Electronic Legal Deposit and ebooks

Have you had trouble connecting to an ebook from iDiscover? Perhaps you have clicked on the ‘Online access’ link and waited for your ebook to open, only to get a ‘Connection timed out’ message some time after? If so, you have probably stumbled across an Electronic Legal Deposit ebook.


What is Electronic Legal Deposit?

A growing number of publishers are now fulfilling their legal deposit obligations by depositing electronic rather than print books with the six legal deposit libraries, including the UL. Publishers currently doing this include, but are not limited to, Routledge, Edinburgh University Press, Palgrave Macmillan and Sage, and more are due to follow suit in the next few years.

How do Electronic Legal Deposit ebooks differ from purchased ebooks?

Ebooks that are deposited on Electronic Legal Deposit differ from ebooks purchased from publishers or aggregators (such as those bought by the ebooks@cambridge service or directly by Faculty libraries) in the following key ways:

  • They are only accessible on dedicated terminals around the University campus
  • They are only ever available on a one concurrent user basis
  • They may not be downloaded in any way (although printing is allowed with the usual copyright restrictions)

What do they look like on iDiscover?

Like purchased ebooks, Electronic Legal Deposit ebooks can be found on iDiscover. You can spot an ELD ebook by scrolling down to nearly the bottom of a full record in iDiscover, where you will see the following ‘Conditions of use’ statement and the link text ‘This item in Electronic Legal Deposit’:


If you were to click ‘Link to Online Resource’ or ‘This item in Electronic Legal Deposit’, the link would only work if you were using one of the designated PCs; otherwise your connection will time out.

Spot the difference?

From a results list in iDiscover, it is not currently possible to distinguish between purchased and Electronic Legal Deposit ebooks. This is a recognised issue and we hope that there will be a way of highlighting ELD books in the future.

Meanwhile, if you attempt to connect to an ebook and find your connection timing out, check for a Conditions of Use statement in the full record, then find a designated terminal or check for an alternative copy (in some cases we might have purchased a fully accessible ebook alternative).

Excluding Electronic Legal Deposit items from your search

If you would like to exclude ELD items (NB this also includes ELD journals) from a search on iDiscover, after performing a search, scroll down to the bottom of ‘Refine my results’ and under ‘Collection’ hover over ‘Electronic Legal Deposit’ until the red ‘Exclude This’ icon appears:



Further information about Legal Deposit, including Electronic Legal Deposit, is available on the Legal Deposit area of the Cambridge University Library website.

For help with ebooks, please contact ebooks@lib.cam.ac.uk.


4 thoughts on “Electronic Legal Deposit and ebooks

  1. Reblogged this on Chemistry Library blog and commented:
    A really clear explanation of these types of ebook record, thanks! It’s a shame that users will still click on the Online access link because they can’t tell it’s an e-legal depoist book at that point – let’s hope that gets resolved.

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