User-centric evaluation of non-print legal deposit in the United Kingdom: The digital library futures approach

Paul Gooding, Melissa Terras, Linda Berube

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Legal deposit, which ensures the systematic preservation of published materials for future generations, is the legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of official publications to a trusted repository or repositories. Statutory provision for legal deposit dates back to the 16th Century (Lariviere, 2000, p. 6), and the concept of legal deposit has existed in English law since 1662, and British law since 1710. The Copyright Act 1911, updated by the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003, makes provision for the following six legal deposit libraries to receive copies of publications released in the United Kingdom: the British Library; the National Library of Wales; the National Library of Scotland; the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford; the Cambridge University Library; and the Library of Trinity College Dublin. Six years ago, UK legal deposit was extended by “The Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013” (2013) to include online and offline electronic publications in writing, including eBooks, eJournals, electronic mapping, and the UK web domain.
This paper will focus upon usage of Non-Print Legal Deposit (NPLD) collections in UK academic legal deposit libraries. Despite the expansion of UK legal deposit, there is almost no research into the impact and value of NPLD collections for users. Existing studies focus on “four pillars of NPLD strategy: collection development, including selection and metadata; long-term digital preservation of NPLD materials; technical aspects including systems capture, ingest and standards; and regulatory aspects” (Gooding, Terras and Berube, 2019). We therefore aim to address the lack of user-focused evaluation of NPLD services by presenting the work of the AHRC-funded Digital Library Futures project. The research set out to answer the following primary research question: what is the impact of the 2013 NPLD regulations upon UK academic deposit libraries and their users? This paper will outline the results of this work, focusing on the challenges that users of NPLD face in order to demonstrate the important role of user-centric evaluation in the development of digital resources. It acts as the first user-centric analysis of the impact and value of NPLD in the UK, and fills an important gap in the methodological literature by demonstrating best practice in studying digital collections for which there is no pre-defined user community.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication13th International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries
Place of PublicationAberystwyth
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2019


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