kids encyclopedia robot

National Library of New Zealand facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
National Library of New Zealand
NLNZ ext 5.jpg
Established 1965
Location Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington, New Zealand
Coordinates 41°16′36″S 174°46′42″E / 41.276614°S 174.778372°E / -41.276614; 174.778372
Branch of Department of Internal Affairs
Branches n/a
Size 1,515,172 in General Collections
5,333,500 in Alexander Turnbull Library
Other information
Budget NZ$31,850,000 (2006)
Director Rachel Esson (Te Pouhuaki National Librarian)

The National Library of New Zealand (Māori: [Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa] Error: {{Lang}}: text has italic markup (help)) is New Zealand's legal deposit library charged with the obligation to "enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations" (National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga) Act 2003). Under the Act, the library's duties include:

  • "[providing] for the preservation, protection, development, and accessibility, as appropriate, for all the people of New Zealand, of the collections of the National Library";
  • "collecting, preserving, and protecting documents, particularly those relating to New Zealand, and making them accessible for all the people of New Zealand, in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga; and
  • "supplementing and furthering the work of other libraries in New Zealand; and
  • "working collaboratively with other institutions having similar purposes, including those forming part of the international library community."

The library supports schools through its Services to Schools business unit, which has curriculum and advisory branches around New Zealand. The Legal Deposit Office is New Zealand's agency for ISBN and ISSN.

The library headquarters is close to the Parliament of New Zealand and the Court of Appeal on the corner of Aitken and Molesworth Streets, Wellington.


National Library of New Zealand lobby
The lobby of the National Library

The National Library of New Zealand was formed in 1965 when the Alexander Turnbull Library, the General Assembly Library, and the National Library Service were brought together by the National Library Act (1965). In 1980, the Archive of New Zealand Music was established at the suggestion of New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn. In 1985, the General Assembly Library separated from the National Library and is now part of the Parliamentary Service and known as the Parliamentary Library. Staff and collections from 14 different sites around Wellington were centralised in a new National Library building, officially opened in August 1987. The architecture of the building is said to have been heavily influenced by the design of the Boston City Hall, but direct reference to the Birmingham Central Library should not be ruled out.

In 1988, the National Library became an autonomous government department where previously it had been administered by the Department of Education. The same year, the Library took on the Maori name Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, which translated means: the wellspring of knowledge, of New Zealand.

In early 1998 an ambitious $8.5 million computer project was scrapped.

The National Library building was to be expanded and upgraded in 2009–2011, but the incoming government greatly scaled down the scope of the work, reducing the budget for it and delaying the commencement, arguing concerns about the cost of the project and the reduction in the accessibility of collections and facilities during the construction work. The building closed for two years, reopening in June 2012, while refurbishment continued.

On 25 March 2010 the Minister of State Services announced that Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand would be merged into the Department of Internal Affairs.

In June 2018 a National Archival and Library Institutions Ministerial Group (NALI) was announced. The purpose of NALI was to examine the structure and role of the National Library, Archives New Zealand and Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, the position of the Chief Archivist and National Librarian, and the future of collecting, preserving and providing access to New Zealand's documentary heritage, particularly digital preservation and access. Before and since NALI was set up concern has been expressed about the National Library being part of the Department of Internal Affairs. Under the aegis of Department of Internal Affairs, operations began in 2018 to dispense with 625,000 "overseas published" books, out of a total of overseas published collections amounting to 710,000 items.

In September 2020, the operation of elimination of the overseas published books began to be discussed in the New Zealand media. The National Library attracted both international and local media coverage due to their efforts, now well underway, to eliminate the 625,000 books from its overseas collections. At first it defended the action by announcing that it intended to offer the books to local libraries, prison libraries, and community groups. A partial list of the books earmarked for elimination revealed that many books may be of pertinence to New Zealand/Aotearoan history and on-going narratives. The elimination of over 600,000 books, a large number by any standards, is now being challenged by self-funded opponents to this governmental strategy. The books in question are housed in Whanganui.

National Library of New Zealand/He Tohu

He Tohu Document Room
The He Tohu Document Room, which houses New Zealand's three most iconic constitutional documents

The He Tohu exhibition in the Library is home to three nationally significant documents:

  • Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi)
  • He Whakaputanga (the Declaration of the Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand)
  • Women's Suffrage Petition (Te Petihana Whakamana Pōti Wahine).

The documents were moved from Archives New Zealand on 22 April 2017 under tight security.


Wellington National Library 01
Reading room at National Library [pre-2009], Wellington

The National Library's collections are stored in the main building in Wellington and several other cities in New Zealand. The library has three main groups: the General Collections, the Schools Collection, and the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library. Access to many collections is provided through digital products and online resources.

The General Collections focus on supporting the information needs of New Zealanders through services to individuals, schools and researchers, with notable collections such as the Dorothy Neal White Collection. The Schools Collection contains books and other material to support teaching and learning in New Zealand schools.

Alexander Turnbull Library

The collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library are in the custody of the National Library and are normally held in its Wellington building. Turnbull House, the library's former location in Bowen Street in downtown Wellington, is now managed by Heritage New Zealand. It is named after Alexander Turnbull (1868–1918), whose bequest to the nation included the 55,000 volume nucleus of the current collection. It is charged under the Act to:

  • 'Preserve, protect, develop, and make accessible for all the people of New Zealand the collections of that library in perpetuity and in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga'; and
  • 'Develop the research collections and the services of the Alexander Turnbull Library, particularly in the fields of New Zealand and Pacific studies and rare books'; and
  • 'Develop and maintain a comprehensive collection of documents relating to New Zealand and the people of New Zealand.'

Turnbull collected the works of John Milton extensively, and the library now has holdings of Milton's works which are "ranked among the finest in the world" and "good collections of seventeenth-century poetical miscellanies and of Dryden material, ... along with fine sets of literary periodicals."

Chief librarians of the Alexander Turnbull Library have been:

  • Johannes Andersen, 1919–1937
  • Clyde Taylor, 1937–1963
  • John Reece Cole, 1963–1965
  • Austin Graham Bagnall, 1966–1973
  • Jim Traue, 1973–1990
  • Margaret Calder, 1990–2007
  • Chris Szekely, 2007–present

The Friends of the Turnbull Library (FoTL) is an incorporated society that supports the work of the Alexander Turnbull Library by organising events, activities and offering an annual research grant to a scholars using the library’s resources. FoTL also funds the publication of the Turnbull Library Record which publishes information about the activities of the library and showcases the Library’s collections. First published in 1940, digital issues of The Turnbull Library Record are available through Papers Past.

Turnbull Library Collections

The library houses a number of specialty collections:

  • Archive of New Zealand Music
  • Cartographic Collection
  • Drawings, Paintings and Prints
  • Ephemera Collection
  • Manuscripts and Archives
  • National Newspaper Collection
  • New Zealand and Pacific Book Collection
  • New Zealand Cartoon Archive
  • Music, Sounds and Audio-visual Collection
  • Serials Collection
  • New Zealand Web Archive
  • Oral History and Sound
  • Photographic Archive
  • Rare Books and Fine Printing
  • General Collection of Books relating to New Zealand and the Pacific
  • Turnbull Named Collections.

The unpublished material held by the Turnbull Library can be searched in Tiaki.

Services to Schools

Schools Collection May 2007 2
Books in the Schools Collection

The National Library has been providing support to schools since 1942 and the current service operates from centres in Auckland and Christchurch. Services to Schools has three priorities:

  • reading engagement
  • school libraries
  • digital literacy

School libraries can keep up-to-date with research on school libraries, and gain advice on management, finance and staffing, collection management, library systems, and teaching and learning. Reading engagement encompasses advice on supporting children's reading and children's and young adults literature. Digital literacy supports the school library's role in developing digital literacy and inquiry learning.

Other services include:

  • The Lending Service loans fiction and non-fiction books to schools and home educators
  • Teaching and Learning Resources makes available a range of databases and curated resources to teachers and students. AnyQuestions is an online reference service for all New Zealand school students
  • Professional and Learning Support for school librarians and educators via courses, events and online methods.

National Digital Heritage Archive

Established in 2004, the National Digital Heritage Archive is a partnership between the National Library, Ex Libris and Sun Microsystems to develop a digital archive and preservation management system. A digital storehouse, the system ensures that websites, digital images, CDs, DVDs and other 'digitally born' and digitised items that make up the Library's growing digital heritage collections will, despite technical obsolescence, be preserved and remain accessible to researchers, students and library users now and in the future.

Papers Past

The Papers Past website, run by the National Library of New Zealand, provides free access to digitised newspapers, magazines, journals, letters, diaries, and parliamentary papers from the 19th and 20th centuries. It was launched in 2001.

Index New Zealand

Index New Zealand (INNZ) is a freely accessible online index of articles from journals, magazines and newspapers covering New Zealand and the South Pacific, with some links to the full text of articles.

National Librarians

  • Geoffrey T. Alley, 1964–1968
  • Hector M. Macaskill,1969–1972
  • David C. McIntosh, 1972–1975
  • Mary Ronnie,1976–1981
  • Peter G. Scott, 1982–1996
  • Christopher Blake, 1997–2002
  • Penny Carnaby, 2003–2010
  • Bill Macnaught, 2011–2020
  • Rachel Esson, 2020–present

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Biblioteca Nacional de Nueva Zelanda para niños

Black History Month on Kiddle
Distinguished African-American Artists:
Sharif Bey
Hale Woodruff
Richmond Barthé
Purvis Young
kids search engine
National Library of New Zealand Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.