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Legal deposit: Physical material

This guide introduces the concept of legal deposit, interprets the relevant legislation and provides direction for South Australian publishers of physical and born-digital materials.

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Legal deposit in the State Library of SA

Who - 'publishers' are commercial publishers but also private individuals, clubs, churches, societies and other organisations responsible for publishing a work in South Australia. It also includes the South Australian state government.

This section applies to material of South Australian origin, or material that has particular relevance to this State such as the works of South Australian authors, histories or other content published by an interstate or overseas publisher.

Legal deposit does not apply to authors, retail outlets or printers if they are not also the publisher.

What - 'publications' are those deemed to be available to the general public either by sale or by free distribution. Legal deposit applies to the following printed material - books, newspapers (all editions and issues), magazines (all issues), journals (all issues), reports or pamphlets, maps, plans, charts, tables and printed music. The Act was amended in 1989 to include audio-visual formats so legal deposit also applies to CDROMs, DVDs, CDs, records, cassettes, film, video or audio tape or disks.

Subsequent editions of a work fall under the requirements for legal deposit if they contain additions or alterations to content or title information or if the publisher changes.

Items need to be the 'best copy available'. For example, if deluxe/hardback and paperback copies of a book are available to the general public, the deluxe/hardback edition must be deposited.

When - material should be lodged within one month of publication.

Where - publications can be posted to the Library or dropped into the Information Desk during Library open hours.

Benefits of legal deposit

The State Library commits significant resources to preserving legal deposit material. Publications are housed, conserved and stored under best practice preservation conditions and are accessible in our Somerville Reading Room under strict supervisory conditions.  These provisions ensure the longevity of publications for future generations of researchers.

Publications are catalogued to the State Library catalogue and records are accessible through Trove, the National Library's online catalogue. Records are accessible via search engines such as Google, allowing researchers from all over the world to gain information about publications.

Legal deposit publications are not available for Inter-Library Loans so are always accessible to the general public visiting the Library.

What is legal deposit

Legal deposit is a statutory provision that requires publishers to lodge copies of their publications with designated libraries. Many of the great libraries of the world, including the Library of Congress and  the British Library, are repositories for legal deposit publications.

In South Australia, the legal deposit provisions are encompassed within section 35 of the South Australian Libraries Act 1982. This requires South Australian publishers to deposit a copy of all their publications, including every issue of a periodical or newspaper,  free of charge to the State Library of South Australia and the Parliamentary Library. Additionally, the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968 requires publishers to deposit their publications at the National Library of Australia.

Legal deposit ensures preservation of South Australia's published heritage for researchers now and in the future.

Currently, in South Australia, legal deposit applies to physical items, including audio-visual and electronic publications distributed on physical media such as CD-ROM. For information on lodging material on the Internet or distributed via email or other electronic means, see the Born-digital materials section of this guide.


Does legal deposit affect copyright? No. Copyright protection is granted automatically in Australia from the moment a work is created. Creators of works held by the Library retain their copyright. The Library provides access under the terms of copyright. See the Australian Copyright Council for author/publisher copyright advice.

My work is published interstate or overseas and I am a South Australian author. Do you require a copy? YesSouth Australia's legal deposit regulations apply to material published outside the state but of relevance to South Australia.

My work is published interstate or overseas and it is about South Australia, or of relevance to South Australia. Do you require a copy?YesSouth Australia's legal deposit regulations apply to material published outside the state but of relevance to South Australia.

My work does not have an ISBN/ISSN. Do I have to lodge it? Yes. Works with and without ISBNs/ISSNs should be lodged if they are available to the general public. ISBNs/ISSNs are not affilitated with legal deposit or copyright but will aid in the discovery of your material. If you wish to acquire one, contact the ISBN Agency within Thorpe-Bowker.

Can I lodge multiple copies at SLSA? Yes but, as only one is legally required, the other copies will be subject to evaluation. A second copy may be placed in our SA Ready Reference Collection on open access, in any other collection deemed appropriate or will be returned to the donor if not required.

Will my lodgment be acknowledged? Publishers lodging material at the Information Desk will receive a receipt. For posted material, publishers of serials will receive a receipt for the first issue only. Publishers of other material will receive a receipt itemising individual titles. Special arrangements may be made with major publishers regarding receipts to save Library resources. If you are in doubt as to the progress of your lodgment, check the catalogue.

How do I find out about new legal deposit titles? You can subscribe to our RSS feed on new South Australiana resources which lists all the South Australian material added in the last fortnight including legal deposit, donations and purchased items.


Legal deposit contacts

Collection Development

State Library of SA
Phone: (08) 8207 7250
Fax: (08) 8207 7307
Published collection offers online form

Postal deposit details for:

Newspapers, journals, magazines, annual reports & newsletters

Legal Deposit Collection Processing (Serials)
State Library of SA
GPO Box 419
Adelaide SA 5001

All other publications (books, AV etc)

Legal Deposit Collection Development
State Library of SA
PO Box 419
Adelaide SA 5001

National Library of Australia

Legal Deposit Unit
National Library of Australia
Canberra ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6262 1312
Fax: (02) 6273 4492

Parliamentary Library of South Australia

Please contact them for further advice:

The Parliamentary Librarian
Parliamentary Library
Parliament House
Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: (08) 8237 9398
Fax: (08) 8237 9189

Other States

For lodging items in other states, see the National and State Libraries' guide to legal deposit in Australasia.