National Library of Latvia touted as example of ensuring e-services through crisis

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An European institution has touted the National Library of Latvia (LNB) as an excellent example in ensuring online accessibility during the Covid-19 crisis.

Specifically, the European Bureau of Library Information and Documentation Associations (EBLIDA) has drawn up a report summing up the experience of libraries in 17 European countries facing the crisis. The document was created in response the call for solidarity launched by the UN Secretary general, Mr António Guterres, on 19th March 2020. 

LNB representatives told the press that the crisis time has allowed libraries to promote their online tools and digital collections, which have seen an increase of 1000% to 1500% in some countries on year. "To increase the offer of collections and databases that are accessible only on-site in the library, the quality of relations between libraries and the ministry in charge are of utmost importance," the library said.

The report names Latvia's national library as the only one in Europe which was able to ensure access to what are usually on-site databases, namely the press collection, which spans works from 1748 to the present day, as well as a portal to read books that are no longer sold in bookstores.

"Only the National Library of Latvia managed to come to an agreement with the Latvian Copyright and Communication Agency and the Latvian Authors’ Association in relation to the offer of e-periodicals and e-books," the report says. 

Another example the EBLIDA mentions is the cooperation between LNB and the Ministry of Culture in making recommendations for public libraries to provide services in emergency situations to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

The report also mentions the ministry's information campaign #Ēkultūra (#E-Culture), which invites the public to enjoy various cultural events online during the Covid-19 emergency situation, and to use available e-services in the field of culture without visiting the institutions on-site.

But the report also sounds a cautious note, suggesting that continued access to the aforementioned material is unlikely. "It is possible that some of the clauses normally limiting access to e-publications will be lifted after the emergency, but there is little hope that the pre-emergency [..] agreement will significantly change in the future."

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