Legal deposit libraries' collection development

Objectives for 2013-2014

Overall, the legal deposit libraries aim to ensure that the nation's published output is collected systematically, and as comprehensively as possible.

However for practical purposes the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print) Regulations 2013 will be implemented gradually and progressively over several years.

The following collection development objectives will apply during the first one to two years after the regulations come into effect in April 2013.


CD-ROM and other 'offline' publications

In practice, most publishers of such works have already been depositing them under a long-established voluntary code of practice, the provisions of which are similar to those in the regulations.

Therefore, although shifting from a voluntary to a statutory basis for deposit, no significant practical change or impact is anticipated.


Websites and web pages

On behalf of the deposit libraries, the British Library will archive copies of freely accessible UK websites and web pages from the open web, using an automated crawling or harvesting process.

  • A 'snapshot' of every website within scope — currently estimated at around 4.8 million active sites — will be archived at least once a year.
  • Certain websites within scope — perhaps up to 500, but unlikely to exceed 250 — will be archived on a more frequent basis such as quarterly, monthly, weekly or even daily, to ensure that rapidly changing or updated content is recorded adequately. Such websites will be selected qualitatively for their importance and research value, with the crawl frequency being adapted to the circumstances and nature of the content.
  • In addition, the legal deposit libraries envisage crawling other selected websites within 'special collections'. Perhaps four or five new collections will be developed each year, defined qualitatively by important events (which may involve crawling specific websites relatively frequently for a limited period) or by important themes (which may involve crawling selected websites regularly over a longer period).


The regulations presume library harvesting as the default means of delivery, but also cover mutual agreements between individual publishers and libraries for alternative means of delivery:

  • A secure upload facility will be made available for any publisher wishing to deliver their material for deposit
  • In 2013-2014, on behalf of the deposit libraries the British Library anticipates approaching 200-300 UK publishers of journals in PDF, RTF, Microsoft Word and other non-XML formats
  • Similarly, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales anticipate approaching some Scottish and Welsh publishers of titles in non-XML formats
  • The British Library has contracted Portico to provide a receipt and delivery service for any publisher agreeing to deposit scholarly e-journals in XML or SGML formats. On behalf of the deposit libraries, the British Library will seek to make deposit agreements in 2013 with approximately five publishers for 1,000 journal titles, increasing to perhaps 10-15 publishers and 2,500-2,600 journal titles overall in 2014.


The British Library has developed a pilot process for taking deposit of books published in ePub format. It plans to scale this up for greater volumes during the year.

Publishers may agree to deposit titles directly with the British Library, for all the deposit libraries, via the secure upload facility, or they  may authorise their distributor, wholesaler, retailer or another third party to deposit on their behalf.

  • Publishers may deposit books, documents and other monographs with the British Library in PDF, Microsoft Word, RTF, ePub or other generic formats using the secure upload facility
  • In 2013-2014, on behalf of the deposit libraries, the British Library anticipates approaching approximately 25 large UK book publishers, focusing mainly on scholarly research-level titles, with a view to agreeing arrangements and implementing a deposit process for all new titles published in the ePub format
  • Similarly, the National Libraries of Scotland and Wales anticipate approaching some Scottish and Welsh publishers of e-book titles in ePub or other formats.

Digitally published newspapers and magazines

Websites with rapidly changing or updated content need to be crawled on a more regular and frequent basis, up to daily, if their content is to be recorded adequately through a harvesting process.

As stated above, the British Library anticipates selecting initially about 250 such websites in 2013-2014, for focused crawling at a frequency appropriate to the rate at which content is updated.

Separately, the British Library and representatives of the newspaper publishing industry are discussing potential joint initiatives that could involve depositing and archiving digitally published news and copies of the 'pre-print PDF' files used to print newspapers.


Other electronic publications

Other types of publication will be collected on an experimental basis, from individual publishers who are prepared to support development work on new or improved ingest capabilities. However it is not planned to approach publishers for such publications at any scale during 2013-2014.

The legal deposit libraries will always try to accommodate individual publishers who approach a deposit library for agreement to begin depositing their electronic publications, provided that the content is of a type and format that they can process and provided that any transition from print deposit to digital deposit (if relevant) is agreed and properly co-ordinated.

However it may sometimes be necessary to postpone individual publisher requests if the libraries are not yet able to deal with their content because of technical constraints, operational (processing) difficulties or financial and resourcing considerations.


Electronic legal deposit


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