The British Library wants my book! It’s official! There again they want a copy of every newly published work; be it a book, manuscript or music score.

It was only recently I learned that this esteemed institution requires publishers, by law, to forward a copy of any new publications. Legal Deposit was established in 1662 and since 2013, it now includes digital as well as print publications. Publishers, which also means authors who self-publish, must send their book to the British Library.

The King’s Library

What exactly is Legal Deposit:

“The legal deposit libraries work together to ensure the long term preservation of UK publications, both in print and digital form. They are collected systematically. They ensure that publications are held securely and that they can be discovered and accessed by readers within the legal deposit libraries as well as being preserved for the use of future generations.”

With pride, I pop a copy of “The Storyteller Speaks” in the post to them. I imagine it joining the 170 million items there. These are stored on shelving stretching on 746 km over fourteen floors.

The present British Library at St. Pancreas was only completed towards the end of the last century and it’s a building of beauty and function.

Humanities Reading Room

It is home to eleven reading rooms including ones for Rare Books, Manuscripts and Maps! Amongst its collections are materials ranging from Magna Carta to Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook, from today’s newspapers to websites. For those interested in music there are over seven million recordings from 19th-century wax cylinders recordings to CDs.

Furthermore, a separate building on a 44-acre site in Boston Spa in Yorkshire houses around 70% of the Library’s print collection which accounts for over 80 million items.

Legal deposit is not restricted to only the British Library in London. A further five national libraries can insist on copies being forwarded by the publishers to them. These are the National Libraries of Scotland, Wales and Trinity College Dublin, as well as Cambridge University Library and Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.

Have you heard of Legal Deposit before? Have you sent your book to the British Library? For readers not in the UK, I wonder if there is a similar requirement in your county? Can’t wait to find out more from you all!

151 thoughts on “YOUR BOOK BY DECREE

    1. 😀😃 Roy, I reckon you don’t have to worry about non-compliance! There must be much more pressing matters for the courts but it is interesting to know the same exists for Jersey Library.

  1. Daniel Kemp

    My step-son worked in the British Library and he told me of this, but I did something else that you may want to follow. I took a copy of one book to the London Library in St James’s Square SW1 who kindly excepted it.

    1. Daniel, what a wonderful job for your step-son! Was he involved in the move of the British Library. I always thought the logistics must have been horrendous. Thank you, I had never thought of the London Library and next time I’m in London I’ll take a copy with me to them. See what they say!😀

  2. hilarymb

    Hi Annika – so well done – and excellent to have the write up about the Legal Deposit … and I love seeing the British Library … congratulations … cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary and thank you so much! It was fantastic to learn about Legal Deposit and how this has existed for centuries. Now I want to visit the British Library. Have you been there a lot? How does the new one compare to the old one?

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