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The impact of electronic publishing on library services and resources in the UK

3.5.2 The way forward

The first step towards the resolution of the problems connected with legal deposit requires the establishment of a National Archive, as has been recommended in the STM Report. This could involve an extension of the current system for print-on-paper items, but consideration must be given to the number of such deposits. Duplication of the current system may not be appropriate, for several libraries lack the capacity to store, handle, and provide access to a mass of electronic publications. A National Computer Centre may offer the necessary expertise, together with the ability to adjust to technological developments in the presentation and storage of this type of material.

Given the availability of such a National Archive, it becomes simple to rule that deposit therein is an essential precondition for publication; in the absence of deposit, there could be no publication.

A Norwegian Law of Legal Deposit came into force in July 1990 covering all kinds of information media, including electronic or digitised data. However, although the Norwegian National Library has been given the responsibility for collecting electronic documents, there are major practical difficulties arising from the definition of an electronic document, the mode of storage and the provision of access. Thus, electronic media publications are defined as electronic publications distributed to the end user by a material copy, and electronic online publications are electronic publications distributed to the end user by telecommunication lines (digitised format). These definitions are not perfect. Electronic media publications can easily be acquired, stored and read as long as the reading equipment remains available, whereas electronic online publications (like databases and electronic mail and conferences) cannot be acquired in the same way.

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