UK Bill to Preserve Non-print Materials Proposed

Feb 07, 2003

Chris Mole, Member of Parliament (MP), is championing a new bill to ensure that non-print materials are collected and preserved for future generations of researchers. The Bill is intended to ensure electronic or epublications and other non-print materials are saved as part of the published archive. A campaign to bring the law up-to-date with the current world of publishing has been led by the British Library, on behalf of all the legal deposit libraries and the publisher trade bodies. If the move is successful, new generic legislation will ensure that non-print formats are included within legal deposit - allowing UK businesses and education to benefit from access to the widest possible collections of research material, now and in the future. Since 1911 the six legal deposit libraries have been able to collect copies of all printed material published in the UK. However, an increasing volume of important material is now only published in electronic formats. These fall outside the scope of the 1911 Act and are therefore not comprehensively collected. The most recent study forecasts a massive increase in online publications, including a near quadrupling (from 52,000 to 193,000) in the number of electronic journal issues published in the UK between 2002 and 2005. Non-commercial publications, including the 2.96 million .uk Web sites, add enormously to this number. While some of these Web sites may be deemed ephemeral, others contain important material--for example sites covering the events of 9/11. Non-print materials are also at risk including: publications accessed over the internet, e.g. electronic journals; Web sites; publications on media other than paper, such as microfilm or fiche; and 'hand-held' electronic publications on media such as CD-ROM or DVD.

In January 2000, a voluntary scheme to help extend the National Published Archive was established with Government support. Administered by the Joint Committee on Voluntary Deposit (JCVD)--comprising representatives from the legal deposit libraries and the four main publisher trade bodies--the scheme has already saved many non-print items. However, the legal deposit libraries, the publishers' representatives, and library users now agree that new legislation is necessary to safeguard the future integrity and completeness of the published archive.

A number of other nations have already addressed, or are investigating, the extension of legal deposit. In Germany new legislation has been drafted to cover all types of material whilst a voluntary scheme to obtain online material and Web sites - in operation since March 2002 - has been generally well received by publishers and users alike. In France the government has issued a directive to ensure that the national library will collect all electronic material. Norway and Denmark have similar schemes and are actively collecting digital material in all information carriers, including Web sites. In Finland legislation will be introduced in March 2003 to extend legal deposit to Web sites (current legislation includes other electronic material) while in New Zealand legislation is currently at the Select Committee stage.