Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln


Date of this Version




Uganda has, since 2002, put in place a three-legal deposit centre system constituted of Makerere University Library Legal Deposit Act (1958), revised (1964), under Makerere University Library (MUL); Deposit Library and Documentation Centre Act (1969) under the Uganda Management Institute (UMI), formerly, Institute of Public Administration, and, the National Library of Uganda Act (2003). Legal deposit is important for various reasons that include compilation of an authoritative national bibliography, promotion of copyright protection, monitoring the growth of the publishing industry, stocking of selected libraries including the National Library. In some countries, legal deposit is used as a tool to supervise the publishing industry against production of subversive as well as uncultured literature. Uganda's Legal Deposit System, however, is based mainly on two factors, namely; compilation of an authoritative national bibliography and preservation of the country's literature heritage (Kayaga-Mulindwa 2010). The enacting of the National Library of Uganda (NLU) Act (2003) relieved Makerere University Library (MUL) of the role of National Bibliographic Centre, giving it to NLU ( Kigongo-Bukenya 2000).

Almost all countries subscribe to legal deposit (Jason, 1991). Legal deposit is subject to numerous challenges almost in all countries, which include: lack of a clear demarcation of scope of the legal deposit materials, overseas publishing, lack of cooperation amongst the legal deposit centres, lack of cooperation between the legal depositories and the copyright office, and limited cooperation from the publishing industry. One problem that has dogged legal deposit systems everywhere is having in place a clear definition of the material scope of the legal deposit system. The original view limited the legal deposit materials to formal literature in form of books, pamphlets and magazines (Mili, 2000). This has since broadened in most countries to include semi-published literature, audiovisual as well as electronic literature (Jason, 1991). For example, Spain found it necessary to decree in 1957 a new legal deposit system, that stipulates material scope as 'writings, prints, pictures, and musical compositions produced in large numbers for purposes of dissemination, by a mechanical or chemical process' (Guatavino, 1961). In other words, to some scholars, the term 'publication' in legal deposit is used in the widest sense possible to include the traditional printed text materials as well as non-printed materials that include maps and music; and a wide range of non-book materials, or audiovisual materials, that again include sound recordings, videotapes, learning kits, jigsaw puzzles, cassettes, globes, and machine-readable files.


The legal deposit system in Uganda is facing numerous challenges which include difficulty in defining the scope of legal deposit materials, in-house publishing, multiple legal deposit system, overseas publishing limited cooperation from the publishing industry, limited cooperation amongst the legal deposit centres and lack of cooperation with the copyright office.

Material scope is one problem Uganda is experiencing, especially in the treatment of semi–published (grey) literature which for many years has been looked at by scholars as inferior publications. Today, many scholars look at preservation of grey literature as a necessity to make National Bibliographic Control (NBC) complete. It is argued that minor publications could be a source of inestimable value for the writing of history which, hitherto, could only be done with the aid of material laboriously assembled by some diligent collector (Guatavino, 1961). Uganda's publishing industry is overwhelmed by the steep increase in the production and use of grey literature. Grey literature is favoured by researchers as well as managers as it can be current, detailed, and sometimes, easier to use (Matovu 2006).

Information and Computer Technology (ICT) has made almost every office in Uganda a potential publishing unit for both printed and non-printed literature. ICT produces quality output at a considerably reduced cost, and is thus being used by many firms to produce locally published or grey literature. Increase in the flow of grey literature in Uganda could also be attributed to the influence of what is termed as New Public Management (NPM) (Matovu 2006; Denhardt and Denhardt, 2001). Under NPM, as adopted by Uganda Government in 2003, Government ministries and autonomous bodies are required to produce regular progressive reports in the name of project interim reports (Uganda, Ministry of Public Service, 2007). This has contributed heavily to the amount of grey literature produced by Government. Universities are another major source of grey literature in form of conference papers, theses and dissertations, institutional reports, etc. (Luzzi, 2000). Increase in the number of government and private universities as well as research centres, as has been the case with Uganda, has translated itself into exponential increase in the volume of grey literature produced by the country (Mili 2000). Currently, bibliographic control of grey literature in Uganda is haphazard because of the inadequacy of deposit laws, the elusiveness of producers, the inconsistency of terminology; and the rapid development of new forms and new shapes of such materials.