A Day in the Life of a Brazilian Court Librarian

COVID-19 Reports on Latin America and the Caribbean: No. 13 (Em Português)

Please note that several judicial websites in Brazil are no longer accessible from aboard because of cyber attacks reported early November. Therefore, a few of the links in our report might not work. We apologize for this inconvenience.

1. What is a typical day like as a Brazilian court librarian during this pandemic?

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the library staff of the Regional Federal Court of the 1st Region immediately started to work-from-home. Only the services related to the loaning and distribution of books and, of course, the physical access to the library were impaired. Most of the technical activities can be carried out through the internet, for example, the management of the physical collection by the Pergamum and management of the Digital Library by Dspace. The use of the Microsoft Office Teams platform was essential in the administrative management of the library; in conducting internal meetings; and also in providing the research requested by the judges’ chambers. Like any change, adapting initially was difficult, even by the lack of human contact with co-workers and users, but the difficulties were gradually overcome. Since October 4th, we have been working on a rotating basis with 25% capacity. So, a typical day for a court librarian is working exclusively from home with the support of various technological resources, in order to keep the library running and fulfilling its institutional function.

2. What is the best way to monitor COVID-19 cases or lawsuits in Brazil?

Brazil is experiencing a phenomenon of hyper-judicilization, which is related to the substantial explosion of lawsuits experienced by the country. Thanks to technologies in use in the Judiciary, such as Microsoft Business Intelligence, the National Council of Justice (CNJ) (the public institution responsible for the control and administrative and procedural transparency of the Brazilian Judiciary) is monitoring the judicial demand related to COVID-19 and indicates that more than 223,000 cases related to COVID-19 are being processed in Brazil. 

3. What are your top go to websites to find Brazilian legal information during COVID-19?

Without a doubt, I consider the website of the National Council of Justice (CNJ) to be one of the most important. In this portal, you can find news updates, weekly data on infections/deaths, and the condition in the prison and socio-educational system.  Also, information from 62 labor courts about compliance of regulations created due to the pandemic, the judicial demand due to coronavirus, and the productivity of the courts.

Regarding the Brazilian legal bibliography related to COVID-19, the best source of information is the Virtual Library Network – RVBI, which is a cooperative of libraries coordinated by the Federal Senate Library.

4. Have there been any interesting COVID-19 laws that you want to highlight?

The Federal Constitution of Brazil states that it is the duty of the State to establish social policies that guarantee the reduction of the risk of diseases (art. 196). This duty was regulated by Law No. 8,080/90, art. 15, XIII: “to meet collective, urgent and transitory needs arising from situations of imminent danger, public calamity or outbreak of epidemics, the competent authority of the corresponding administrative sphere may request goods and services, both from natural persons and legal entities, being assured fair compensation”. Following this principle, the Federal Government of Brazil periodically published new rules for different reasons in response to the pandemic in Brazil.  For example, after Law No. 13,979/2020 was passed on February 6, 2020, Law No. 13,982/2020 was passed on April 2, 2020, and “establishes exceptional social protection measures to be adopted during this important international public health emergency period resulting from the 2019 outbreak caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19).” It is about a financial benefit to guarantee a minimum salary to Brazilians in vulnerable situations during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many economic activities have been gravely impacted by the crisis. According to the World Bank’s chief economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, Martín Rama, “emergency aid in Brazil has played a very important role in containing the economic damage of the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Brazil.”  

On November 12th, Ordinance No. 518 again restricts entry of foreigners of any nationality into the country, by road and other means on land, and by water transport, but not by air, for a period of thirty days.  With regards to sports, Law No. 14,073/2020 defines several emergency actions, such as the prioritizing of sport activities that can be transmitted over the internet or are available through social media platforms or virtual media.  

Regarding vaccines, Provisional Measure No. 1,003 of September 24, 2020 authorizes the federal executive branch to adhere to the COVID-19 Global Vaccine Access Instrument – COVAX Facility. This adherence will allow Brazil to have, among its options, at least nine vaccines under development.

By Marilia Mello and Abby Dos Santos

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