Collecting plan – Overseas Published Collections: 2016-2018

Find out about collecting and priorities for the Overseas Published Collections.

Purpose of this plan

The purpose of this collecting plan is to describe the extent of collecting to be undertaken and any subject priorities for the non-New Zealand and Pacific component of the General Collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library and the National Library’s General Collections during the period 2016 to 2018.

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

The purpose of the Alexander Turnbull Library General Collection is to preserve and provide access to current and historical printed and digital material, published overseas, to support research in New Zealand. The collection is intended for use at the Wellington premises, when clients are unable to obtain the material elsewhere, and is preserved in perpetuity.

The National Library’s General collections and National Children’s Collection are available for use both onsite at the Library’s Wellington premises and through New Zealand and overseas libraries via inter-library loan. The Dorothy Neal White Collection is only available for use at the Wellington premises. The Susan Price Collection is only accessible by appointment.

Scope of the collection

The collections covered by this plan include the non-New Zealand and Pacific components of the National Library’s General Lending Collection, General Serials Collection and General Reference Collection, the National Children’s Collection, the Dorothy Neal White Collection, the Susan Price Collection and the Alexander Turnbull Library’s General Collection in its entirety.

National Library General Collections

Since 2003 the National Library has increasingly been focusing its collecting of published resources to those relating to New Zealand and the Pacific. This is in accordance with its purpose as defined in the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Matauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003.

The 2003 revision of the Library’s Collection Policy designated six non-New Zealand collecting areas for the National Library’s General Collections: library and information science, music, reference works, children’s literature, family history and print disabilities. Collecting for these areas was based on known client demand and existing collections of some strength. Collecting was at a level to support the basic informational and recreational needs of an educated general public and the independent study needs of the lifelong learner. All of these collecting areas are covered by this plan excepting music, which has a separate plan.

The Alexander Turnbull Library General Collection

The Alexander Turnbull Library General Collection was originally based on the collecting interests of Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull. It is particularly strong in 19th and early 20th century English literature, but includes also accounts of voyages and travels, works about Milton, the history of the book and bibliographies, as well as many historical library catalogues, biographies, family history resources, limited and first editions, fine printing, examples of 19th and early 20th century trade bindings, and children’s books dating from 1831 onwards. There are also over 30 named collections covering many subjects. These are the personal libraries of New Zealand individuals that have been donated to the Library in the past.

The following are not collected:

The Library no longer generally collects formed collections or personal libraries, unless there is significant provenance or textual content not available elsewhere in New Zealand.

Also excluded from this plan are areas with their own collecting plans.

Collection strengths

Alexander Turnbull Library General Collection

  • 19th and early 20th century book production
  • Literature supporting research on the works of John Milton
  • Literature supporting research on the history of the book
  • Bibliographies

National Library General Collection

  • Children’s literature
  • Resources for New Zealand family history research

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.

The relevant principles from the collection development policy are provided below, with an explanation of how they will be realised for the New Zealand and Pacific collections.

Principle no 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 as the anticipated needs of future generations of New Zealanders.


The Library will continue to build upon existing strengths of the ATL General Collection and to be responsive to emerging research trends.

The Library welcomes discussion with any part of the research community regarding collection of publications to support research that is in scope of the ATL General Collection.

Principle no 3

The Library has an important leadership role in collaborating and coordinating collection related activities across institutional and national boundaries to enable New Zealanders to connect to information important to their lives and to support a strong documentary heritage and tāonga system for all New Zealanders.


Continuing support for New Zealand’s EPIC (Electronic Purchasing in Collaboration) consortium.

Principle no 6

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


Continuing preference for subscription electronic resources over hard copy for overseas material selected for the National Library’s General Collection.

Determining retention of the National Library’s existing General Collections by reviewing usage, continuing information value and assessing the availability of open access digital versions.

Principle no 8

For content in the National Library’s General Collections other than New Zealand and the Pacific focus area, the Library will facilitate access for users in preference to acquiring and owning such content.


Continuing, whenever possible, to purchase overseas publications for the National Library’s General Collection as subscription electronic resources.

The Library will work towards providing offsite access to many of its subscription electronic resources by the end of 2017.

Continuing to monitor the delivery of audio-books electronically across New Zealand.

Collecting Priorities 2016 – 2018

Alexander Turnbull Library General Collection


Works which support specialist areas in the Turnbull Library collections, especially material relating to the works of John Milton and the history of print culture.

Limited collecting to augment Alexander Turnbull’s collection of English literary work of the 19th century and early 20th century, first or significant editions, illustrated limited editions and other examples of book craft from that period.

The National Library’s General Collections

Family History

  • Monographs and serials to support New Zealanders’ family history research
  • Specialist family history tools, including birth, death and marriage indexes, census indexes, probate indexes, monumental transcriptions, shipping passenger lists
  • Historical newspaper databases

Reference Works

  • Standard reference works and bibliographic resources

Contemporary world issues

  • Monographs on contemporary issues of relevance to New Zealand as a member of the international community (examples include but are not limited to: climate change, wars, issues about medical research)

Library and Information Science

  • Titles with a focus on emerging issues
  • Titles which support the Library’s leadership role in the New Zealand library sector
  • Recreational reading, both fiction and non-fiction, in a wide range of genres for adults, young adults and children with print disabilities

Children’s Literature

National Children’s Collection priorities

Selective additions, mainly comprising:

  • Award winning titles
  • A selection of titles that were rated “highly recommended or given “starred” reviews from each country’s main reviewing journals
  • Controversial titles
  • The complete output of selected notable, influential or controversial authors and illustrators

Dorothy Neal White Collection priorities

  • New Zealand and overseas children’s books published before 1940

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

Susan Price Collection priorities

  • A private collection donated to the National Library, to which Susan continues to add the best English language books written for children from 1930 to the present day.

Download the Overseas published collections collecting plan

Overseas published collections collecting plan (pdf, 182KB)