Legal deposit

What does Legal Deposit mean for you?

Legal Deposit has existed in English law since 1662. Under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act of 2003, Bodleian Libraries is entitled to receive material published in the United Kingdom & Ireland. It has allowed the library to accumulate over the last four centuries vast and important collections.

> See also Historical Background

How can I find Legal Deposit material?

Search SOLO, Oxford's online catalogue to find an item published in the United Kingdom or Ireland.

> See also our Guide to SOLO (incl. tutorials)

Not all publishers deposit immediately on publication and the volume of items received by the Libraries means that there will inevitably be delays in entries appearing in the online catalogue. Priority for processing is given to material which is deemed to be in demand by our local academic community, and you should check SOLO in the first instance. 

What if I can't I find a UK publication in SOLO?

If you are aware of a gap in our library holdings for a British publication within 12 months of the date of publication then you are encouraged to ask for assistance from library staff first. The item may have been received and, often, it can be made available. If the item has not yet been received, you can place a book recommendation and we can request a claim to be submitted.

Legal Deposit (print publications)

The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 applies to any work published in the United Kingdom. In the case of works published in print, it covers the following categories:

  • a book (including a pamphlet, magazine or newspaper),
  • a sheet of letterpress or music,
  • a map, plan, chart or table, and
  • a part of any such work.

Every new publication and every new edition of a publication, each of which may contain corrections, amendments or additional content, is liable for deposit. However straightforward re-prints are not. In addition, publishers are not required to deposit the following categories of material unless a written demand for them is made by a Legal Deposit Library:

  • Internal reports
  • Examination papers
  • Local transport timetables
  • Appointment diaries
  • Wall and desk calendars
  • Posters

It should be noted that the requirement to deposit an item does not depend on its having been allocated an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) or Serial Number (ISSN) but on whether or not it can be considered to have been published. A work is said to have been published when copies of it are issued to the public. The place of publication or printing, the nature of the imprint and size of distribution are immaterial. It is the act of issuing or distributing to the public in the United Kingdom which renders a work liable for deposit.

Where gaps in our collection of British publications are identified claims are sent from the Bodleian Libraries Legal Deposit Operations office to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries (ALDL) which makes claims on behalf of all the Legal Deposit Libraries (except the British Library).

> See also Information for Publishers.

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Electronic/Non-print Legal Deposit

At midnight on 5/6 April 2013, legislation came into force allowing the Bodleian Libraries and the other Legal Deposit Libraries in the UK and Ireland, to access electronic books, articles, web pages and other electronic documents published in the UK.

This is the electronic equivalent of print legal deposit.

At the Bodleian Libraries we refer to this material as electronic Legal Deposit (eLD). Electronic legal deposit will provide the University, and scholars who use its libraries, with access to an organized and catalogued archive of the country's electronically published output, which only five other libraries will share.

How do I find and access eLD items?

You can search and access electronic legal deposit content in SOLO. Electronic legal deposit books, journals and web content cannot be made available beyond the physical premises of Bodleian Libraries under the terms of current legal deposit legislation. 

Please note that you will only be able to read the full-text by logging into a Bodleian Libraries PC. You won't be able to use our quick look-up terminals (also known as SunRays) for this purpose. For more help, see our LibGuide for SOLO which includes a tutorial.

The Legal Deposit UK Web Archive is accessed differently to other eLD content. It can be accessed directly from any Bodleian Libraries PC by going to It is also listed in OxLIP+ > Web Archives, together with other web archives from across the world.

What is covered?

The new eLD legislation covers:

  1. e-journals, e-books and other electronic documents published in the UK
  2. Web pages published in the UK (including material available by download from a website). See Legal Deposit UK Web Archive (LDUKWA).
  3. Stand alone or "handheld" electronic items such as CD-ROMs.
  4. Items on microfilm
The legislation does not cover:
  1. Web sites and other materials which solely consist of audio/visual content (for example YouTube). However, where audio or video clips are embedded within, for example a normal web page, it will be covered. A good example of this is videos embedded in news items on the BBC web site.
  2. Cinema films and recorded music publications, although the Regulations do cover music, sound and video contained within other publications.
  3. Intranets
  4. Emails
  5. Restricted personal data

The legislation only covers items published in the UK. It includes publications where a substantial part of the publishing process has occurred in the UK as well as web sites which end with UK domain names such as .uk, .scotland, .wales, .london and .England.

What restrictions apply to eLD?

Access to eLD items is subject to the following restrictions which are imposed by the Legal Deposit Libraries Act of 2003:

  1. eLD items may only be accessed from Library PCs within the premises of the Legal Deposit Libraries. In Oxford this means that you are only able to access eLD items from within the Bodleian Libraries. You are not able to access them from College Libraries or other University premises not under the control of the Bodleian Libraries. In addition, unlike our other e-resources, you are not be able to gain outside access even if you are using your Oxford Single Sign On (SSO) or VPN.
  2. Each eLD item may only be viewed by one person in the Bodleian Libraries at a time. If someone is already using the eLD item that you want, you will need to come back later.
  3. You may not make digital copies or save eLD items - even within normal copyright limits.
  4. You may not copy and paste from eLD items.
  5. Printing is restricted, and you will have to accept the terms and conditions governing the printing of this content every time you print something out. > See also Security for electronic publications.
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