The COVID-19 crisis has had a major impact on vendors in the library technology industry. The operations of these organizations have seen major disruption consistent with those in other business and governmental sectors throughout the world.
Library vendors, like the libraries they serve and companies in other business sectors, have shifted their operations to a mostly work-from-home model. Almost all support services and software development continue in this manner. Most were well prepared to make this change since it is quite common in this vendor community to have significant portions of personnel working remotely.
There have not been major service interruptions, gaps in support, or other widespread disruptions of the critical systems during this period. It will be important to assess any major failures that may have occurred, but overall, it seems that most vendors were able to respond adequately to this crisis and had contingency and continuity-of-business planning in place. Beyond continuity of existing services and support, most of the library technology vendors have taken proactive measures to assist their library customers in dealing with the crisis. Some have created coronavirus-related resources or other services of special interest to the general public, health care workers, or researchers. Some have provided additional access to general content resources to library patrons to compensate for shuttered print collections.
Many of the organizations in the library industry have announced their responses to the current crisis. These should be taken as example of vendor responses and not a comprehensive representation. Some companies may have communicated their responses only within their customers without making public announcements.
EBSCO Information Services
EBSCO is especially well positioned to provide resources related to COVID-19 and the coronavirus through its EBSCO Health division. The company has assembled a new COVID- 19 Updates and Information Portal, aggregating a wide variety of resources and data. The portal is designed for the general public, healthcare professionals, and for research and health information professionals. The portal includes resources from relevant agencies such as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and other governmental and non-governmental organizations, as well as related EBSCO Health resources. The COVID-19 portal was created in collaboration with its Stacks division, which provides its technical infrastructure. EBSCO has also opened access for non-subscribers to its COVID-19 clinical topic within its DynaMed clinical decision support tool. (See https://covid-19. ebscomedical.com)
ProQuest has created a cross-disciplinary Coronavirus Research Database that aggregates relevant content from multiple STM publishers, including Springer Nature, BioMed Central, PLOS, BMJ, and Taylor & Francis. This database will be made available to all libraries currently using the ProQuest Platform without additional cost. The database includes journal articles, conference proceedings, dissertations, and preprints on relevant topics. In collaboration with more than 50 publishers, ProQuest is offering unlimited access for library patrons to Ebook Central holdings without additional cost. Items within a library's collection from these publishers restricted to one or three simultaneous users will automatically be extended to unlimited use during this period. Easing these restrictions will help libraries meet demand for ebooks while their print collections are not available. ProQuest anticipates that the number of publishers authorizing these license changes will expand beyond the initial list. Ex Libris Ex Libris, through its research services division, is providing open access to coverage related to coronavirus from Research Professional and Pivot. Research Professional publishes news articles and opinion related to academic research and funding opportunities, mostly from a European perspective. Pivot is a set of databases and tools for research funding and collaboration opportunities. (See: https://www.researchprofessionalnews .com/covid-19-funding-opportunities)
Innovative Interfaces, Inc.
Innovative Interfaces, now owned by ProQuest, has taken multiple measures to assist its customer libraries to deal with issues related to the pandemic. Resources provided included procedures for suspending operations from physical facilities for each of its ILS products, Sierra, Millennium, Polaris, and Virtua.
Innovative is offering free webinars on related topics, including, “Sierra & Millennium Resources to Close Physical Locations.” The company's support team has also released scripts for related tasks, such as for batch update for requested items on hold shelves prior to closing and for extending the “not needed after” dates for requested items.
Innovative affirms its commitment to the health and safety of its employees and customers. The company will fulfill its commitments for support and professional services with most employees working from home. It has tested its ability to perform the needed tasks without compromising security. (See: https://www.iii.com/blog/innovative-business-update-on -coronavirus-covid-19)
SirsiDynix has focused primarily on providing free access to relevant training opportunities, which may be especially helpful as libraries make abrupt changes to their systems in response to COVID-19 related closures. The company has made its entire Mentor catalog of self-paced online training available to all its customers. The company is offering free access to selected instructor led training classes through its SirsiDynix Support Center. SirsiDynix has conducted multiple webinars in support of libraries using its products. (See: https://www.sirsidynix.com/covid-19-resources)
OCLC has assembled a website providing an extensive array of resources to help libraries respond to the COVID-19 crisis (https://www.oclc.org/en/covid-19.html). These resources include guides related to its WorldCat Interlibrary Loan service for optimizing access to electronic resources while most libraries remain closed. OCLC has created new COVID-19 profile groups identifying libraries able to fulfill requests for articles and those able to full requests for entire e-books.
OCLC has assembled a list of free online resources related to coronavirus research from content providers. For users of WorldShare Management Services, OCLC has deployed a service for bulk renewal of items on loan. OCLC has created “service configuration cheat sheets” for all of its products that provide guidance in making configuration changes or other actions anticipated for library response to changes in their services due to the crisis.
OCLC also offers training opportunities and discussion forums where libraries can communicate and collaborate in their responses to the crisis. These are made available through the OCLC Community Center portal for its customers as well as the WebJunction portal for public libraries.
Follett Corporation has extended a variety of offers in support of educators and libraries during the COVID-19 crisis. Follett School Solutions created a resource portal highlighting its eLearning solutions, which will be of interest to schools moving to online learning. This division is also making its Classroom Ready Collections of standards-aligned open educational resources (OER) available to Destiny customers without additional cost.
The Follett Higher Education Group, which manages college bookstores and provides courseware and content, is offering free ebook access to students enrolled in campuses where it manages physical or virtual bookstores. Each student can access up to seven ebooks through this program. Follett is also waiving shipping charges for orders of course materials and merchandise placed through its efollett.com ecommerce portal. Lumen Learning, one of Follett's business partners, is offering free access to its OER courseware platform to assist educators as they transition to remote teaching while schools are closed.
The Koha development and support community expedited development of new features to enable libraries to perform global updates of due dates for items borrowed or requested. ByWater Solutions is developing new API integrations for digital resources from Hoopla, which will complement existing connections already available for Overdrive, Recorded Books, and cloudLibrary.
Galacia Offers a Virtual Services Platform for Libraries
The Galacia Group has assembled a suite of services to assist libraries with providing virtual services. These tools help library staff working from home communicate efficiently among themselves and provide selected services to patrons. The suite of recommended utilities includes Zoom for teleconferencing among staff and with patrons, ZenDesk for tracking support requests, Slack for team communications, and Rescue for remotely assisting patrons with their own devices. Galacia helps libraries implementing virtual services using these tools as part of its consulting services. (See https://galecia.com /virtual).