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

Sailing Away To A Distant Land - Mahendra Mahey, Manager of BL Labs - final post

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Posted by Mahendra Mahey, former Manager of British Library Labs or "BL Labs" for short [estimated reading time of around 15 minutes] This is is my last day working as manager of BL Labs, and also my final posting on...

Hundreds of definitions for a big word: The Refugee Dictionary comes to the British Library

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

To mark the 70th anniversary of the UN Refugee Convention, the charity UK for UNHCR has created a dictionary with a thousand definitions of one word: refugee. A copy of this work has been presented to the British Library.

Building the New Media Writing Prize Special Collection

Thursday, July 22, 2021

The New Media Writing Prize is awarded annually to interactive works that use technology and digital tools in exciting and innovative ways. Organised by Bournemouth University, the prize is now in its 12th year and open for entries until 26th...

The VHS Tapes: Preserving Emerging Formats at the British Library

Friday, June 18, 2021

Researching how to collect, curate and preserve emerging formats is important work for us in the Library. Fortunately we aren't alone in our quest to understand how to manage born digital collections, we are active members of organisations such as...

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