Libraries without walls: Even wider access to digital resources during pandemic

April 08, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a shutdown of most libraries nationwide, making their physical collections and resources largely inaccessible. In response, many libraries, including Penn State University Libraries, have increased their efforts to make their digital collections as visible and accessible as possible. These temporary resources are in addition to digital licenses the Libraries continues to purchase and add into its online catalog to support remote teaching and learning.

HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service 

Penn State faculty, staff, and students now have reading access to more than 48% of the Libraries’ print collections through the HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access Service (ETAS). Once logged in at, Penn State users can access the entire public domain corpus and temporarily have limited access to in-copyright and copyright-undetermined volumes held by the Libraries. To get started, visit:

National Emergency Library (Internet Archive)

Penn State and other libraries supported the Internet Archive’s application of the Fair Use doctrine to eliminate waitlists for the books it lends to users through the latter of June 30, or the end of the COVID-19 national emergency. The collection includes more than 1.4 million e-books from the 1920s through the 1990s that represent the interests of both academic and public library patrons. Anyone can set up an account and borrow for free for 14 days. For more information, visit:

Open Access (OA) Collections

The Libraries’ Cataloging and Metadata Services department has been working assiduously to increase the visibility and discoverability of Open Access (OA), or free-to-read, collections via the Libraries website. More than 15,000 records for OA content have been loaded over the past few months in anticipation of the need for free, open access to scholarly materials, said Jeff Edmunds, digital access coordinator. “Penn State has been on the cutting edge of making library assets as available as possible, especially now that our physical collections are largely inaccessible,” he added. 

Temporary and expanded access to vendor and publisher resources

In response to the increased need for electronic content to support teaching and research, the Libraries is taking advantage of select offers from vendors and publishers for free temporary access to resources. Resources that have been added to library collections on a temporary basis include scholarly and research publications and journal content, textbooks, e-books, video, audio, PDFs and tools for teaching and curriculum planning in a wide range of disciplines.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 08, 2020