Legal deposits can be confusing for self-publishing authors. Most authors know they need to send copies of their books to the copyright libraries, but don’t know how or where to send them. Some of the information out there is quite confusing and not very user-friendly. To make your lives easier, we’ve spoken to the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries and they’ve given us the low-down. So here is absolutely everything you need to know, as a self-publishing author, about legal deposit libraries in the UK.
What is legal deposit?
The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 (UK) and the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000 (Ireland) make it obligatory for publishers and distributors in the United Kingdom and Ireland to deposit their publications. This means that whenever you publish a book, you are obliged by law to deposit your publication in the six legal deposit libraries. These libraries collectively maintain the national published archive of the British Isles. The principle of legal deposit has been well established for nearly four centuries.
What do I get out of this?
The legal deposit system has benefits for both authors and publishers:
- Deposited publications are made available to users of the deposit libraries. They are preserved for the benefit of future generations, and become part of the nation’s heritage.
- Publications are recorded in the online catalogues, and become an essential research resource for generations to come.
- Most of the books and new serial titles are listed in the British National Bibliography (BNB), which is used by librarians and the book trade for stock selection. The BNB is available on CD-ROM in MARC Exchange formats, and has a worldwide distribution.
- If you lose all copies of your publication(s), you can go to the deposit libraries and ask them for a copy.
- Your publications provide inspiration and source material for new books that will eventually achieve publication.
What is the Agency for legal deposit libraries?
The Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries (ALDL) requests and receives copies of publications for distribution to five major libraries (i.e. all but the British Library).
The five libraries involved are:
- Bodleian Libraries of the University of Oxford
- Cambridge University Library
- National Library of Scotland
- Library of Trinity College, Dublin
- National Library of Wales.
These libraries have the right to request materials from publishers in terms of legal deposit legislation.
The British Library is also a legal deposit library, but has an automatic right to receive legal deposit materials.
Who has to deposit the books?
All publishers, that means you, too, because you are a self-publishing author.
What is the process self-published authors need to follow?
Step 1: when your book is published, make sure you order 6 extra copies
Step 2: you have to send 5 of those copies to the Agency for legal deposit and 1 to the British Library. You will also need to include a cover letter, giving the title, ISBN and your contact information. Address details below:
British Library’s Legal Deposit Office
On their website you will see that it’s free of charge. Now, before you jump for joy, that means free of charge for thém, not you. You have to pay all costs of sending the packages, howevere there is no additional fee.