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Legal Library Deposit


The Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries operates on behalf of five of the UK's designated deposit libraries:

The agency has moved from 161 Causewayside, Edinburgh.

Our new address is:

Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries
Unit 21 Marnin Way
EH12 9GD

What you need to know about the agency

The Bodleian Library, 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 publication 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 'is to be of the same quality as the largest number of copies which, at the time of delivery, have been produced for publication in the United Kingdom'
  • Copies for these 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.

Complementary arrangement

The British Library's Legal Deposit Office, operating from Boston Spa, Wetherby, West Yorkshire, LS23 7BY, has responsibility for receiving legal deposit material for the British Library.

Preserving publications for the nation

Legal deposit is the statutory obligation to deposit at least one copy of every UK publication, free of charge, at the British Library and other designated deposit libraries.

This obligation has existed in English law for printed books and papers since 1662 and for electronic and other non-print publications since 6th April 2013. It helps to ensure that the nation's published output, and thereby its intellectual record and future published heritage, is collected systematically, both in order to preserve the material for the use of future generations and to make it available for readers within the designated deposit libraries.

Benefits for publishers

The legal deposit system also has benefits for authors and publishers:

  • Deposited publications are made available to users of the deposit libraries on their premises, are preserved for the benefit of future generations, and become part of the nation's heritage
  • Publications are recorded in the online catalogues, and become an essential research resource for generations to come
  • Most of the books and new serial titles are listed in the British National Bibliography (BNB),which is used by librarians and the book trade for stock selection. The BNB is available on CD-ROM in MARC Exchange formats, and has a world-wide distribution
  • Publishers have at times approached the deposit libraries for copies of their own publications which they no longer have, but which have been preserved through legal deposit
  • Legal deposit supports a cycle of knowledge, whereby deposited works provide inspiration and source material for new books that will eventually achieve publication.

Understanding the legal requirement placed on publishers

Printed publications

The default format in which publications should be deposited is print. The agency operates as a single point from which legal deposit requests and receipts are made. The agency has a responsibility to record the deposit of publications and to securely distribute that material to the five legal deposit libraries we represent.

The new agency has changed the way the operation works in terms of requesting and distributing material to legal deposit libraries. However, it does not change the legal deposit requirements that publishers in the UK and Ireland must meet.

Electronic (non-print) publications

On 6 April 2013, new regulations were introduced by the UK Parliament to permit each legal deposit library to claim and receive publications in an electronic format. However, this must be by agreement and the default format remains print until such time as an agreement is reached.

The Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries will NOT be a point of claim or receipt of electronic publications. For all enquiries or requests to deposit, email Customer Services at the British Library: customer-services@bl.uk.

The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 and Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013 apply to non-print works that are published in the UK:

  • Offline, on media such as CD-ROM, DVD-ROM or microfilm
  • Online, i.e. websites and publications made available to the public from websites. See: Websites and web pages.

However they do not apply to:

  • A work containing personal data that is only made available to restricted groups
  • A work consisting solely or predominantly of film or recorded sound (or both),where other forms of content are purely incidental. See: Recorded sound and film