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Electronic Legal Deposit

What is covered by electronic Legal Deposit?

The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 entitles the Legal Deposit libraries to either a print or an electronic copy of a text, but not to both. Following discussions between the Legal Deposit libraries and the publishers, the decision as to which format will be deposited is taken on a publisher-by-publisher basis rather than for an individual work. In other words, once a publisher begins to deposit electronic texts, all of their publications will be received in that format. As yet, a relatively small number of publishers have made the transition. This means that Legal Deposit libraries will continue to receive printed texts from many publishers for many years to come.

Currently, UK electronic Legal Deposit (UK eLD) extends to books, journals, maps, sheet music and websites published in the UK. Access to e-journals, e-books and other e-versions of traditional printed materials is via Stella Search. Access to websites published in the UK is via the UK Legal Deposit Web Archive.

What is the lifespan of electronic Legal Deposit?

It is the aim of the Legal Deposit libraries to preserve all printed and electronic Legal deposit collections and make them available in perpetuity. As time goes on and current technologies are superseded, content may have to be migrated to different formats to ensure that it remains accessible. Alternatively copies of relevant software will be retained to ensure continued access. To this end, the British Library has a digital preservation department that specifically looks at the long-term preservation and access to digital content.