Overseas Published Collections — collection management project

We are now halfway through a project to review and rehome up to 600,000 books from our Overseas Published Collections. We update this page regularly with information about the project.

Page updated 14 July 2021

Latest update from Te Pouhuaki National Librarian

National Library Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa has listened to the views of the public and worked hard to support New Zealanders’ ongoing access to books from the Overseas Published Collections.

We have reached agreement with Internet Archive to donate books that are removed from the Overseas Published Collections (OPC) for digitisation, which will ensure free future online access for New Zealanders.

Internet Archive is an internationally reputed, non-profit organisation building a global digital library with a mission to provide universal access to all knowledge.

When the project first began mid-2018 it appeared likely that books remaining at the end of the review process would face secure destruction. We are pleased to have secured the future of these titles.

Books from the OPC that fit within the National Library’s collecting priorities, as set out in the 2015 Collections Policy and Collecting Plan, will be retained by the National Library. Books remaining for deselection at the end of the review process will be donated to Internet Archive for export to their digitisation facility.

Permission to export the collection from the OPC has been granted by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage under the Protected Objects Act 1975.

Internet Archive has agreed to make digitised copies of the books publicly available through its Open Library Service using Controlled Digital Lending within two years of receipt.

Controlled Digital Lending is the way of limiting lending within current copyright law. You can find out more about Controlled Digital Lending on the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) website.

The agreement explicitly provides for the removal of any OPC material from its Open Library Service at the request of the rightsholder of any item.

In addition, I have asked that authors be given the opportunity to opt-out before the donation process. Authors will be given the opportunity to check the next set of book lists released to libraries. Authors can request that specific items, for which they hold rights, are not sent to Internet Archive

Following digitisation, the books will be transferred to Internet Archive’s physical archive facility in the United States for long-term storage and preservation.

Books from the OPC that fit within the National Library’s collecting priorities, as set out in the 2015 Collections Policy and Collecting Plan, will be retained.

The interlibrary loan system enables access to physical copies of these book titles through your public library.

With stakeholders notified, the National Library can resume the review process. We will engage with the library sector and peak bodies to agree how best to proceed.

Open Library Service
International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

What we are doing with the Overseas Published Collections

We are rehoming some of the books from our Overseas Published Collections, which are part of our General Collection. This is so we can make room to grow our Māori, Pacific and New Zealand collections and we can continue to build well-managed coherent collections that support the National Library’s functions.

The National Library signalled this review process in 2015 when the collection policy was widely consulted with the whole of New Zealand’s library sector. Successive Ministers have supported this work and the National Library has briefed our current Minister 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.

To date, we’ve received requests for just over 10,000 of the books from other libraries in the New Zealand and wider Library network, applying our Principles for retention or deselection of the overseas published collections held by the National Library of New Zealand 2019 criteria. We’ve distributed 3,000 of them and are working to get the rest to their new homes.

About 50 percent of the Overseas Published Collections titles have been reviewed with input from our stakeholders, including librarians, bibliophiles, students and researchers.

By applying principle one, some books have been transferred to the Alexander Turnbull Library’s research collections. Additionally, a more focused collection of overseas publications will be retained in the National Library’s General Collections.

Requests for books have come 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.

I am 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 interloan system.

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 Zealalnd 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.

Principles for retention or deselection of the Overseas Published Collections held by the National Library of New Zealand 2019 (pdf, 170KB)

More information about what we are doing

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.

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 29 Jane Austen books (including 4 different editions of Sense and Sensibility) more than 400 Shakespeare books, more than 30 Cervantes books including Don Quixote in Spanish and English, 16 books about 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.

What are the Overseas Published Collections?

The Overseas Published Collections, are part of the General Collection and are not one single collection but are made up of an assortment of books pulled from different libraries since 1939 — within New Zealand and overseas. These books haven’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.

Overseas Published Collections — future collecting

We are not rehoming all of 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 we will retain are:

  • library and information science
  • music
  • reference works
  • children’s literature
  • family history, and
  • print disabilities.

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 collect 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 most of the people they serve.

National Library of New Zealand Collections Policy

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.

National Library makes more room for New Zealand and Pacific stories — Media release

Some common questions answered

We are halfway through the project to review and rehome 600,000 books from the Overseas Published Collections. Have a look at answers to some questions we've been asked a number of times during the project.

Rehoming 600,000 books from the New Zealand National Library — some common questions answered

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 opcmanagement@dia.govt.nz

Book lists — these lists are closed

Libraries and organisations were able to register their interest in books from the lists below. We have priortised requests from inter-library loan libraries first.

The first phase of rehoming books began late 2019. The book lists for this project have been available on the website from October 2019 to October 2020.

The book lists below are provided for information only as expressions of interest have closed for these books.

If you cannot access these files in excel get in touch and we will work to provide the information in a way you can access, email opcmanagement@dia.govt.nz.