Children’s Collection collecting plan

Find out about collecting and priorities for the Children's Collection.


The purpose of this collecting plan is to describe the extent and scope of collecting to be undertaken and any subject priorities for the Children’s Collections of the National Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library during the period 2021 to 2023. Collecting comprises both published and unpublished material.

This collecting plan was developed in accordance with the collecting principles outlined in the National Library of New Zealand Collection Policy.

National Library of New Zealand's Collections Policy.

Scope of the collection

The published collections covered by this plan include the National Children’s Collection, the Dorothy Neal White Collection, the Susan Price Collection, and children’s material in the published collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library. Also included are unpublished manuscript materials and illustrations.

Collection strengths

National Children’s Collection

The National Children's Collection was started in 1942 and up until 1993 it was the Head Office Collection of School Library Service. It represents an extensive research collection of 123,000 books written for children and young adults.

Most of the books in the collection were published in Britain, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. The majority of the books are written in English, but there are also many books in Māori and Pasifika languages.

The collection also includes resources to support the study of children’s literature.

Dorothy Neal White Collection

The Dorothy Neal White Collection is a heritage collection of about 8,000 children’s books and 3,000 periodical issues published before 1940, with most titles being Victorian or later. For continuity, the collection also includes some more recently published periodicals.

Most of the books in the collection were published in Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. While fiction predominates, non-fiction of a recreational nature is also included. Many of the books were received as prizes from school or Sunday school and many others bear gift inscriptions.

The Susan Price Collection

Susan Price gifted her private collection of children’s books to the Library in 1991. It is owned by the Crown and is intended for long-term preservation and permanent retention. The collection is currently housed in Susan’s home in Wellington.

Most of the books were published in Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. The collection reflects Susan’s passions and interests, and she has focused her collecting on books published since World War II, for children aged between 9 and 18.

The published collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library

The Alexander Turnbull Library has a comprehensive collection of New Zealand and Pacific children’s literature, including a large selection of digital material.
The Alexander Turnbull Library General Collection includes a small collection (approx. 8.5m) of late 19th- and early 20th-century children’s literature, some volumes of which come from Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull’s bequest. Over 500 children’s literature titles dating from 1799 to 2000 are also included in the Turnbull Library Rare Books and Fine Printing Collection.

Collecting principles

The National Library of New Zealand collection policy provides a suite of principles that guide all collecting across the published and unpublished collections by the National Library and Alexander Turnbull Library.

National Library of New Zealand Collection Policy.

The relevant principles from the collection development policy are provided below, with an explanation of how they will be realised for the Children’s collections.

Principle 1

Developing breadth and depth in the Library’s research collections requires decisions to be informed by, and responsive to, current and emerging research trends as well the anticipated needs of future generations of New Zealanders.


The Library will continue to build upon its existing strengths in children’s literature and will expand the scope of its Children’s Collections to include selected works which support research into children’s literature.

Principle 6

The Library takes into account the cost of acquiring, storing, managing and making accessible collection items when building its collections.


To avoid unnecessary duplication across the collections, particularly for New Zealand and Pacific works, all items in the National Children’s Collection will be available for interlibrary loan.

New Zealand and Pacific titles in the National Children’s Collection will be retained in perpetuity.

Collecting priorities

National Children’s Collection

As a selected area of collecting, the National Children’s Collection acquires material from New Zealand and the Pacific, and from more widely overseas. The aim is to further develop an already comprehensive collection that reflects the history and development of children's literature since 1940. The collection supports children's literature research by onsite and offsite clients and via interloan.

Additions to the Collection will focus on these categories:

  • award winning titles
  • a selection of titles that were rated “highly recommended” or given “starred” reviews from each country’s main reviewing journals, with consideration given to showing a representative cross-section of audiences, genres, subjects, themes and voices
  • controversial titles
  • the complete output of selected notable, influential or controversial authors and illustrators
  • one copy of children’s literature print titles received by the Library under legal deposit
  • Selected works which support research into children's literature, including:
    • biographies of authors and illustrators
    • literary criticism and interpretation
    • annotated works
    • history and development of children’s literature

Dorothy Neal White Collection

Where there are gaps, titles are collected to reflect the reading habits of children in the period before 1940. This collection is added to by donation only, and the Library welcomes donations of material that is within the collection’s scope.

Published collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library

  • Children’s material is acquired for the New Zealand and Pacific Collections via legal deposit, purchase and donation, under the Library’s New Zealand and Pacific Published Collections Collecting Plan.
  • New additions to children’s literature in the Rare Books and Fine Printing Collection are made on a case-by-case basis depending primarily on the age and/or scarcity of the item. Major relevant bibliographies and other reference or secondary material is added to the Alexander Turnbull Library General Collection in support of the primary material held in the Rare Books and Fine Printing Collection, the Dorothy Neal White Collection and the National Library Children’s Collection.


The papers of New Zealand children’s authors and illustrators may be collected under the Library’s Manuscripts Collecting Plan.


Original artwork for New Zealand children’s literature may be collected under the Library’s Drawings, Paintings and Prints Collecting Plan.


Mary Skarott, Research Librarian, Children’s Literature, Alexander Turnbull Library
Email —

Dale Cousens, Team Leader, Collection Development (Acquisitions), National Library of New Zealand
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Download the Children’s Collections collecting plan

Children’s Collections collecting plan(pdf, 205KB)

Last updated 2022