Yesterday evening, I met up with an old friend (who is also an author) for dinner. Inevitably the conversation touched upon writing and I asked whether my friend had provided print copies of his novel to the British Library and the 5 other libraries as stipulated under Legal Deposit legislation. He was unaware of Legal Deposit as (I believe) are quite a few other authors. I therefore thought it would be helpful to furnish the below information pertaining to Legal Deposit.
In the below extract, the British Library refer to the duty on publishers to furnish copies of publications to the designated libraries. In the case of most (perhaps all) self-published authors (including both my friend and I) this duty does, in practice devolve on us as authors who utilise Print on Demand or (POD) technology.
Introduction to legal deposit
Legal deposit has existed in English law since 1662. It helps to ensure that the nation’s published output (and thereby its intellectual record and future
published heritage) is collected systematically, to preserve the material for the use of future generations and to make it available for readers within
the designated legal deposit libraries.
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 digitally and online, so that the Legal Deposit Libraries can provide a national archive
of the UK’s non-print published material, such as websites, blogs, e-journals and CD-ROMs.
The Legal Deposit Libraries are:
list of 6 items
• the British Library,
• the National Library of Scotland,
• the National Library of Wales,
• the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford,
• the University Library, Cambridge, and
• the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
The legal deposit system also has benefits for authors and publishers:
list of 5 items
• 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 in a variety of
• 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
(Taken from http://www.bl.uk/aboutus/legaldeposit/introduction/)