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Electronic Legal Deposit

The history of UK legal deposit

The Library of Trinity College Dublin is a Legal Deposit Library.  This entitles the Library by law to receive a copy of every item published in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Other UK Legal Deposit Libraries that enjoy this privilege include the British Librarythe Bodleian Libraries (University of Oxford), Cambridge University Library, the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales.

Legal Deposit has existed since 1662 and was established in Trinity College Dublin in 1801. It has helped the Library to amass a vast collection of books, journals and other printed items which are of great value to researchers. Of course, the Library also purchases many items including research materials from overseas and extra copies of key works published in the UK and Ireland. However, Legal Deposit legislation has allowed the Library to receive many items which would not otherwise be available in Trinity College Dublin.

Legal Deposit has historically only covered printed items. However, in 2003 new legislation was passed which extended legal deposit to electronic publications and it came into force in April 2013.  The Library therefore only started to receive electronic material via Legal Deposit in 2013. The Library also has many subscriptions to e-journals and e-books and so you will find many electronic items in our collections besides those that we receive under UK electronic Legal Deposit.

How is UK eLD material collected and stored?

Items deposited under UK electronic Legal Deposit (UK eLD) are collected from publishers or self-submitted via an online portal and then processed at the British Library. The digital objects themselves (e.g. PDFs for journal articles, e-books in epub format etc.) are stored on specially-commissioned servers at the British Library datacentres in London and Yorkshire and replicated to similar nodes at the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales.

Metadata (i.e. catalogue records) for the ingested items is then made available to the Legal Deposit Libraries to be incorporated and indexed in their local discovery services. At Trinity, new records for UK eLD items are added to Stella Search on a regular basis via a process which checks the British Library servers for new metadata and processes the records accordingly.

When a UK eLD item in Stella Search is viewed it is via the British Library's secure delivery mechanism which ensures that access and use complies with the relevant legislative requirements.