Library Data: Policy & Legislation

National Policy for Libraries

A national policy for libraries is a document formally approved by the government which provides a framework for the planned and coordinated development of libraries, and the delivery of library services in a country. National policy documents listed on the LMW Country Page include general library policy strategies or guidelines as well as policy documents covering development of specific library types or library functions (e.g. national policy for development of public libraries; national digitisation strategies etc.).

Library Law

Library legislation is an expression of library policy in the form of law(s) or regulation(s). Library law provides a legal framework for running and maintaining library services, defines tasks and official guidelines for libraries’ work, and lays down statutory responsibilities in the library field. Library laws (legislative acts) listed on the LMW Country Page include general library acts as well as library acts covering selected library type (e.g. national library act or public libraries act).

Legal Deposit Law

Legal deposit is a key instrument in building national collections which preserve, develop and transmit national culture to future generations. It is a legal obligation that requires publishers, distributors and, in some countries, printers to provide copies of their publications for free to the repository of the national collection. In many countries this scope is being extended to include electronic resources together with other forms of non-print media. Legal deposit legislation can also impose obligations on the national bibliographic agency relating to material received via legal deposit concerning long-term preservation, description, access, and restrictions on the use or disposal of such material. Legal deposit can be the subject of discrete legislation or may be incorporated into another act or law (e.g., the national library act, or copyright law).

Copyright Law and Library Exceptions and Limitations

Copyright gives authors or creators of original works exclusive rights to do certain things with their works, i.e. copying, distributing, lending, placing online. In most countries, copyright laws include exceptions or limitations applicable specifically to libraries and archives – this is vital if they are to fulfil their mission to support education, research and reading. The most common subjects of library exceptions are making copies (usually a limited number), for readers, researchers, and other library users, and the making of copies for preservation. Library exceptions and limitations gives the library the possibility to use the work without permission from the author, copyright owner, or any other party.