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Legal Deposit
Definition
Legal deposit is the obligation for any editor or printer to deposit two copies of each document published or printed in Lebanon in the Lebanese National Library, or other authorized organizations, depending on the document's nature (films are deposited in the Film Library, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Culture).

What is Liable For Legal Deposit?
Legal deposit applies to books, periodicals, and any audio, visual or multimedia document.

Benefits of Legal Deposit
  • Publications are preserved;
  • They are promoted and widely exposed to researchers;
  • They are recorded in the national bibliography;
  • They are made available to researchers for consultation in the Library's reading halls;
  • They contribute to the establishment of a reference collection;
  • They enrich the national heritage.

Background
Evolution of laws
  • The 1924 law on commercial, industrial, literary and artistic property established legal deposit (Order No 2385 signed by General Weygand, on January 17, 1924), which requires publishers to deposit two copies of each published or republished title in "the Great Library of Beirut". The execution supervision of legal deposit was then entrusted to the Ministry of Economy.
  • In 1941, the Lebanese Government decreed the Charter of legal deposit with "the Great Library of Beirut" (Decree No 122).
  • In 1962, the law on printed works (Article 20 of the 14/09/1962 law) required publishers to deposit two copies of their publications in the National Library, and two other copies in the Ministry of Information.
  • In 1995, the law amendment on printed works entrusted legal deposit to the National Archives (See the original Arabic version of the 1995 law on legal deposit).
  • In 2008, the law establishing the National Library as a public institution annulled any previous legislation pertaining to legal deposit. It stipulates that any document published in Lebanon must be deposited in the National Library in two samples, and only films must be deposited in the Film Library (See the original Arabic version of the 2008 law on legal deposit).

Assessment Before And After The 1975 War
A study of the existing collections and publishing houses showed the following:

  • From 1924 to 1975:
    Before 1975, legal deposit was not implemented on a regular basis: only 150 to 200 titles were reported in each of the four volumes of the national bibliography, which were the only ones published by the LNL in 1961, 1962, 1972 and 1973. There is no comprehensive inventory of the intellectual output of the time.

  • From 1975 to 1995:
    The war years were paradoxically the golden age of publishing in Lebanon. However, the legal deposit was not implemented during that period or during the post-war years.

  • From 1995 to 2006:
    Since 1995 (Act No 441 of August 17, 1995, implemented in 1997), legal deposit has been officially implemented at the National Archives. Four volumes of the national bibliography were published, covering the period from 1997 to 2007 during which nearly 7500 works were deposited. A fifth volume covering the period from 2008 to 2010 is under preparation and will include around 1500 bibliographic records.

Today
Until the implementation decrees of the LNL are promulgated, the National Archives shall be in charge of the legal deposit.

Reactivation of Legal Deposit
Among the missions entrusted to the Rehabilitation Project of the National Library (2003-2006), which was funded by the European Union, was the reactivation of the legal deposit. It has been carried out through:

  • The establishment of a comprehensive database of publishers in Lebanon: 800 publishing houses;
  • The organization of several meetings with the publishing stakeholders: Union of Publishers, Cultural Movements, etc.;
  • Training on legal deposit at the French National Library;
  • The organization of the legal deposit service (workflow, flowchart, job descriptions).

Legal Deposit Forecast
The estimated numbers of yearly published or produced documents in Lebanon to be subjected to legal deposit according to the architectural program elaborated by the Rehabilitation Project in 2006, are as follow:

  • Books: 7500 titles/year
  • Periodicals: 21,000 issues/year
  • Maps and plans: 45/year
  • Films: 5/year
  • Atlases: 20/year
  • Posters (50X70cm): 1250/year
  • Microfilms: 15,000/year
  • Audiovisual collection: 2500/year

Awareness Raising on The Importance of Legal Deposit
-In 2005, an awareness-raising campaign on the reactivation of the legal deposit was conducted; it targeted the general public and the publishers. To this end, an open day was organized at the Library's workshops.

-The Rehabilitation Project of the National Library participated in several book fairs and exhibitions such as "Lire en Français et en Musique", "Antique Books and Manuscripts Fair", "Pinceaux pour Plumes" etc., where a part of the old collection of the National Library was showcased.

-Print and audiovisual media campaigns on the importance of the implementation of legal deposit were conducted.

Legal deposit legislation (in Arabic)