Using electronic legal deposit material at NLS

A guide for registered readers

Regulations introduced in April 2013 give the National Library of Scotland and the other UK legal deposit libraries the legal right to collect, store and preserve the nation's memory in the digital age. The content includes online articles and books, and websites.


What became available after April 2013

A mixture of electronic content became available after April 2013, including journal articles, websites in the UK domain web archive, and articles / chapters from e-books and e-journals.

It takes time to collect and process this kind of material, so it is not available immediately. At NLS we will make electronic legal deposit material accessible as soon as we can. It is expected to take at least nine months to collect and collate all UK domain websites.

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: The regulations only allow deposited electronic material to be viewed on computers within the reading rooms of the UK legal deposit libraries. This means you can access these items in a deposit library if you have registered to use that library's reading rooms.

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

How: Use the search service on our reading rooms computers to access material. To limit your search to electronic legal deposit material, use 'Select Collection' from the right hand menu and then choose 'Electronic legal deposit' from the dropdown list.

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 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?

Harvesting and processing the whole UK domain can take many months. As with other e-legal deposit material, this content is only accessible from legal deposit libraries' reading rooms via a secure web archive portal.

You can also view websites that have been harvested on a voluntary basis on the UK Web Archive and the Internet Archive.



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

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