Facebook, chapter one

On 29th May 2013, the National Library of New Zealand, and the Turnbull Library within it, signed on to Facebook. A year later, Chief Librarian Chris Szekely reflects on 12 months of Facebook citizenship, and some of the pictorial highlights of the year.

As of May last year, Facebook had over 500 million active users globally. In New Zealand alone, over half of the country’s population had Facebook accounts, and two-thirds of New Zealand users were under the age of 34. At the National Library we wanted to figure out how our services, activities, and collections could fit into peoples' online lives, and Facebook was offering a way to do it.

Since then, the focus of our page has been on people: staff, users, donors, and the many guests who support us at special events. We've surprised you with how hands-on you can be when you visit; we've provided resources you can use at home and work; and we've given you looks at some of the great things we've supported elsewhere. The response has been great. We'll continue this approach in the coming year, along with an increased focus on the deep and varied collections we hold.

Over the past twelve months we’ve posted hundreds of photographs of the Library’s activities. Choosing just 12 pictures to celebrate our first birthday on Facebook was fun, but quite hard. There were so many great shots I decided to go with a baker’s dozen.

Thanks to photographers Mark, Llewe, Alicia et al in the Imaging Services team for some great photos, and to Reuben Schrader and Jay Buzenberg who manage our Facebook presence.

Night Shift

1 Night ShiftPhoto: Mark Beatty

The award-winning short film Night shift played in the Turnbull Room for 6 months accompanying the National Library Gallery exhibition, Tirohia mai, look at us now. The exhibition ran from June 17th – November 15th 2013, in celebration of the 120th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand.

Written and directed by Zia Mandviwalla, Night shift tells the story of Salote, a cleaner at Auckland International Airport.

Five pistons, a valve and a connecting rod

Five pistons, a valve and a connecting rodPhoto: Mark Beatty

Introducing Curios-047-01/10: five pistons, a valve and a connecting rod, hand cast by Burt Munro. Posted in July 2013, this set of five photographs was one of our earliest Facebook albums, and remains among the most popular.

The items are part of a recently acquired archive relating to Burt Munro, an Invercargill-based motorcycle racer, whose record-setting exploits at Bonneville became the subject of a Hollywood film.

Pictured in white gloves, are the Turnbull Library’s Curatorial Services Leader, John Sullivan and Assistant Curator, Drawings, Paintings & Prints, Denise Roughan.

“These pistons are as much a part of the collections as Katherine Mansfield’s typewriter,” said John.

From Logs to Blogs

Logs to Blogs exhibition with Paul Diamond and Jemaine ClementPhoto: Mark Beatty

Logs to Blogs was an exhibition held in the Turnbull Gallery curated by David Colquhoun. The exhibition ran from 29th July to 28th September and examined a number of the diaries held in the Turnbull Library; from a journal kept on an early Captain Cook voyage through to Sarah Laing’s popular online blog.

Paul Diamond, curator, Maori is pictured here with Jemaine Clement. Mr Clement, of Flight of the Conchords fame, is a descendent of diarist Iraia Te Whaiti.

A new Poet Laureate

Poet LaureatePhoto: Mark Beatty

Vincent O’Sullivan was announced as the country’s Poet Laureate on 16 August 2013, New Zealand Poetry Day. A leading figure in New Zealand literature for over 40 years, he is pictured holding the tokotoko matua, a ceremonial talking stick, which symbolizes the office of Poet Laureate.

Vincent received his own tokotoko, carved by artist Jacob Scott, at a ceremony held at Matahiwi marae in April 2014.

Protect and preserve

5 Nick GuyPhoto: Mark Beatty

One of the most important things the Turnbull Library does is protect and preserve fragile items in the collections. Conservation, as a behind-the-scenes function of the library, seldom receives public attention or recognition. We were pleased when one of our conservators consented to being photographed in action as part of a photo essay to celebrate UNESCO World Audiovisual Day in October 2013. Pictured in a darkened studio is Nick Guy, Audiovisual Conservator.

Talofa lava

Museum Of SamoaPhoto: courtesy of Museum of Samoa

The Turnbull was delighted to receive an approach from the Museum of Samoa relating to its forthcoming exhibition Folauga a Samoa, voyaging is a part of us. The Museum was seeking the use of a number of photographs held by the library.

This picture was taken at the opening of the exhibition in Apia in November 2013. The group is looking at images reproduced from the Turnbull’s photographic archive.

Bright sights

7 Curator Leading EdgePhoto: Mark Beatty

In late 2013, the exhibition Leading Edge opened in the National Library Gallery. Curated by Liane McGee of 45 Design, the exhibition highlights examples of New Zealand innovation.

Liane (left) is pictured with Juliet Arnott, Development Director from Rekindle, a Christchurch-based social enterprise that makes furniture and other useful objects from waste wood.

Sailors and librarians

8 Laura MirebeauPhoto: Mark Beatty

In early December the library hosted a visit from the French Minister for Veterans Affairs M. Kader Arif. The Minister was accompanied by the French Ambassador H.E.M. Laurent Contini, and officers from the visiting French naval vessel FNS Prairial.

The guests were shown a range of First World War items in the collections of both the Alexander Turnbull Library and Archives New Zealand.

Pictured with two French naval officers is conservator Laura Mirabeau (left), and Assistant Curator, Photographs, Kirsty Willis.

Making a Pointe

Sir Jon Trimmer, speaking at a panel discussionPhoto: Mark Beatty

On December 9th the library opened Assemblé in the Turnbull Gallery. Curated by Assistant Music Curator Keith McEwing, the exhibition was a celebration of the Royal New Zealand Ballet’s sixtieth anniversary. The Turnbull Library holds the ballet company’s archive.

Pictured is New Zealand ballet luminary Sir Jon Trimmer, speaking at a panel discussion of current and former dancers held on 22nd January 2014.

Oh Lorde!

Music Librarian Matt Steindl in silent mime with Online Content Coordinator, Jay BuzenbergPhoto: Mark Beatty

The Turnbull Library is home to the New Zealand Music Archive. Every New Zealand music release is acquired and deposited into the collections through Legal Deposit. The library was delighted when New Zealand singer/songwriter, Lorde won big at the 2014 Grammy Awards and celebrated with a modest display. The display included an AV interview harvested directly off the Internet. The clip sparked an internal debate as to whether the sound quality was up to scratch for public appreciation. Eventually it played on a continuous rolling loop, but with the sound turned off. Ironic!

Pictured is Music Librarian Matt Steindl in silent mime with Online Content Coordinator, Jay Buzenberg.

Most Popular Pic

Frances Reiri Smith (left) from Masterton District Library and Vicki-Anne Heikell (right) from the National Preservation OfficePhoto: Chris Szekely

This was the single most popular photograph of the year, prompting a range of positive comments, and lots of thumbs-ups. The occasion was the inaugural hui of Te Rōpū Whakahau ki Te Upoko o Te Ika, hosted by the Alexander Turnbull Library in the Lilburn Room on 18th February. Te Rōpū Whakahau is the national organisation for Māori working in the library, archives and information sector.

Pictured are Frances Reiri Smith (left) from Masterton District Library and Vicki-Anne Heikell (right) from the National Preservation Office. Vicki-Anne is the National Preservation Office Field Conservator, based in the Turnbull Library. She works with community groups and iwi throughout New Zealand, offering advice and training on the care and preservation of locally held archives and paper-based taonga.

A Rare Books moment

group of Victoria University Art History students from the ‘Cultures of Collecting’ classPhoto: Llewe Jones

One of the newly created facilities that resulted from the National Library’s recent refurbishment in Wellington was the Lilburn Room; a teaching space located in the heart of the Turnbull Library general reading room. The room is used to present collection items within a teaching context to students and special interest groups. Over the past year, it has been used a number of times to display items from the library’s collection of rare books and fine printing.

Pictured is a group of Victoria University Art History students from the ‘Cultures of Collecting’ class who visited in March 2014.

Arrange and describe

Marion TownendPhoto: Mark Beatty

Pictured here is A&D librarian, Marion Townend, working on the papers of historian, John Cawte Beaglehole. The Arrangement & Description team works behind the scenes creating metadata and catalogue records for the Turnbull’s unpublished collections. From manuscripts to cartoons, photographs to sound recordings, the team literally handles thousands of collection items every year, and makes them findable.

Marion retired from the library in March 2014 after many years of great service.


To see the latest photos and updates, and find out all about upcoming events at the Library, head over to our Facebook page. In the coming year we'll be sharing images from the collections and a whole lot more.

By Chris Szekely

Chris Szekely is Chief Librarian of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

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Anahera Sadler July 16th at 3:12PM

Mauriora ki a koutou, i te tuatahi, e tika ana ki te mihi ki a koe Chris me āu kaimahi. Kei runga noa atu tō koutou tirohanga ki te ao a ipurangi:)
E ngākaunui ana ahau ki ngā kōrero me ngā pikitia i runga i tō koutou whārangi puka mata. Ko ngētehi kōrero, pikitia hoki he pouri, ngētehi atu he hatekehi, ngētehi anō he harikoa. Kia kaha tonu rā koutou ki te whāki atu ki te ao ngā taonga me ngā pūrākau o tō koutou pātaka mātauranga.

Rangi July 17th at 12:38PM

kapai kare. Rawe

Evelyn July 18th at 11:34AM

WOW and huge congratulations! I loved the contextual intro and then to see how facebook has been used in a thoroughly modern and positive way to inform, to reach out, to connect, and to amaze! Awesome initiative Chris and the ATL team - please simply continue to honour our taonga and our people!