18 November 2020

IFLA Releases Checklist for Legal Deposit Laws

IFLA has released its checklist for legal deposit laws, aiming to help those analysing existing laws or planning new ones. It is intended to ensure that key issues or questions are not forgotten, but rather included in reflections on this key area of legislation for libraries and their users.

National libraries and other institutions with legal deposit functions play a vital role in ensuring the safeguarding of documentary heritage, as well as supporting other public interest goals.

They contribute as libraries of last resort for researchers, sources of historical materials to support education, and through their support in creating national bibliographies and sometimes in management of ISBNs.

In many cases, their activities are strongly based on legal deposit laws, which create the possibility to receive – or to collect -copies of all works published in a country.

These set out the duties and possibilities for libraries and publishers of information, including around overall objectives, which works are covered, how works should be deposited or collected, and what libraries may be able to do with them subsequently.

With new formats of publication emerging, alongside unprecedented volumes of content, and new possibilities for use, those involved in legal deposit can face important questions.

Existing laws may not cover new types of work, or not offer clarity, creating uncertainty for both producers and legal deposit institutions alike. They may also not have been updated to reflect new technological possibilities to provide secure access.

The new IFLA Checklist for Legal Deposit laws aims to provide a tool for those analysing existing laws, or planning new ones.

Rather than making any specific recommendations, it provides a structure for reflection, and helps ensure that discussions about legal deposit do not neglect or bypass important questions.

We welcome feedback on the document for potential future improvements.

Download the checklist on our publication page.

National Libraries, Access to knowledge, Preservation, legal deposit, web harvesting

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