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Senior Professor Gamini Senanayake
Vice Chancellor
University of Ruhuna

The main role of libraries is to ensure universal and equitable access to information.  This will be a cornerstone in the development of a knowledge society. But today’s context university libraries in Sri Lanka face many challenges in collecting and preserving the published heritage of the country for all to use. An important vehicle in assisting the libraries to meet this responsibility is legal deposit. Therefore the Library of University of Ruhuna initiated to establish a legal deposit within its premises with the assistance of National Library of Sri Lanka.  Legal deposit is considered as a legal requirement that a person or group submit copies of their publications to a repository, usually a library. The requirement is mostly limited to books and periodicals. The National Library of a country is considered as the repository of these copies. With the establishment of this legal deposit, Library of the University of Ruhuna will also be a repository of any book or periodical published in Sri Lanka.

The concept of legal deposit was established in 1537 with the Ordonnance de Montpellier, enacted by King Francis I (1515 -1547) to ensure the collection and preservation of documents published in France. Therefore first legal deposit in the world was established at Royal library of France. According to the literature, King Francis 1 has ordered Robert Estienne who was the prominent publisher in France at that time to give a copy of every book he printed to the royal Library.  Thereafter the concept of legal deposits became popular and many countries commenced their own legal deposits. 

First legal deposit of Sri Lanka was established in 1885 at the National Museum Library. The law of the country requires that a copy of every document printed in the country has to be deposited in the Museum Library. In addition to National Museum Library, from today onwards, the Library of University of Ruhuna will also join the world’s legal deposits and I consider this as a remarkable achievement. The special feature of the legal deposit of university of Ruhuna is that it is open for general public. Therefore I expect many scholars will visit our library to obtain the service of our legal deposit.

At this juncture, I must pay my sincere gratitude to the Librarian and his committed staff for their efforts to establish this legal deposit.