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In further fulfillment of its mandate as a repository of Jamaican history and culture, the National Library of Jamaica is intensifying its efforts to get publishers to comply with the specifications of the Legal Deposit Act. The Act, which was passed in 2002, came into operation on October 11 last year when its governing regulations were put in place.
Acquisitions Librarian at the National Library, Valerie Francis explains that under the Act, producers of published documents are required to deposit with specified agencies, copies of publications of all kinds produced within the country in any medium and by any process whether for public distribution, lease or sale. “The Law states that every national publisher within one month of the publication of any document should deposit a copy. If it’s an audiovisual document, one copy with the National Library or two copies if it is a printed document,” she explains. The Acquisition Librarian says one of the underlying reasons for the public education campaign was the need to address the notion that the Act only applied to publishers of printed material, and also to gauge the public’s knowledge of the Act.
“The reason we have embarked on this intensified public education campaign is to let persons be aware of the Act and all that is required of all publishers,” she emphasizes.
She says since the start of the campaign it was discovered that the term ‘document’ in the Act is interpreted by persons to mean printed documents. As a result the Acquisitions Librarian points out “members of the music industry in particular even though aware of the Act,” do not know that it applies to them.
She notes that the situation is further compounded as the Act also uses the term “publish” and once again persons believe the legislation only applies to printed material.
Steps however been taken to address the situation through the print and electronic media. In addition Ms. Francis says visits have been paid to three organizations within the music industry to discuss the matter on a one on one basis.
“Having sent letters to them and then having called for feedback that’s when we realize that there was some misconception and we felt that when we talk one on one with persons we get them to understand more clearly what the Act is all about,” she elaborates.
In the meantime she says the Library is inviting persons to visit its base at East Street in downtown Kingston and deposit copies of their material.
Several organizations have taken up the invitation. Among those that have complied are members of the Book Industry Association of Jamaica inclusive of Carlong Publishers, Ian Randle Publishers, the Jamaica Observer, Jamaica Publishing House, the University Press and first time depositor, the Jamaica Information Service. “These publishing Houses are aware of it and they have been sending and when we launched the public education campaign they came in and deposited,” Ms. Francis informs.
In the meantime she says although 20 Compact Discs (CD’s) have been received from two recording artistes in the music industry, many individuals involved in audio visual production are not making deposits, largely due to the fact that they are unaware that they were required to do so.
Ms. Francis notes that although there is a fine not exceeding $50,000 for non compliant persons under the Law, the Library was placing the emphasis on having persons make the deposit out of a desire to build the island’s cultural heritage and not because they are duty bound.
“Although there is a fine we are not talking about that so much. we are trying to encourage persons to deposit because when you think of what it is that we are doing we are trying to build a national collection and would like people to feel that they don’t do it out of a sense of duty but seeing it as building our cultural heritage,” the Acquisition Librarian notes.
“We want to get more persons in on this, not only because of fear of the fine but I find that there are more people in Jamaica who need to know about the Legal Deposit Act and we feel it is our responsibility as the National Library to do everything we can,” Ms. Francis states.
Furthermore she says the deposit could be likened to deposits made at financial institutions from which persons can benefit in the future.
“Later on, years from now others can benefit from their deposits so to speak,” she says while noting that there have been occasions where persons who in the past donated their publications to the library, are unable to find their copies and are able to access the duplicates at the National Library.
“Sometimes for one reason or other they cannot find it but they can come to the national library 50 years after. The library is here for preservation but it’s also for access,” Ms. Francis adds.
She assures that extra precautions are also taken to secure items. As a result all depositors complete a form granting the National Library permission to reformat or refresh for preservation, any document it receives, in the event of a natural disaster.
“We have taken all the necessary precautions that we can take to make sure that our collection is safe,” the Acquisitions Librarian stresses.
In the meantime the Library will continue to intensify its public education campaign through a series of events, with endorsements from several stakeholders in the music industry with an aim to further publicize the thrust.
Come November 23 the Library will convene a business meeting involving members of the audiovisual information network including players from the broadcast houses, media associations, production houses, performing rights societies, and libraries.
The opportunity will be used to educate the organizations about legal deposit and the Act.Legal deposit is the method used to gather a comprehensive national collection as a record of the nation’s published heritage and development. It is enforceable by law and requires producers of published documents to deposit with one or more specified agencies, copies of publications of all kinds produced within the country in any medium and by any process for public distribution, lease, or sale.