Overseas Published Collections — collection management project
We are nearing the end of a project to review and rehome up to 600,000 books from our Overseas Published Collections. Find out about the project. We update this page regularly with information about the project.
Page updated 29 November 2021
Latest update from Te Pouhuaki National Librarian
Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library is reconsidering its plans for the Overseas Published Collections in light of concerns raised by the various interested parties, including issues associated with copyright. The National Library will not export any of the OPC until it has considered its options for the next steps.
The National Library has listened to multiple views and worked hard to support New Zealanders’ ongoing access to books from the Overseas Published Collections.
We are aiming to balance our duty to all New Zealanders with the concerns of our valued book sector colleagues and will continue to build relationships with them.
It is part of the National Library’s mission to remove barriers to knowledge, ensure New Zealanders have the skills to create knowledge and preserve knowledge for future generations. We are taking some time to look at all available options that align with our collection plans, while preserving author and publisher interests.
When the project first began mid-2018 it appeared likely that books remaining at the end of the project would face secure destruction. The National Library continues to work to avoid this outcome.
Books from the Overseas Published Collections that fit within the National Library’s collecting priorities, as set out in the 2015 Collections Policy and Collecting Plan, have been identified by skilled library staff and will be retained by the National Library.
The Overseas Published Collections are from the National Library General Collections. No items from the Alexander Turnbull collections or New Zealand publications are part of this project. The Alexander Turnbull Library Collections, which continue to grow, are held as a separate collection in perpetuity.
What we are doing with the Overseas Published Collections
Since 2018, we have been reviewing and rehoming titles from our Overseas Published Collections (OPC), which were part of our General Collection.
This is so we can make room to continue to grow our Māori, Pacific and New Zealand collections and to build well-managed coherent collections that support the National Library’s functions, in line with our legislated mandate and Collections Policy.
Overseas Published Collections titles have been reviewed with input from our stakeholders, including librarians, students and researchers. The National Library listened to the views of the public and staff who were concerned about losing access to the knowledge contained in the books.
By applying principle one of our Principles for retention or deselection of the overseas published collections held by the National Library of New Zealand 2019 criteria, some of the books have been transferred to the Alexander Turnbull Library’s research collections.
Principles for retention or deselection of the Overseas Published Collections
The Principles for retention or deselection of the Overseas Published Collections held by the National Library of New Zealand 2019 document has been created to ensure that due diligence has been applied to the distribution of the Overseas Published Collections.
The document provides visibility to National Library stakeholders and staff directly involved on the distribution/process work and any other interested parties, on the principles to be applied when distributing the Overseas Published Collections.
As this collection has not been reviewed for many years, this exercise is a significant undertaking and principles have been developed to ensure that the publications that are out of scope for remaining in the collection are handled in an appropriate manner.
Following Principle One, our process is to first offer deselected books to New Zealand and Pacific libraries, then to other organisations and lastly to individuals.
Mandate for the review of Overseas Published Collections
The National Library signalled the beginning of the review process in 2015 when the Library’s Collections Policy was widely consulted with the whole of New Zealand’s library sector. Successive Ministers have supported this work and the National Library has been keeping our current Minister briefed on the progress and next steps.
As required by the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act 2003, Ministerial approval had been given for the removal of these books from the National Library.
The Overseas Published Collections project is supported by the library sector including the Council of New Zealand University Librarians (CONZUL), Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA) and the Library Information Advisory Committee (LIAC), which advises the Minister of Internal Affairs.
No items from the Alexander Turnbull collections affected
The items being considered for rehoming are from the National Library General Collections. No items from the Alexander Turnbull collections will be part of this initiative.
The research strength of the National Library lies in the Alexander Turnbull Library which holds an outstanding research collection of published and unpublished New Zealand resources, together with collections of international renown based on the original collecting interests of Alexander Turnbull in areas including rare books, John Milton and voyages of discovery.
The Alexander Turnbull Library Collections, which continue to grow, are held as a separate collection in perpetuity.
Result of Overseas Published Collections review
As a result of the review process, a more focused collection of overseas publications, that meets our collection principles, is being retained in the National Library’s General Collections.
We reached out to libraries in New Zealand and the Pacific, offering them items in the collections. To date, we’ve received requests for just over 12,680 of the books from other libraries in the New Zealand and wider Library network.
We’ve distributed approximately half of these requested items and are working to get the rest to their new homes. Requests for books came from:
- university libraries
- national libraries
- public libraries
- government department libraries
- law libraries, and
- special libraries, such as the Lesbian & Gay Archives of New Zealand, and the Catholic Diocese of Auckland Library.
We are pleased that these books will be able to strengthen existing collections in organisations where there is an associated community of interest. These books remain accessible to researchers, and the public, through the inter-loan system.
Internet Archive agreement
In July 2021, we announced our agreement with Internet Archive to donate books left at the end of the Overseas Published Collections review process, so they can be digitised and preserved, ensuring future access for New Zealanders and global researchers.
The Internet Archive is a Library, that has been lending digital copies of books that they own since 2007 through their Open Library Service. They use controlled digital lending to prevent illicit copying and ensure that copies are loaned to one person at a time much like a public library does with eBooks and physical books.
Controlled digital lending provides a way to ensure protection for content creators as well as the ability for people to be able to access and use the work that's been created. Most of the Overseas Published Collections books are old and non-commercial imprints not currently available as eBooks.
We believe that digitisation is essential for equitable access to knowledge in a changing world. The International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and others have highlighted the degree to which the pandemic has made clear the need for legislation to enable libraries to provide digital access to library holdings.
Open Library Service
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
Controlled digital lending
National Library signs historic agreement with Internet Archive
List of candidate books for donation to the Internet Archive (xlxs, 45MB)
We acknowledge that there have been some concerns about copyright expressed surrounding the donation to the Internet Archive. Allegations of partnership with an ‘internet pirate’ were made by the Publishers Association of New Zealand/Te Rau o Tākupu (PANZ) and the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA). An international copyright lawyer with Tohatoha released a response to those claims, saying they are unfounded.
Opt-out process for rights holders
The National Library is offering an opt-out to any rights holders of the books before the donation is made. Internet Archive will also take down any title they hold at the request of any rights holders if they miss the opportunity to have items removed prior to the donation.
If rights holders opt-out of the donation to the Internet Archive their book will be securely destroyed.
How to opt-out
Email us by 1 December 2021, if you are a rights holder, and would like to remove a title from the donation to the Internet Archive.
You will need to provide proof of rights and the unique number for the title you have identified. The unique number is on the spreadsheet. We cannot process requests that do not include the unique number allocated to a title. Follow the steps below to opt out:
- Check the list below to see if you hold rights to any titles being donated.
- Search the spreadsheet either by author name or publication title. (Pressing the keys “ctrl” and “F” on your computer keyboard will enable the search function.)
- Email us with the titles you would like removed.
- Your email must include proof of rights and the unique numbers of the titles you would like withdrawn. Emails from persons or organisations whose names correspond with rights-holders’ names will be sufficient proof of rights.
Email — firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the list of books
Download the list of candidate books for donation to to the Internet Archive.
If you cannot access this file in Excel email us and we will work to provide the information in a way you can access it.
If you miss the 1 December 2021 deadline
If you miss the 1 December 2021 deadline you can still ask the Internet Archive to take down any books we donate or that have been donated by other organisations.
National Library collections
The National Library has three main collections, the Alexander Turnbull Collection, the General Collection and the Schools Collection.
Alexander Turnbull Library Collection
The Alexander Turnbull Library Collection is the collection that safeguards our documentary heritage and taonga and it is entirely out of scope in this project. This collection is held in perpetuity and includes a wealth of material that represent the broad perspective of New Zealand’s heritage gathered by all its peoples.
Just under half of the National Library’s four million published items are in the Alexander Turnbull Library. This includes many overseas published items such as books by Jane Austen(29 including four different editions of Sense and Sensibility), Shakespeare and Cervantes books (including Don Quixote in Spanish and English), and books about overseas figures such as Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong) including an annotated bibliography of all of his works, selections of poetry and Rewi Alley’s books.
The General Collection
The General Collection is a working collection that has its origins in the Country Library Service before it became part of the new National Library in 1965. Those books were important for supplementing the work of libraries across the country.
The General Collection contains one copy of our legal deposit material for the purposes of lending to other libraries. Legal deposit books are not in scope for this project. It also contains books purchased to support current research interests in the Alexander Turnbull Library.
The books in the General Collection that are deaccessioned have served their purpose and are no longer needed. They are not considered as documentary heritage or taonga.
The Schools Collection
Books in the National Library Schools Collection are fully depreciated after five years as a high-use hardworking collection used in schools up and down the country. They are not considered as documentary heritage or taonga.
Overseas Published Collections — future collecting
The Overseas Published Collections, are part of the General Collection, which began in 1939. They are not one single collection but are made up of an assortment of books from a variety of sources including some material that had been withdrawn from other libraries. Until recently, these books hadn’t been carefully curated for any purpose and approximately 80% of them have not been issued for 20 to 30 years. Less than 1% of these books were used last year.
Local supply from well-stocked libraries, new offerings of large back-catalogues of e-books and audiobooks for the New Zealand reading public have largely replaced the need for some of our overseas published books.
We are not rehoming all the overseas published material. The National Library collections still contain books published overseas. We are committed to ensuring that New Zealanders can access the books that are relevant and of interest to them.
That means a portion of our collection will always be made up of overseas published material. We continue to buy overseas books to provide the lending collection that New Zealanders need. This is especially important given the work with schools on the value and contribution of print collections (both New Zealand and overseas) for reading engagement and literacy of young people.
The National Library acquires between 80,000 to 90,000 electronic and print publications a year that consist of New Zealand, Pacific and overseas material.
The areas of the Overseas Published Collections where we have collection strengths are:
- library and information science
- reference works
- children’s literature
- family history, and
- print disabilities.
We will retain titles in these areas.
Collections policy and collection plans
Our collection needs to work for New Zealanders. A significant part of our role as stewards of Aotearoa’s documentary heritage is to preserve the memory of New Zealand and our place in the Pacific. No other library in the world is going to collect and preserve our stories, that's our job.
We manage our collections in line with our Collections Policy and collection plans. The National Library still collects overseas published material, but the National Library’s Collections Policy puts a focus on collecting New Zealand and Pacific material.
We have consulted about our Collections Policy with a wide-range of stakeholders, with librarians and interest groups. They agree we should be focussing our resource on safeguarding Pacific, Māori and New Zealand content for future generations. We need to make sure we have the right collection for us.
The National Library’s role is to develop, grow and build well-managed collections that are relevant to all of the people of New Zealand.
National Library book collecting
In 2019, more than 167,000 published items were acquired for the collections of the National Library. More than 81,000 of these were New Zealand or Pacific items that are physically stored in National Library, Wellington. These acquisitions include newly published items and older items added to the collections through donations from individuals, groups or other libraries.
Some common questions answered
Have a look at answers to some questions we've been asked a number of times during the project.
More information about what we are doing
- An end to the National Library affair — Newsroom, 15 November 2021
- National Library signs 'historic' agreement to donate 600,000 books to online archive — Stuff, 12 July 2021
- Proactive release of a Department of Internal Affairs briefing regarding the donation of books from the Overseas Published Collections to the Internet Archive August 2021 (pdf, 1.35MB) — DIA website, 3 August 2021
- Proactive release of Ministerial approval and letters from LIAC and CONZUL relating to the management of the National Library’s Overseas Published Collections (pdf, 2.2MB) — DIA website, 25 November 2020
- Is the National Library's 600,000 book cull cultural vandalism or is it about becoming more culturally relevant? — Sunday Star Times, 1 November 2020
- National Library in middle of first major cull of international books — RNZ, 12 September 2020
- In defence of dumping 600,000 books — Newsroom, 17 June 2020
- Why rehoming 600,000 books from the National Library is so important — a blog by Rachel Esson, 30 April, 2020
- TVNZ Breakfast visits the National Library basement to speak with Rachel Esson — TVNZ, 12 March 2020
Thank you and get in touch
Thank you for your feedback and participation in the Overseas Published Collections project. You have helped us to develop and refine our processes such as adjusting our timelines to allow more time for interested organisations and libraries to register their interest.
If you have any questions email email@example.com