Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


Supplementary evidence from The British Library

1.   Please can you set out what the British Library would consider to be "reasonable and appropriate access" for each of the formats to be covered under new legal deposit regulations? (Q255)

  The Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 has been brought into force by Statutory Instrument on 1 February 2004. However, the only publications for which statutory deposit is currently required remain printed ones. The process of making Regulations covering non-printed formats is potentially lengthy and should be expedited by Government so far as practicable, consistent with the maintenance of safeguards for both publishers and libraries.

  Our understanding is that the process cannot commence until the Government has established an Advisory Panel to advise the Secretary of State on the making of Regulations. The Government has yet to publish its recommendations on the membership and terms of reference of the Advisory Panel, following which there will need to be a period of public consultation, and thereafter a process of appointment (according to Nolan principles). On behalf of all the legal deposit libraries, the British Library would hope that the Science and Technology Committee would encourage Government to ensure that the Advisory Panel is set up without undue delay.

  In the making of Regulations, it will be necessary to arrive at a definition of a United Kingdom publication, especially in an online environment, which simultaneously recognises the need for an appropriate territorial limitation (and thus protects the economic interests of publishers) but also prevents any significant "deposit gap" opening up in respect of material which could legitimately be regarded as constituting part of the UK's intellectual and cultural record. The libraries are currently formulating their position in this matter.

  In the making of Regulations, while there may need to be limited provision for the exclusion of certain publications from deposit (or, in the case of websites and certain other online materials, eligibility to harvest), either absolutely or until certain sales thresholds are passed, the default position should be in favour of deposit (or harvesting), in accordance with the collection development policies of the libraries. If, in a minority of cases, there are grounds for believing that the economic interests of the publishers might be prejudiced by access through the libraries, the situation would be better addressed by requiring deposit but providing for the libraries to impose embargoes on access for a limited period. This pragmatic situation already operates, very selectively, in the printed deposit environment.

  In the making of Regulations, the libraries should be permitted to undertake such acts with deposited or harvested material as are necessary for their internal administrative purposes, including the creation of metadata and preservation, the latter act to include any necessary transfer of media or software refreshment to ensure perpetual access to the material.

  In the making of Regulations, the libraries should be entitled to make deposited or harvested material available to all categories of registered readers within the physical premises of those libraries, by analogy with the situation which already obtains for printed publications. For online material, the libraries believe that a secure network connecting all the libraries is likely to be the most efficient means of providing such access, and it is to be hoped that Regulations will permit the establishment of such a network. It is possible that there may be a case for the number of simultaneous users to any particular material being restricted. In the case of Trinity College Dublin Section 13 of the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 would apply.

  In the making of Regulations, consideration should be given to circumstances in which some non-commercial material might be made available beyond the physical premises of the libraries without prejudicing the economic or other interests of rightsholders.

  In advance of the making of Regulations, libraries and publishers are continuing to make progress with voluntary schemes. It is hoped that a voluntary scheme in respect of electronic journals, covering the collection, preservation and access of those published on both subscription and open access business models, and in electronic only or parallel printed and electronic formats, can be set up relatively quickly. Given the direct applicability of such a scheme to the work of the Science and Technology Committee, it is hoped that its endorsement for such a scheme would be forthcoming, and its encouragement of commercial publishers to participate.

2.   Please can you supply data on the number of publications in digital format that have not been deposited voluntarily with the British Library? (Q256)

  There is currently no authoritative bibliographic control of UK electronic publications against which strictly such an assessment can be made. The achievement of national bibliographic control of electronic publications—to parallel that for printed publications in the UK—will depend upon legal deposit for its authority and comprehensiveness. However, the October 2002 Study Report prepared by Electronic Publishing Services Ltd for the Joint Committee on Voluntary Deposit (Electronic Publishing Services Ltd. The impact of the extension of legal deposit to non-print publications: assessment of cost and other quantifiable impacts. October 2002) concluded inter alia that if the British Library's receipt of electronic publications were compared against the universe figures of UK output:

    —  Of hand-held electronic publications the Library was already receiving a high proportion of published output, possibly in the region of 75%

    —  For electronically-delivered publications (mostly electronic serials) coverage was much less good with the BL receiving a smaller proportion of all published output, ie possibly as much as 45-50%

  The Report noted that from the strictest perspective of the Voluntary Deposit of Electronic Publications scheme (which is limited to hand-held items) these conclusions were of "considerable comfort". However, online publications fall outside the formal scope of the voluntary scheme and the overwhelming majority (including 4 million UK websites) are not deposited.

  Electronic Publishing Services' estimates of UK output volumes in 2004 was as follows:

UK electronic publishing output (est)

Monographs: new in year
Serial titles: cumulative
Serial issues/parts
"Pure" electronic
Unique monographs/e-books
Serial titles: cumulative
Serial issues/parts

  As the Library noted in its written evidence to the Committee, at the end of January 2004 2,024 electronic monographs and 1296 serial titles (388 hand-held plus 908 online serial titles in 88,000 issues/parts)) had been deposited with the Library since the voluntary scheme started in January 2000.

3.   Please can you summarise the findings of the studies that have been carried out on the advantages and disadvantages of physical and digital storage? (Q265)

  Q265 asked about the relative costs of digital versus hard copy storage, and the Library has addressed this question in those terms.

  H Shenton, "Life-cycle collection management", LIBER Quarterly, 13 (3/4), 2003.

  This article introduces the concept of life-cycle collection management, a vital piece of context, and there is no better introduction to BL activities. Life cycle collection management is a way of taking a long-term and holistic approach to the responsible stewardship of the British Library's collections. It defines the different stages of a collection item over time, from selection and acquisition to conservation storage and retrieval and identifies the economic interdependencies between decisions made at various points in the life cycle. The life cycle approach is equally applicable to both the traditional printed item and the electronic publication.

  L.S. Connaway and S.R. Lawrence, "Comparing library resource allocations for the paper and the digital library", D-Lib Magazine, 9 (12), 2003 —

  This exploratory study asked eleven US Association of Research Libraries (ARL) librarians to identify the resources needed for the transition of an all-paper library to the all-digital library. The librarians were asked to consider two hypothetical types of library—a "paper" library comprising paper books and no electronic media and a "digital" library comprised entirely of electronic publications—and to estimate future resource requirements in the hypothetical all -digital library compared to an all-paper library. The findings of the study indicate: agreement that labour, space requirements and material resources are estimated to be less in an all digital library than in a paper library; concern around the costs of higher salaries need to attract more knowledgeable and skilled staff; uncertainty around equipment requirements; concern around the costs of maintaining both the digital and the paper library simultaneously for the foreseeable future.

  R C Schonfeld, A Okerson and E G Fenton, "Library periodicals expenses: comparison of non-subscription costs of print and electronic formats on a life-cycle basis", D-Lib Magazine, 1- (1), 2004—

  This study analysed non-collection cost data from eleven US academic libraries, using a life-cycle analysis to study the longer-term cost implications of the transition to electronic periodicals. The study concludes that the transition to the electronic format seems likely to afford reductions in libraries' long-term financial commitments to the non-collection costs associated with electronic periodicals. However the paper acknowledges there is no long-term archiving solution reflected in the costings for electronic materials and it recognises that, if the library community is to continue to ensure the long-term availability of the resources that it provides, some provision must be made.

  S Chapman, "Counting the costs of digital preservation: is repository storage affordable?", Journal of Digital Information, 4 (2), 2003 (Harvard and OCLC study to which Lynne refers) —

  Harvard University Library and the Online Computer Library Center inc (OCLC) each manage centralised repositories optimised for long-term storage of library collections. Harvard assesses costs for analogue storage per square foot; OCLC Digital Archive assesses costs per gigabyte for storage of digital objects. The study concludes that managed storage costs represent only part of the full spectrum of preservations costs. Moreover, choice of repository, scope of service, decisions regarding formats, number of items, number of versions, etc are all potential variables applying equally to traditional and digital repositories. A broad consideration of these issues requires not only an assessment of cost variables but also an accounting of the benefits associated with these decisions.

April 2004

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