If you're a publisher, you need to give a copy of every UK publication you make to the British Library. Five other major UK libraries may also ask you to give them a copy. This system is called legal deposit and it's been a part of English law since 1662.

Print publications for legal deposit can be books, journals, sheet music, maps, plans, charts or tables. Now legal deposit also covers material published digitally such as websites, blogs, e-journals and CD-ROMs.

Legal deposit has many benefits for publishers and authors. Your deposited publications can be read inside the British Library and will be preserved for future generations. Your works become part of the nation’s heritage, providing inspiration for new books and other publications.

Find out more about legal deposit and how to deposit your print or digital publications. You'll also find information about how your publications are kept secure and accessed.

Find out more

About legal deposit

Find out about how your publications become part of the nation’s heritage

Access to your publications

The publications are kept secure and made available to read on our premises

Security for your electronic publications

We save your digital deposits in a resilient and secure environment

Legal deposit and web archiving

We collect and store around 4 million UK websites every year

Help

How to deposit your print publications

Advice for publishers about what material to send us and where to send it for legal deposit

How to deposit your digital publications

Legal deposit advice for publishers of websites, CD-ROMs and other e-publications

Get an ISBN or ISSN for your publication

These identifiers are used for distributing, describing and selling publications

Request access restrictions for your publications

Information on our notice and takedown procedure

Related subjects and services

UK Web Archive

Find out about the many websites we preserve and make available for researchers

Printed books

Our collections include books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, handbills and advertisements

Contemporary Britain

Collections reflecting contemporary British society and culture

Digital preservation

We save our digital heritage for future generations

On Demand

We work with publishers to provide our document supply service and give access to vast stores of digital content

Digitisation Services

Digitise your archives with us or buy images of unique British Library material

Blog posts

The Shape of Contemporary British Interactive Fiction

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

When I started this Innovation Placement, I had no idea what I was doing. Six months on, and the main thing I’ve learned is that I know even less than I thought I did. Which is not to say that...

Collecting Emerging Formats

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Emerging Formats project, started in 2017 by the British Library and the other five UK Legal Deposit Libraries, has been investigating the rise of new complex digital publications that could pose new challenges for libraries and other cultural institutions...

Two new PhD opportunities for Web Comics

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The British Library has 2 Collaborative Doctoral Studentships for research into UK digital comics

Interactive Fiction in the UK

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Nick Montfort suggests interactive fiction stories are ‘computer programs that display text, accept textual responses and then display additional text in reaction [to those responses]’.[1] Since there’s no agreed definition of interactive fiction (IF), Montfort’s is as good a starting...

More blog posts