Legal Deposit and E-Publications

Thanks to Susan Hurst of the Defence Research and Development Library of DND Ottawa for volunteering to write a summary of the Legal Deposit and E-pubs session at LAC last week.


On January 16, 2007, I was fortunate to attend the CASLIS-sponsored presentation on Legal Deposit and e-Publications at Library and Archives Canada. Speaker John Stegenga, Manager of Legal Deposit at LAC, spent about one hour providing an overview of legal deposit regulations related to internet publications and other LAC initiatives in this area.

The first step in complying with legal deposit is to understand what constitutes a publication. As someone responsible for intranet content, I was happy to learn that intranets are not subject to legal deposit! Rather, the focus in on the internet and John had some guidance. Interestingly, he said that they have a concept of a pub. that is conservative but is expected to widen over time. He talked about several attributes of pubs that can be subject to legal deposit, importantly that it must be something that is available to the general public. Exceptions to legal deposit are fairly well-defined and the audience was given a copy of the regulations. On the issue of formats, the key point for me was that we don’t know how long digital formats will be supported by technology, so it is important to archive more than one format and to remove any barriers to accessing e-pubs (ex. encryption) before deposit.

I found a highlight to be LAC’s Web harvesting initiative. LAC has taken “snapshots” of GC Web sites to capture all of the content on a given day and they have “parked” this content for now. I think this initiative would be worthy of a separate presentation.

If you are somewhat uneasy about interpreting and applying legal deposit within your organization (like me), John gave me the impression that it’s OK. Legal deposit of e-pubs is murky territory. John’s message was “come and talk to us.” I think this collaboration will bode well for librarians, authors, publishers, communications and Web publishing experts. It’s a challenge to preserve Canada’s e-pubs, but there were more than 100 people at this event so I think we are interested and we are up for it!

Susan Hurst
Chief, Library Services
DRDC Ottawa

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