‘An ark to save learning from Deluge’? Reconceptualising legal deposit after the digital turn

Paul Gooding, Melissa Terras

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract / Description of output

Despite the introduction of Non-Print Legal Deposit (NPLD), the concept of legal deposit is still viewed primarily as a function of print modes of publishing and consumption. This chapter will argue that the print era notions that influence the NPLD access and reuse regulations are increasingly out of step with broader developments in publishing, information technology, and broader socio-political trends in access to information. We will explore case studies relating to archives of web materials, in order to demonstrate the ways that innovative research, publishing, and copyright are changing our understanding of what constitutes an archive. The digital archive is a space where innovation is occurring, and where the role of the library is evolving, yet NPLD regulations largely close down options for innovative approaches to digital materials.

This chapter will use two case studies which encounter digital materials as a new media form, with their own functions and affordances. First, we will look at the Internet Archive, a non-profit organisation that provides a suite of services to support national library and public-facing web archives. We will discuss how the IA’s approach to copyright, and its openness to data-driven methods, allow it to provide web archival services that go far beyond those allowed under legal deposit. Second, we will review Common Crawl, another non-profit organisation that provides web archival content for non-commercial text and data mining. Through these case studies, we will demonstrate that web archives can provide a space for computational research. Innovation with digital materials is occurring within national library labs in particular, and we will conclude by applying the lessons learned from web archives to understand the challenges of innovative reuse of the NPLD eBook and eJournal collections. Similar change is occurring in relation to scholarly publishing, and yet digital scholarship is similarly closed off in each subset of NPLD collections. For scholarly publishing and use, NPLD’s remediation of print services leaves it out of step with changing approaches to digital materiality elsewhere. The significance of this chapter is twofold: first, it advocates for a new understanding of access to legal deposit in relation to the textuality of digital media, which we label the ‘datafication’ of the legal deposit library; and second, it recognises that unlike print media where legal deposit materials were often not the only copy available, many non-print collections will be unique to the legal deposit libraries. We will conclude by suggesting ways in which NPLD regulations could support new approaches to digital materials in a variety of formats, based on aligning legal deposit to UK copyright regulations, but within the confines of the library reading rooms. This process will assist us to understand how to promote innovative reuse of the unique and vulnerable collections preserved by legal deposit, without undermining the commercial viability of publications through unfettered open access.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationElectronic Legal Deposit
Subtitle of host publicationShaping the Library Collections of the Future
EditorsPaul Gooding, Melissa Terras
PublisherFacet Publishing
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9781783303786
ISBN (Print)9781783303779
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • digital libraries
  • non print legal deposit
  • web archives


Dive into the research topics of '‘An ark to save learning from Deluge’? Reconceptualising legal deposit after the digital turn'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this