Departmental Publications

NICS Government Departments publish a multitude of documents in both print and electronic format. Below is some guidance to Departmental Publishing Branches on their legal obligations and advice on the control and exploitation of Departmental publications.

Legal Deposit

Departments are required under the Legal Depost Act, 2000 to send one copy of all of their publications to the Legal Deposit libraries. This is in addition to the copies required to be sent to the Northern Ireland Assembly and to Westminster, for which guidance is available from the Executive & Central Advisory Division of The Executive Office, telephone 028 9037 8055 (Network 88055).

There are six Legal Deposit libraries named under the Act:

  • The British Library
  • The Bodleian Library, Oxford
  • The University Library, Cambridge
  • The National Library, Scotland
  • The National Library of Wales
  • The Library of Trinity College, Dublin

In addition to these six libraries, the following two organisations have made representations to NI Ministers and been given similar status to the Legal Deposit libraries and should be treated as such:

  • The McClay Library, Queen's University Belfast
  • Northern Ireland Publications Resource (NIPR)

The addresses for despatch of publications to the above libraries are given in the Appendix.

The NICS Library can provide additional advice on this matter and will arrange for the despatch of publications to the above organizations on behalf of publishing branches. You can obtain advice from the Head of Library Services, Fiona Sawey.

National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland has asked if NI Departments would include the Library on their list for distribution of publications. The Library has indicated that its collection of official publications is an important resource for researchers and it would like to ensure that its substantial collection of Northern Ireland publications is as complete as possible. While there is no legal requirement to do so, Departments are asked to give favourable consideration to the request and to send one copy of those publications they would normally send to the Legal Deposit Libraries to the National Library of Ireland at the address given in the Appendix.

Definition of publication for the purpose of legal deposit

A work is said to be published when it is distributed to the public. This includes books, pamphlets, maps, journals and newsletters. Exceptions would include diaries, forms, posters and other material containing little textual context. Legislation is also excluded as the copyright for legislation resides with TSO, who are responsible for its legal deposit.

Archive Copies

Publishing Branches can also send one copy of every publication produced to the NICS Library Service. This will ensure that copies of Departmental Publications are retained permanently and enable the Library to produce a list of available publications.

Freedom of Information Act 2000 - Publication Scheme

Publications should be available on Departmental Websites on the day of publication - your Departmental Information Manager or Website Co-ordinator will advise on the format, for example .pdf, Word, etc.)

International Standard Book Numbers (ISBN)

Ideally, all publications should carry an ISBN. This is a unique identifier that allows publications to be more easily traced. The allocation of ISBNs in the UK is made by the:

Nielsen UK ISBN Agency
3rd Floor, Midas House
62 Goldsworth Road
GU21 6LQ
Tel: 01483 712 215 (9.00am to 5.00pm)
Fax: 01483 712 214

Web site:

Title Page for Departmental Publications

All publications should include a title page. The information given on the title page is intended to provide important information about the publication.

The front of the title page should give:

  • the full title and subtitle of the work
  • the volume number, if any
  • the series title and number, if any
  • name of author(s), compiler(s), or editor(s)
  • name of publisher or publishing division if this bears a separate name
  • date of publication

The reverse of the title page should give:

  • name and full registered address of the publisher or publishing division
  • edition, if this is not the first edition
  • mention of an earlier edition of the same work with a different title
  • copyright notice
  • ISBN


If a publication is being published under legislative authority the legislation should be cited. This citation should appear on the front of the title page. Advice on the precise wording of the statement can be obtained from The Executive Office.


The British Library
Legal Deposit Office
The British Library
Boston Spa
West Yorkshire
LS23 7BY

Agent for the Copyright Libraries (5 copies)
161 Causewayside

Library, Queen's University Belfast
Official Publications Department
The McClay Library
Queen's University Belfast
10 College Park

Northern Ireland Publications Resource (NIPR)
NIPR Co-ordinator
Linen Hall Library
17 Donegall Square North

National Library of Ireland
Official Publications Section
National Library of Ireland
Kildare Street
Dublin 2

Taken from Guidance on distribution of departmental publications and consultation documents June 2016 (Word 86 KB)

See also NICS Guidance on laying, presenting and depositing of papers in the NI Assembly June 2023 produced by TEO