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Identifying the future direction of legal deposit in the United Kingdom: The Digital Library Futures approach

Paul Gooding (Information Studies, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK)
Melissa Terras (College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Linda Berube (Centre for Human-Computer Interaction Design, City University of London, London, UK)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 31 March 2021

Issue publication date: 10 August 2021




To date, there has been little research into users of the Legal Deposit Libraries (Non-Print Works) Regulations 2013. This paper addresses that gap by presenting key findings from the AHRC-funded Digital Library Futures project. Its purpose is to present a “user-centric” perspective on the potential future impact of the digital collections that are being created under electronic legal deposit regulations.


The study utilises a mixed methods case study of two academic legal deposit libraries in the United Kingdom: The Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford; and Cambridge University Library. It combines surveys of users, web log analysis and expert interviews with librarians and cognate professionals.


User perspectives on NPLD were not fully considered in the planning and implementation of the 2013 regulations. The authors present findings from their user survey to show how contemporary tensions between user behaviour and access protocols risk limiting the instrumental value of NPLD collections, which have high perceived legacy value.


This is the first study to address the user context for UK Non-Print Legal Deposit. Its value lies in presenting a research-led user assessment of NPLD and in proposing “user-centric” analysis as an addition to the existing “four pillars” of legal deposit research.



The research that informs this article was supported by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council under grant number AH/P005854 between June 2017 and August 2019. The authors are grateful to their project partners at the Cambridge University Library and the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, for their expert support.


Gooding, P., Terras, M. and Berube, L. (2021), "Identifying the future direction of legal deposit in the United Kingdom: The Digital Library Futures approach", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 77 No. 5, pp. 1154-1172.



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