By law, a copy of every UK print publication must be given to the British Library by its publishers, and to five other major libraries that request it. This system is called legal deposit and has been a part of English law since 1662.
From 6 April 2013, legal deposit also covers material published electronically, so that the Legal Deposit Libraries can maintain a national collection of e-journals, e-books, digitally published news, magazines and other types of content.
With the exception until 31 March 2014 of works published by new start-up businesses or microbusinesses of fewer than 10 employees, the British Library is entitled to delivery, free of charge, of one copy of every work published or distributed in the UK, within one month beginning with the day of its publication. The copy deposited must be of a quality most suitable for preservation of the work. The British Library will issue a receipt for every work deposited.
For works which are substantially the same but published in both print and electronic media, only one medium is subject to deposit; a publisher should continue depositing print, until both the publisher and the deposit libraries mutually agree to transfer to depositing electronically.
For electronic publications in more than one format, it may be necessary to agree which format should be deposited.
A publisher must also deliver a copy of any computer programs, tools, manuals and information—such as metadata, login details, and a means of removing individual DRM technical protection measures—that are necessary for using and preserving the publication. The Legal Deposit Libraries have separate security arrangements restricting the use of deposited material to just those activities that are permitted by the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013.
Copies for the British Library should be delivered to:
Digital Processing Team
The British Library
Tel: +44 (0)1937 546060 (Customer Services)
With the exception until 31 March 2014 of works published by new start-up businesses or microbusinesses of fewer than 10 employees, the Bodleian Libraries, Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales and the Library of Trinity College Dublin are each entitled to delivery, free of charge, of one copy of every work published or distributed in the UK that they request.
- The request must be made in writing (whether sent by electronic or other means) no later than 12 months after the day of the work’s publication. The request may be made before publication and may include all future numbers or parts of an encyclopaedia, newspaper, magazine, journal or other work.
- The deposited copy must be delivered within one month of the day of publication or the day on which the request is received, whichever is later.
- The deposited copy must be of a quality most suitable for preservation of the work.
Copies for these Legal Deposit Libraries must be delivered to a specified address. For many years, they have shared an agent for requesting and taking receipt of deposited works:
Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
Tel: +44 (0)131 623 4680