Bid to preserve electronic publications

A Private Member's Bill is due to be proposed at Westminster in March which will ensure that electronic and non-print material will become part of the national published archive which otherwise could be lost from public record forever.

Websites, E-journals, CD-ROMs and DVDs are among the publishing formats not currently covered by legal deposit legislation - which means that they cannot legally be claimed by the UK and Irish legal deposit libraries, such as the National Library of Scotland. With the number of electronic journals alone in the UK expected to reach 193,000 by 2005 - compared with 52,000 in 2002 - there is a clear risk of valuable information being lost to researchers now and in the future from these and other non-print sources.

A campaign in support of MP Chris Mole's bid to extend the legal deposit privilege has been organised by the British Library on behalf of all the legal deposit libraries and the publisher trade bodies. Martyn Wade, National Librarian of the National Library of Scotland, said: 'This [Bill] would be a huge leap in terms of protecting material for the future. If, in centuries ahead, people are to receive a comprehensive and accessible picture of the 21st century then this large and ever-increasing element of published information must become part of the legal deposit material.' The Library will be lobbying Westminster MPs to back the Bill.

For further details, including extensive background notes, please see our press release. You can find out how to help the campaign on the British Library's website at

12 February 2003

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