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UK Electronic Legal Deposit

Our Nations' Heritage

Legal Deposit, which has existed in English law since 1662, ensures that the published output of the UK and Ireland is collected, preserved and made available within the six Legal Deposit Libraries for present and future generations.

Print publications for Legal Deposit include books, journals, sheet music, maps, plans, charts and tables. New regulations came into force on the 6th April 2013 to extend Legal Deposit to materials published electronically and on the Internet. Electronic Legal Deposit covers material published digitally such as websites, blogs, e-books, e-journals and CD-ROMs.

UK electronic Legal Deposit (UK eLD)

The six Legal Deposit Libraries are collaborating to archive and provide seamless access to electronic Legal Deposit material (eLD), with a growing collection of more than 5 million e-books and e-journal articles. This is the first time that a collaborative effort on this scale has been achieved in the UK, Ireland and internationally between major library institutions. More and more publishers are depositing electronic material, which can be accessed in each library in the same way. Electronic formats facilitate improved search capabilities within a document, which is not possible in printed publications. Material received electronically from publishers is saved in perpetuity by the Legal Deposit Libraries and can be accessed on library premises only.

Electronic Legal Deposit is also referred to as Non-Print Legal Deposit (NPLD).

In the Library of Trinity College Dublin, we are using the terminology "UK eLD" to specifically refer to electronic Legal Deposit of UK material, received under the UK legislation. At the moment, eLD does not cover Irish material under the Irish regulations.

More information on electronic Legal Deposit at the Library of Trinity College Dublin

Patron-Driven Acquisition (PDA) Scheme for Print Copies of UK eLD

The Legal Deposit Libraries recognise that access via Library PCs only (as prescribed by UK law) can be a barrier to research and that in some circumstances print is the preferred format. In Trinity's Stella Search, the UK eLD records for books currently include a link to facilitate readers making a print purchase recommendation. A successful recommendation means the print copy is added to the Library's collections and normally available for requesting within three weeks. In assessing a recommendation, the Library applies the following constraints:

  • It must come from a current Trinity researcher, student, or member of staff
  • The Library doesn't already have a print copy in its collections
  • The title (and particular edition) is available in print from one of the Library's suppliers
  • There are sufficient funds for this scheme

The Library has only very limited resources to fund this scheme. Some recommendations, particularly very expensive ones, may be rejected to maintain its sustainability. The current iteration of the scheme follows a popular pilot, but is broader in scope, embedded in the UK eLD records, and more efficient to run. It may be necessary to suspend the scheme when funds run out, and its continuation is subject to review as the Library's collection development policy evolves.