Using electronic legal deposit material at the National Library

A guide for registered readers

The National Library of Scotland has the legal right to collect, store, preserve and give access to the nation's memory in the digital age.

Legal deposit content includes online articles, books and websites.


What is available

We collect a mixture of electronic content, including e-books and journal articles, as well as archived websites from the UK domain web archive — all '.uk', plus '.scot' and some '.com', etc.

Social media content, such as from Twitter and Facebook, is part of the legislation, and therefore legal deposit libraries can collect them.

Not included by the regulations are:

  • Private messages in Twitter and Facebook
  • The content of pure video streaming sites, such as YouTube
  • Recorded sound and film.


Can I access this material?

Who: Anyone who registers with the National Library has access to electronic legal deposit material.

Where: You can access the material in our reading rooms on George IV Bridge, in the Maps Reading Room at our Causewayside building in Edinburgh, and at Kelvin Hall in Glasgow. You cannot access this material from home or via your own laptop on Library premises, or on our Edinburgh Visitor Centre computers.

Only one person at a time can view each item, and there is no time limit set (within a day) for how long you can consult an item.

Items are available on a 'first come, first served' basis. As the content increases, we will monitor readers' satisfaction with the electronic legal deposit service.

How: Archived websites are available via a secure portal. Other electronic legal deposit material is available via the main catalogue. For access to journal articles, choose the 'e-articles (legal deposit)' option from the 'quick limits' dropdown menu. Other legal deposit material is indicated by a prompt in the catalogue record for each item asking you to accept the legal deposit terms of access and use.


How many articles can I access in a day?

There is no limit to the number of electronic items that can be accessed in a day.


How can I access the harvested websites?

Archived websites are available via a secure web archive portal. As with other e-legal deposit material, access is restricted to the legal deposit libraries' reading rooms.

Sites are archived on an annual basis, with access available around 12 months after harvesting.

You can also view archived websites on the UK Web Archive that that we have been given permission to provide without restrictions.


Can I print out material that I have viewed?

Yes, you can print material. Enquiry staff in the reading rooms can advise you on printing limits.

Anyone viewing an item needs to accept the terms and conditions governing use of the material, which includes copyright regulations in relation to printing.

We monitor printing to ensure there are no contraventions of the copyright regulations.


Can I save the material to a memory stick?

No, the regulations do not permit downloading.


Can I take a photograph of the item on the screen?

No, the use of cameras (including camera phones) to make copies from electronic legal deposit material is not permitted.


If I need further help, who should I contact?

You can ask enquiry staff who are available in the reading rooms if you need more information.


Electronic legal deposit


Legal deposit main page

Speak me