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. “Well, in answer to your question in your blog there, about the library and the library demanding a copy of all new books, that is quite interesting. I do not believe it is the same in the USA, however, if you want to make your copyright well-known or more protected, you must send a copy of your book to the copyright office (I think that is in Washington, DC, not sure)”. Good luck to you on the circulation of your new book. I haven’t read it but I’m sure that you might have a good thing going there. Kudos to you” artfromperry

    1. Thank you so much for your detailed comment and I appreciate your time and thought. Here in the U.K. it is more of a requirement than a demand … but very interesting to learn about it and today I was excited to send my second book to them! Thank you for your good wishes … promoting a book is the hard part I’ve realised these past months but also exhilarating!😀

  2. How wonderful! No matter that all books are deposited in the British Library. How special to know that YOURS is there too! Great feeling, and I think it’s neat the way you shared the news and info here. I know my books are copyrighted, but I didn’t know that meant they’re at the Library of Congress (?). Just learning that by reading the comments here. Neat post – as always.

    1. Pam, your comments always have me smiling! ❤️ Thank you so much for your wonderful enthusiasm about my book being there, in the British Library. It does feel special. As soon as I heard how this diligent work has been going on quietly for centuries I just had to share it here. It feels like it’s saving humanity … at a time when Its very existence seems to be in jeopardy. Just imagine all those books, music preserved for future generations! 😀😀

      Reading the comments here there seems to be a bit of uncertainty about the Library of Congress (wow, what a magnificent building). As your books are copyrighted they may well be there but some further research and questions might be needed to clarify it. If they’re not there, I hope they will be soon! 😀🌺

      1. I didn’t think I’d care if my books were in the Library of Congress, until I read your post. Now I DO care. 🙂 Reminded me of how pleased I was when I completed my Masters Thesis (in English LIt) and was told that the university sent all completed theses to its large Library for all time. Wow! Probably never to be found or read. But still, the idea is neat. 🙂

    1. Debra, it’s only through this post I learnt how widespread this wonderful practice of Legal Deposit is around the world! Canada seems to be the most efficient in collecting the books by automatically sending out the reminder to deposit the books as soon as an ISBN number is requested! I must say I haven’t yet heard about the law being directly enforced … not sure what would happen if someone refuses!

  3. That is so amazing – well done! I love the idea of every work being stored somewhere like this. I used to think that was what our Library of Congress did but I’ve since learned differently. It was intended for that but somewhere along the way the US government lost its way.

    1. Mackay, I’ve been so heartened to learn about this system and how it has been beavering away through the centuries, through all the world traumas! It gives one hope that literature, the arts and music is collected and preserved this way for now and for future generations! I would hope all countries have something similar and reading comments here the Library of Congress does seem to have this in place but I obviously don’t know how effective this is at the moment. Many thanks for reading and your comment!

  4. Wow, this is amazing! So cool to have your book officially in the British Library! And it is awe-inspiring to think of the sheer amount of history that is preserved. I always wonder where they store books. Then I wonder if anyone ever reads them 😀 Still–BOOKS!

    1. Julie, exactly! Books! And lots of them! 😀😀 The thought did occur to me, are they all read at any stage? Yet, it is heartening that Legal Deposit has existed all these centuries and still does. The history, literature, and music is phenomenal… for us and for people in the future! 😀

  5. Annika, it’s wonderful to hear that your book will find its place in the legal deposit library , a treasure which definitely should be preserved. Amazed at the statistics you provided…..764 kms of shelved storage in over 14 floors….just mind-boggling.
    Well, i am not aware of we have something like this in India. Will have to find out.

    1. Radhika, I would be so interested to see if this exists in India and please let me know what you find out! The library is an absolute treasure trove with all those book, shelving and floors … I can imagine walking in and days later still reading, not caring to return to the world outside!😀

  6. Fantastic, you are in the annals of the biggest library. And a great book. You never know one day 400 years from now someone might study it! I had some good days in the old library looking at 16 th century drama texts written by women!

    1. Georgina, I’m smiling at your lovely comment! 😀 Thank you so much! It is amazing how many old books survive and are studied … I very much doubt mine will be one! 😀 wow! How amazing that you studied in the old library, it looked very special. I’m intrigued by your studies of the sixteenth century texts. Was this for a book/dissertation? I spent a week with special permission at the Fawcett library as part of my studies and that felt a great honour and responsibility.

      1. Yes, it was quite amazing. I was completing an MA in Modern and Renaissance Literature and we were given reader membership. The plays had hand written notations on them for acting, often in the drawing rooms of manor houses.

    1. Indeed, Clare … I feel bouyed by the positive energy it gives me to think that this process is taking place not just here in the UK but around the world. And my book amongst them all! Yep, mind-boggling is the word! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend … I’m just back in from sorting the garden. Wonderfully refreshing and satisfying! 😀

      1. I never even realized all that when learning copies were required. I associated the it with possibly because we get free ISBN numbers here in Canada. I felt it was part of the package where we get the ISBN numbers but they get copies of our published work. Fair deal! 🙂

  7. I did know about this Annika, as I’m a librarian! There’s also a system called Inter Library-Loans which means that in theory you can borrow any book that’s been published and have it delivered to your own library for you to read. Sometimes they come from other libraries across the country, sometimes from the British Library itself.

    1. Andrea, my dream job!! 😀😀 Is it as amazing as I’ve always imagined it to be? It is terribly sad how the libraries are suffering at the moment … I think they are an intergral part of society and still use my local one often. No wonder you knew about this! I have use Library Loans quite often but didn’t realise some books might have come from the British Library itself. Andrea, thank you so much for your informed comment … and if I need to know any more I know who to ask! 😀 Hope you’re having a lovely weekend … sunny and crisp cold here. Perfect for walks and gardening!

      1. Thanks Annika – I’m a library manager now so I have less to do with the books and the enquiries, so not quite your dream job, but still it’s a good environment to work in and a good service to be part of. We’ve been quite fortunate in our library service in terms of changes, but there are lots of others who haven’t. Wishing you a good weekend too 🙂

  8. That’s pretty cool, Annika. You join the ranks of Da Vinci and the Magna Carta! When I copyrighted my books with the Library of Congress in the US, I needed to send copies. It was kind of cool to get the official certificate. But it’s not obligatory to officially copyright our work here. I do like the idea our literary works being preserved for future generations. 🙂 Nice!

    1. Diana, wow! You get a certificate! That’s brilliant! 😀 I hope this has pride of place in your home, or have you run out of wall space!? 😀 I’m not sure if I’ll get anything by return … still waiting! Just the thought of it makes it all seem so much more real and I love the idea of all these works of literature being preserved indefinitely! What a gift to the nation … probably one of the most important!

  9. Congrats, my friend! There’s definitely something surreal about one’s book joining notable works of writers through the ages, and in your case, the likes of Leonardo da Vinci. It’s a really cool and encouraging act. ❤

    Have you heard of Legal Deposit before? Here, every publisher is required to submit both print (6 copies) and a digital copy to the National Library. "Agency maintains a national publisher register and provides information about Finnish publishers for national and international use."

    1. Khaya, surreal is the word! 😀 Although I’m under no illusions they will be side by side on a shelf! 😀😀 The care and preservation of books over so many centuries gives one hope for the future, for humanity. In the midst of wars, chaos, this continues quietly, with perseverance and humility.

      Thank you so much for including the responsibilities faced by Finnish authors… six copies is quite a lot! As well as digital! That’s fantastic. Congratulations to you and your book joining the ranks of its National Library! And I like how people outside the country can draw on Finland’s literary resources.

    1. Jan, this was news to me too although I’ve had my book in the local library system… here you just have to prove copyright and register the book for Public Lending Rights and for each time borrowed you earn a small amount. I was so excited to send it away to the British Library! 😀

  10. That’s fascinating. We don’t do that here, in the US. I suppose if we did, it would be at the Library of Congress. They do have print copies of every book with a copyright (so 9 of mine). I really enjoyed reading this. Now, you must go to that library and take a picture of your book on the shelf!

    1. Wow! Nine books, Jacqui! I knew you’d written a lot but not that many! Congratulations and that’s a massive achievement. The Library of Congress has been mentioned a couple of times and it looks like a magnificent and awe-inspiring building! Haha! When I’m next in London I’ll try and visit the library, as so far I’ve been very remiss! See if I find my book! Imagine 😀

  11. Oh wow, how have I never heard about this before?! Such a brilliant idea. Shame those self-publishing on Kindle and similar will miss out. I love the idea of physical work being sent here, stored and preserved and given a place of pride in the collection. You must be thrilled, I know I would be! 😄
    Caz xx

    1. Caz, that’s a very good point about digital publishing and I just checked up on the British Library website and it states that: “Since 2013, legal deposit regulations have expanded to include digital as well as print publications.” There is obviously more to it than that but definitely a chance! It is a monumental task and it feels amazing that my one book is part of something so huge and important! 😀 Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts!

  12. I hit the button by mistake. Congratulations to have your book be among the classics. Just knowing that you now pass on your book down the history is a great feeling to have. With our system, only the books published my the traditional publishers file a copy in the Library of Congress. I was going to file a copy of my book to the county libraries, I haven’t done it yet.
    Thank you for sharing this excited news.

    1. Miriam, that’s happened to me so many times! Lovely you came back!😀 It is an exciting feeling as I sent the book away. I am in awe of nations that respect their culture to the extent to collect and preserve it. Interesting about the Library of Congress asking only mainstream publishers, not self-published. Maybe this will change in the future. Oh, you should definitely file a copy of your book with your local library – I finally got round to that earlier this year!

      Wishing you a lovely weekend, Miriam! 😀🌺

      1. I can imagine how exciting you feel, Annika. I saw one blogger sent a book to the library. He took a picture of the book with the library label sitting on the shelf of the new book section.
        Perhaps you’d find out where they shelf your book and take a photo also. Yes, I need to find out how to send my book to the local library. As for our county system, I think I need to talk to someone in charge to find out how to go about doing it.

        I have a Chorale rehearsal this afternoon getting ready for Christmas concert. 💖🤗

        1. Miriam, what a good idea to take a photo of the book in the library! I would love to be able to that in a bookshop. Who knows … one day perhaps!? 😀 Good luck on finding out how to send your book to the library. Enjoy your rehearsals for the concert… sounds magical!

  13. Behind the Story

    That’s so cool! I love thinking of the literature in those buildings.

    I just finished reading The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale. In the book, the murderous regime that rules The Republic of Gilead in the former United States has destroyed most of the books. The rulers don’t allow women to learn to read, but some favored older women have access to a library. As you can imagine, it’s a great privilege, and the library is very special place where books have been saved for future generations. Libraries are a repository of the wisdom of the ages.

    1. Nikki, exactly! Imagine walking amongst all those books, along the shelving. My idea of heaven! 😀

      I read The Testament a couple of months ago and recall the library of books saved for the chosen few women. The whole concept of destruction of literature is frightening, that even basic reading and writing was seen as superfluous. An efficient way to control the populace through ignorance. The book truly highlighted the importance of books in all our lives, now and for the future! May it always be so.

  14. A fascinating process of record keeping. I have no idea what happens here in Canada … the first thought that comes to mind is the ISSBN… not sure if there is a connection. Your library photos really convey the enormity of the undertaking of preserving and recording published works…very impressive in size. I can only imagine the pride and humility you must have felt submitting your work.

    1. Janice, another blogger from Canada answered about the system there. You are right, it is through the ISBN number registration, which is picked up by the national library and a letter was sent to her. This is the most organised and obvious way – maybe other countries should look at this to remind authors about their responsibility.

      I’m so glad you liked the photos; the reading rooms all look so inviting and I originally had images for most of them. It is a momentous operation of collection, collation and preservation – and one that has been in operation for over three hundred years! Just amazing!

  15. Hi Annika. How cool is it that your book is there with so many historical works. Congratulations. That place looks amazing.

    I’m aware of the Library of Congress, but I didn’t think it was mandatory here to place our books there. Of course, the U.S. doesn’t have as long a history, either. You got me wondering about this, so I did a search. This is what I found.

    1. Lori, thank you so much and it does feel significant for me, for literature, that books are preserved and honoured in this way.😀 This resource is incredible, hard to fathom its size, and I feel, it plays a key part in our civilisation. Although I’m often in London I still haven’t visited the British Library – I will rectify this soon!

      Thank you so much for the link and I hope it helps any self-publishing writers in America.

      Wishing you a lovely weekend!

  16. This is a great thing! I’m not sure if anyone’s answered for the States, but it’s not required here. Although, we can (as self-published authors) submit with a special ISBN thing for public libraries to carry our work.

    1. Kathy, I agree! Wonderful that this exists and has been working for so many centuries! 😀 Each country seems to have its own rules, submission process … always interesting to learn something new every day!

    1. Rebecca, thank you … it is exciting and I’ve loved learning more about this very important library – and ones in America and Canada. The critical importance of knowledge and its preservation cannot be overestimated.

    1. Teagan, as soon as I heard about this I had to learn more … each new fact more fascinating than the one before! I’m so glad you liked the presentation of the post – I’m in my element compiling information like this but just have to be a bit brutal on the photos! Ahh … thank you for the congratulations – this is a wonderful recognition for all authors out there!😀

  17. Annika, Congratulations! The Library of Congress in the US also stores all published works for posterity. Our very HUMANITY! These are wonderful time capsules and provide cultural backdrops for all to savor and cherish. The photos are beautiful. How cool you are listed there! I have two works at the Library of Congress starting with my Ph.D. dissertation in the mid-70s and in 2014, my poetic memoir, A Past Worth Telling. Keep on writing and entertaining us, Annika. Enjoy the weekend.

    1. Thank you, Mary Ann, and congratulations on your two works at the Library of Congress! It must feel amazing to be listed in such an esteemed library. What was the topic of your dissertation? These collections are so precious for all humanity and I’m taken with your description of them as time capsules! It is heartening that the time, effort and money continues to support this. Wishing you a lovely weekend too … a hint of snow is promised for tomorrow! Hooray!

      1. Annika, as always, thank you for your lovely comment. Topic of my dissertation was Melchior Meyr’s Erzählungen aus dem Ries. I thought it very appropriate when my first Fulbright teaching year was in the very area that Meyr wrote his stories. Thank you for asking. Our snow came early with about 3″ to clean off the vehicle. Everything looks magical with snow coverings. Continue the journey of writing more time capsules, Annika. This is how we keep a language, culture and time period vibrant! Have fun in your snow!

  18. Oh my gosh, Annika, this just made me smile. Bravo to you! I’m not sure if this exists in Canada, but I’ll research now. Amazing to think such brilliance and magical worlds reside together. Thanks so much for sharing. Cheers! 🙂

    1. Natalie, thank you so much for your lovely comment. It is amazing to think of all the library holds on its shelves – quite humbling. Jennifer kindly sought out her letter from the Canadian Libraries and they have exactly the same system! So I’m sure that should apply to your poetry books. So exciting!😀

    Legal repository in the USA
    Been there, a fabulous place …
    The library serves as a legal repository for copyright protection and copyright registration, and as the base for the United States Copyright Office. Regardless of whether they register their copyright, all publishers are required to submit two complete copies of their published works to the library—this requirement is known as mandatory deposit.

    1. Ashen, thank you so much for sharing this information! This is obviously a much more common practice than I realised and it’s good to know that there is a central caretaker for all publications! Reading the article it seems there is a bit of a battle of the libraries between Library of Congress and the British Library – the constant comparison between shelving length, number of books etc! It must have been amazing and humbling for you to visit there!

  20. Hi Annika. We have a similar setup here. I dug this out of my email files from when I republished Calmer Girls under my own imprint and then published Calmer Secrets:
    “Since you are a Canadian publisher, you are required by law to send copies of your publications to Library & Archives Canada. This is the Legal Deposit process.”
    I was only too happy to do so. 🙂

    1. Jennifer, thank you so much for searching out your letter and sharing it here! I’m so interested how this is carried across to you too! Obviously your library system was a lot more on efficient as they sent you a letter to inform you of this requirement … here it seems still a relatively unknown law. Oh yes, I bet you were only too happy to oblige – it feels special!😀😀

  21. Annika, Interesting piece of information about the British Library. Does this mean world wide published books? The size of the libraries and the photos remind me of the Harry Potter books. Mystical and surreal. And here we thought, libraries were going in the way of the Dodo and the Dinosaur when digital became popular. Like you say, Annika, “building of beauty and function.”

    I think you answered my above question, listing the other national libraries. The comments may reveal more.

    A great title and exceptionally beautiful cover of your book, Annika! Wonderful reviews. On my list now and I look forward to reading it.

    Thank you for a fascinating post. I appreciate the photos:) Erica

    1. Erica, warmest thanks for your lovely comment! First, wow! Thank you so much for your generous words about my book and I’m touched it’s now on your list of books to read. That means a lot to me and enjoy!😀

      Reading a bit more about the British Library, yes, they do take work from authors outside the UK but not as a matter of course.

      I love how you picture the library, wonderfully imaginative and it must feel mystical to walk along all those shelves, part of history stretching back centuries, then to the modern era of digital printing and music. It is fantastic how the country still sees literature and the arts as precious enough to still have this law in force. Long may it continue!

      Lovely to ‘chat’ here, Erica! Wishing you a magical weekend! 😀🌺

      1. You are right, Annika, literature and arts are very much part of our history. As you know we also need to preserve the “now” as we create history. Your post resonated with me, since even at a young age I thought of a library as a sanctuary. I would spend my Saturdays as a young girl in the library. I was dropped off and my parents could do their Saturday errands. Then, when I moved away from home, I would spend many hours in a library. I was by myself in a new town. Yes, nice chatting with you, Annika 🙂

  22. Hi. Don’t know if anything similar takes place in the USA.

    I’ve been to London a number of times over the years, but never went to the British Library. If I ever go to London again I’ll keep the Library in mind.
    Bye till next time!


    1. Neil, another blogger kindly added that there is a requirement by the Library of Congress to send two copies of a book!

      I must admit I’ve never been to the British Library either but now I’m even more keen to visit sometime. There was a lot of uproar when it moved to the new location … the old one was too small and no possibility of expansion but it had a wonderful sense of charm and stature to it.

  23. I knew of the requirement but not what it was called, or that it covered digital publications. Congratulations on contributing to the library – something I doubt I’ll ever do!

      1. I really do doubt it, Annika! As it is a standard requirement I’d have thought that they should publicise it more widely. Makes me wonder how many they’re missing!

    1. Thank you so much … and today with great joy I posted my second book to the British Library! 😀 Very exciting! So glad you enjoyed the post and photos … which are from google! Sorry for the late reply! Wishing you a lovely start to the week.

  24. Really, really cool. After all your hard work knowing your very own book will be preserved in such a prestigious library – what an honor!
    I wonder, can I submit my scores from across the pond? Just a little joke –

    1. Laura, it does feel pretty amazing and I respect the library for continuing with this system for so many centuries. It does take some work from abroad but I think mainly from the Commonwealth. However, have you checked with the Library of Congress?! They seem to be equally eager to build on their collection – I hope you ask! And do let me know what they say! 😀

  25. Hearty congratulations dear Annika and what a historical place. Marvelous and fantastic. So nice to be encouraging you writers in every genre. Hope we too from India could take part and put up our books too for viewers. Thanks so much for this wonderful share.

    1. Kamal, thank you so much for you wonderful comment … I do feel humbled to be sending my book off to this esteemed library. It means a lot that they respect culture to the extent to share and protect it. And yes, they do take some work from abroad but not quite sure how this works. I did read that the Library of Congress ensures to have every important work written in English amongst its collection.

  26. What a magnificent library. It reminds me a little of our State Library in the city though I’m not familiar with Legal Deposit. Such exciting news to think that your book will be housed amongst some of the classics of all time. Congratulations! xx

    1. Miriam, reading the comments here I am beginning to think that many countries around the world have a similar system, including Australia. I just checked and yes, it does: ” Legal deposit is a statutory provision which legally obliges publishers to deposit copies of their publications in the National Library of Australia and in the state or territory library in the region of publication.” So that includes your State Library. Cool! The British Library is amazing although there was a lot of dissent as it moved from its old location. I know, I can’t quite believe that I sent the book to them … it’s really brought home the importance and value of literature.

    1. Brigid, I felt a bit embarrassed first as I thought maybe everyone knew about this … obviously not and it seems, unlike other countries, the library is not sending out notifications. Surely there is something similar in Ireland and for your book to go there? Included in this list was the University Library in Dublin. It is encouraging that literature and the arts are valued to this extent, to be collected, shared and preserved for the future.

    1. Jill, this was the first time I’ve heard about it too but what an amazing idea and to think it started so many centuries ago. The richness and importance of culture made an intergral part of the country! Oh, I initially had images of all the reading rooms, each so inviting. I agree, it would be wonderful to lose oneself there for a while!

  27. How wonderfully you give us so much knowledge of marvels that somehow seem
    hidden to most of us. I felt a great warmth to a country that cares so much about arts in all forms. Obviously literature here but also music.
    Your presentation gives us the feeling of how awesome this library is and one can only start imagine the work behind. For me the greatest thing is that there was so much care.

    What a feeling it must be that your book now is on the way to be included in this
    illustrious establishment. Congratulations Annika and thanks for the heartwarming post this morning.


    1. Miriam, thank you for your heartwarming and thoughtful comment, 😀 I must say legal deposit was hidden from me too until I stumbled across a small article about it in a magazine and I decided to research further. The concept is amazing and that is been carried out for centuries with so little fanfare and selflessly almost beggers belief! I know some libraries carry music but this collection is monumental… a haven for all music lovers! It is heartening and inspiring how much care is shown by the library and I feel very chuffed to have sent my book away. It doesn’t feel quite real! 😀

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