The Public Libraries Act 1850 empowered local authorities in England and Wales to provide a free library service on a discretionary basis, but support from philanthropists and wealthy entrepreneurs was the key to the development of the public library system up until 1919 when financial restrictions were abolished. The Public Libraries and Museums Act 1964 enabled local authorities to offer non-book material for loan through public libraries and made library provision mandatory. The Public Lending Right Act 1979 established the right for authors to be remunerated for loans made of their books through the public library system (see chapter 4.1.6). The Obscene Publications Act 1959 relaxed censorship laws.
Under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act, the person publishing work in print (including books, pamphlets, newspapers, magazines, music, maps etc.) is responsible for delivering copies to the official deposit libraries in the UK.
There are no fixed book pricing policies. A voluntary Net Book Agreement on prices between publishers and retail outlets was abandoned.