The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 (PDF) applies to any work published in the United Kingdom. For 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 is liable for deposit. However, straightforward reprints 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
Since 2013, publishers can choose to deposit in print or digital format but not both (to explore digital content, see our Electronic Legal Deposit guide). Print deposit is the default format, unless a publisher has successfully registered for electronic deposit with the British Library.
The requirement to deposit an item does not depend on whether it has been given an International Standard Book Number (ISBN) or Serial Number (ISSN), but whether 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 act of issuing or distributing to the public in the UK makes a work liable for deposit, not the place of publication or printing, the nature of the imprint or the size of distribution.
Where we identify a gap in our collection of British publications, our Legal Deposit Operations Office sends a claim to the Agency for the Legal Deposit Libraries (ALDL), which makes claims on behalf of all legal deposit libraries (except the British Library).