As a result of the federal government shutdown, many resources that researchers, academics, and library patrons depend on—like the Library of Congress (LC) archives—have been rendered unavailable in the last week. The bad news is that 10 days in and with no clear end to this stalemate in sight, there’s no telling how long those resources might be on lock down. The good news is that a variety of other institutions are stepping up to fill in the gap and make sure a government shutdown doesn’t turn into an information shutdown.
Oxford University Press is offering free access to its databases during the government shutdown, meaning anyone who needs it will be able to make use of resources like Oxford Reference, American National Biography Online, and the demographics database Social Explorer. The shutdown has also closed EBSCO’s ERIC database of journal articles and government documents on education topics, prompting EBSCO to offer a free version of the service to users until the government is open for business again, though only the abstracts and indices—not the full-text articles—will be available.
The shutdown has also made workaround and archived versions of government websites all the more valuable. Over at Hangingtogether.org, LJ’s Digital Libraries blogger and OCLC’s Senior Program Officer Roy Tennant has assembled a wide range of resources that can help knowledge seekers keep moving when the government has stopped. You can read all about the project on infoDOCKET, where you’ll also find links to great, clear-eyed analysis and historical context on the shutdown and its effects.
Other government databases aren’t in full shutdown, but are still affected by it. While health and science research archive PubMed remains searchable, its content is not being updated during the shutdown.
While the shutdown has seen librarians, vendors and institutions pull together to preserve access to information, the shutdown’s effects have been more deleterious elsewhere. There was no free archive or mirror site that could save the Depository Library Council Meeting and Federal Depository Library Conference. Scheduled to begin October 21st, the staff furloughs that hit the Government Printing Office, which puts on the event, made proceeding with planning impossible. Organizers are hoping to reschedule for the spring, when the federal government will presumably be again be open for business.
The flow of research funding could be impacted by the shutdown as well. While extant grants are being fulfilled, The National Institute of Health, National Science Foundation, and Institute for Museum and Library Sciences have been forced to stop processing applications for new grants until their staffs are allowed to return to work.
Did we miss any of the ways the shutdown is affecting academic research? Probably. Let us know about other resources and workarounds you’re using, or how the shutdown has impacted your work in the comments.