Moving house

Moving house is never easy. When I move house I both hate it and love it – the slog and the expense versus the excitement and the fresh outlook that moving can bring.

Traction engine transporting a house, 1948. Accurate depiction of our move back into Molesworth Street. Traction engine transporting a house, 1948. Ref: PAColl-5469-052

The Alexander Turnbull Library has moved a number of times in the last couple of years – out to four separate temporary premises; collections, staff, and services. Now we’re back and re-opened in what is technically the same building we were in for the last 25 years – but wow, what a change!

The General Reading RoomUse the National Library and reference collections in the redeveloped General Reading Room. Imaging Services - Mark Beatty.

The new ATL General Reading Room on level one is where you arrive first. This space is where the collections of the National Library are delivered and can be used. Our carefully crafted reference collections have been re-assembled to allow you to access resources that aren't easily available online.

Using this area is pleasant and easy - you can bring your bag and your water bottle in with you, and pick up the books or serials that you've requested in your own time. Specially designed desks allow you to plug in your laptop and listening posts at the back of the room allow you to hear our growing collection of born-digital music.

Through a secure door, the Katherine Mansfield Reading Room is where you can use material from the Alexander Turnbull Library and the Dorothy Neal White collection. Photograph albums, books, boxes of manuscripts, bound newspapers and all manner of heritage items can be used in this room.

The Katherine Mansfield Reading RoomUse Turnbull Collections in the beautiful Mansfield Room. Imaging Services - Mark Beatty.

You can use your digital camera to capture a quick aide de memoire of a wonderful artefact of the past, you can listen to Oral Histories, and you can dive as deep as you want to go into the minutiae of New Zealand's social, political, economic, educational, and art history until little-known facts are falling out your ears.

But when you move house, you always have that point where you look around and can’t find something really vital. Where is the remote? How do I lock the garage?

Lots of those little (and some no so little) things are still being worked on as we test and refine our new processes and equipment.

The most interesting thing about changing how we go about the business of being a research library is that being in a fresh environment has forced us to really examine why we do certain things – and not others. A genuine spirit of enquiry pervades the library floor right now - a spirit of questioning and practicality which can only lead to good decisions in the future.

Meanwhile, I invite you to come and visit our new (old) house and put us through our paces. We’ll be here for a while, and are now open all day Saturday!

Staff of the Alexander Turnbull Library moving the book collection, 1955. We've taken care of that worrisome tilt. Staff of the Alexander Turnbull Library moving the book collection, 1955. Ref: EP/1955/1550-F

By Amy Watling

Amy is the Online Research Services Leader for the Alexander Turnbull Library.

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