care workers and patients. Information about the relationships of COVID-19 to other science conditions such as pollution, air quality, transportation logistics, and supply chains challenge all protocols for social distancing and human interactions. Library collections have multiplied as the roster of new free content proliferates however short term. The demand for alternative digital resources spawned new and temporary grey solutions delivering large collections of content still under copyright while libraries' physical collections are inaccessible. Two contrasting resources emerged: 1) the HathiTrust.org Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS). The HathiTrust opened up copyrighted material in the HathiTrust digital library to readers at member institutions with copies of those items in their physical collections. Millions of digitized books available through HathiTrust, which are also in libraries' collections are now available online to those affiliates via authentication. 2) in another more challenging activity is the emotional response the Authors' Guild made to the Internet Archive, which launched the National Emergency Library to offer free access to millions of in-copyright works. Perceptions of content outside of the sciences have welcomed these transformative albeit controversial challenges to copyright by making humanities and social science literature more digitally available as preferences for print are more pronounced in those disciplines. Additional transitions promoting open science and more generally open access includes how the sharing of information as conferences are postponed or cancelled require other creative ways to engage in professional discourse, information transfer and exchanges. Hosting virtual meetings has associated costs, requires new technologies and cloud storage, and requires different planning strategies to execute and scale accordingly with access to the varied content. This new normal, whether temporary or more permanent is an added challenge to grey literature as access expands to the general public in a more open reach. This paper, US centric, will explore a new openness in how libraries have accepted these unprecedented challenges and responded to meeting users' needs on a constantly changing continuum trying to be as disruption free as possible. A survey will be administered to determine how academic libraries have fared through this time and to determine what impact these changes will have on future library priorities, collections and services. The foundations of Open Science secured a baseline for publishers to partner with the library community and provide access to content not as universally available but became open for this juncture. COVID-19 is an unwanted catalyst that expanded the boundaries about how far open science can stretch in this unexpected environment libraries currently navigate.