It's been eleven weeks since students and staff had access to the UL's electronic legal depositoryLouis Ashworth with permission for Varsity

The Cambridge University Library (UL) has begun restoration work on its electronic legal deposit systems following a cyber attack on the British Library last October (10/23).

The attack had left the library without over ten million journal articles and nearly 800,000 books, maps, journals and music scores for eleven weeks, with the full restoration of systems expected to take ‘several months’ before all records are available again.

As one of the UK’s five legal deposit libraries, the UL is entitled to a digital copy of all electronically published works which are stored on the electronic legal deposit systems. The outages made all of these copies unavailable to students and researchers.

In a statement shared with Varsity, a UL spokesperson stated: “The Electronic Legal Deposit service, which is provided by the British Library via terminals in Legal Deposit Libraries, will need to be restored amongst many other digital services impacted by the cyber-attack.”

“Cambridge University Library is providing alternative sources, wherever possible, including through Inter-Library loans and purchasing content. Cambridge students, researchers, and anyone who uses the University Library services, are encouraged to ask library staff for assistance,” they added.


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British Library cyber ‘incident’ hits UL

The attacks on British Library systems originated from Russia affiliated hacker-group Rhysida, who had demanded a ransom of 20 bitcoin to restore services and return stolen data.

Chief Executive of the British Library, Rory Keatling, referred to the attack and its aftermath as a “sobering couple of months” and stated that “full recovery of all our services will be a gradual process” and will “take some time”.

The UL’s website currently states: “Our electronic Legal Deposit collection is a shared endeavour with the other UK Legal Deposit Libraries. Our access to this content is via the British Library and is currently not available.” They anticipate restoring many services in the next few weeks, but explained that some disruption may persist for longer.