Need a book from the UC Berkeley Library while we’re sheltering in place? Check here first.

Editor’s note: HathiTrust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service concludes Aug. 24, after nearly a year and a half of service at Berkeley.

The good news? You found a book that is essential to your research.

The bad news? It’s tucked away behind locked doors during the closure of the university’s Library buildings — a big but necessary step in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus.

You’re out of luck — right? Not so fast.

Starting today (April 2), UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff are able to take advantage of HathiTrust’s Emergency Temporary Access Service, a boon to the campus community during this unprecedented time. The service provides access to digital versions of millions of the physical volumes held by libraries across the 10-campus University of California system — plus UC’s two expansive off-site library storage facilities — helping the Library continue to serve its mission of teaching and learning even during the COVID-19 pandemic and the cascade of disruptions that have followed.

Here’s what you need to know about the service.

Who has access to these materials?

The materials are available to current UC Berkeley faculty, staff, and students with CalNet IDs, in keeping with HathiTrust’s terms of eligibility, to be respectful of fair use guidelines.

What materials will be available?

HathiTrust is a massive nonprofit digital repository that draws from the collections of research libraries around the nation (including the UC Berkeley Library and other libraries across the UC system). All told, HathiTrust preserves more than 17 million digital volumes. The materials that will be available to UC Berkeley Library users are all of the digital items in HathiTrust’s collections for which the UC Libraries (including NRLF and SRLF — the Northern Regional Library Facility, in Richmond, and the Southern Regional Library Facility, in Los Angeles) have a corresponding physical copy. In other words, if the UC Libraries have a book and HathiTrust has that same book in digital form, the digital version of the book will be available to Library users.

There may be some materials in the UC Libraries’ collections that are not available digitally, said Salwa Ismail, associate university librarian for digital initiatives and information technology, who worked with HathiTrust to bring the emergency service to Library users. Perhaps no one got around to digitizing a specific work, for example.

UC Berkeley Library users previously had been able to access HathiTrust’s millions of volumes that are out of copyright. The new emergency service expands upon that to include volumes from HathiTrust that are protected by copyright and are also held by the UC Libraries.

Where can I access them?

Access the treasures by going to the HathiTrust Digital Library. Click “Log In” at the top right, identify your institution as “University of California, Berkeley,” and use your CalNet ID to gain access. You can view the materials from anywhere with an internet connection — no VPN or special setup is required. 

Anything else I should know?

Patrons can view the materials but cannot keep — in this case, download — them.

The number of users who can access the same volume at the same time depends on how many physical copies the UC Libraries have. If the libraries have five copies of the same book, for example, five users can view the digital version of that book simultaneously.

Accessing a digital volume through HathiTrust comes with an hourlong time limit. That limit is automatically extended if you are actively using the book — for example, flipping (or clicking) through pages or scrolling.

Because this is an emergency service, it is temporary — it’s available only as long as the libraries’ physical volumes are locked up. But while it is in place, the service will help fill a crucial gap during a time of great need, Ismail said.

“For Berkeley faculty, students, and staff, this opens up a trove of materials,” Ismail said. “Our shelves are closed, but as long as your screens are open, you’ll have access to most of our resources.”