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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 South Australia's 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 and the Parliamentary Library. Additionally, the Commonwealth's Copyright Act 1968 requires publishers to deposit their publications at the National Library of Australia. Currently, in South Australia, legal deposit applies to both physical and born-digital publications.

Who are publishers

'Publishers’ are commercial publishers but also private individuals, clubs, churches, societies and other organisations responsible for publishing work in South Australia. It also includes the South Australian State Government.

The library also has the authority to claim items from interstate and overseas publishers, whose publications have particular relevance to South Australia.

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

What are publications

'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* and born-digital** materials:



newspapers (all editions and issues)


magazines (all issues)


journals (all issues)


reports or pamphlets



audio tape or disks


websites (via PANDORA national web archive)


e-serials, e-newsletters


PDF documents

printed music

games and online applications

*Physical publications refer to printed materials which have a physical presence.

**Born-digital publications are published materials created using electronic devices that do not have a physical equivalent.

Benefits of Legal Deposit

Legal deposit ensures the preservation of South Australia's published heritage for researchers now and in the future. This information might be lost to the historical record unless institutions such as the State Library collect and preserve it.

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, which means there are always accessible to the general public visiting the Library.

Where to lodge publications

Visit us and drop them at the Information Desk during our open hours.

Digital publications

Submit a new collection item online

Newspapers, journals, magazines, annual reports and newsletters

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

All other physical publications 

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

Contact Us

Collection Development 

Phone: (08) 8207 7280

Contact the National Library of Australia

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

Contact the Parliamentary Library of SA

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

Other state libraries

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

Image caption:Infocuz Technologies, La tecnologia de big data revolucionara la seguridad de la informacion, Flickr Creative Commons, viewed 25/3/2014.

Physical Materials FAQs

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 State Library retain their copyright. The State Library provides access under the terms of copyright. See the Australian Copyright Council for author/publisher copyright advice.

My work is published interstate but 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 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 the State Library? 

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 lodgement be acknowledged? 

Publisher's 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 State Library resources. If you are in doubt as to the progress of your lodgement, 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.

Born Digital Material FAQs

What about commercially available e-Books or online documents? 

The State Library will observe any licensing restrictions required by copyright holders. This may mean that these publications are not accessible outside the State Library for an embargo period, or for the duration of copyright.

How does the State Library archive websites? 

Once permission is obtained, the State Library employs harvesting software that copies material online from a specified seed URL and publishes it to the PANDORA archive. In most cases, the publisher's assistance is not required.

Does the State Library want access to material behind secure sections of websites? 

No. The State Library seeks to preserve publicly available material. Newsletters or other information behind a password or 'members-only' section of a website will not be actively sought as they are not considered to be available to the general public. Additionally, this material cannot be accessed via PANDORA from a technical perspective.

Is South Australian government material subject to the same considerations? 

Yes. Permission to collect and re-publish SA government material online needs to be negotiated with individual department/agency heads at this point in time. State Library is keen for departments to provide blanket permissions for all their electronic material which will negate the need for repeated individual permission requests.

My organisation distributes its PDF annual report on USB drives. Will you accept those? 

Yes. The PDF files will be copied from the USB and stored on our State Library servers. The USB drive can be returned to you upon request.

Where can I learn more about preserving my unpublished, personal digital material? 

The National and State Libraries Australasia has produced a Personal Digital Archive Toolkit which contains information on how to manage your own digital material. This will help you if you wish to donate it to the State Library's archival collections at a later date.