Date: November 30, 2010
In Case of Emergency: Implementing Disaster Clauses in Publisher Contracts
What can libraries do to ensure service continuity to displaced users after a natural disaster? What processes can be put into place to ensure that faculty, students, researchers and healthcare providers maintain access to medical resources so critically needed at such an urgent time?
In April 2010, the National Library of Medicine (NLM) contacted a Regional Medical Library to request such emergency assistance. The Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library, (HAM-TMC Library) located in Houston, TX, was called upon to implement a natural disaster clause it included in one of its largest publisher contracts, with John Wiley & Sons (Wiley). HAM-TMC Library, with permission and translation assistance from Wiley, immediately began efforts to support Chilean research fellows at NLM, whose country region had just been hit with an earthquake.
On February 27, 2010, 3:30pm local time, an 8.8 magnitude earthquake hit the Maule region of Chile, 200 miles south of the capital city of Santiago. The epicenter was located 70 miles north of the city of Concepcion. Over 700 people in the region were killed and over 2million displaced from their homes. University campuses in the region, particularly in Concepcion and the nearby city of Talca, were severely damaged, leaving faculty, students and researchers with little or no means of accessing online resources.
Communications between Wiley, NLM and the Library discussed the Universities’ situation and the means of setting up emergency access. By July 14, Universidad de Talca requested direct assistance from the HAM-TMC Library. The Library set up an individual user group within their proxy server so University de Talca users could register for a username and password by which they would be authenticated. The users were then authorized to access full text within any and all Wiley resources subscribed to by the Library, via the Library’s website. The Universidad’s special user account will remain active for 180 days, until 2/10/2011.
These efforts by the HAM-TMC Library provided evidence that having natural disaster clauses should be considered a standard license provision in all publisher contracts. This library’s exercise of working closely with a publisher-in the wake of a natural disaster-met the worthwhile goal of realizing what obstacles to anticipate and overcome to ensure service continuity to all users, wherever they may be.