Looking through a corridor with red storage shelving on each side and at the end of the corridor a bookshelf with colourful books.

Choosing materials to offer us

Things to consider if you are thinking about offering us material include context, authenticity, provenance and uniqueness of the materials. Then get in touch with us. We are unable to accept items without prior consultation.


Context is the organizational, functional, and operational circumstances surrounding materials' creation, receipt, storage, or use, and its relationship to other materials. Providing context to the content of historical materials helps researchers understand how and why materials were created or collected, and what they meant to the person or organization who held them.

Often, this is as easy as making sure that file folders and digital directories have labels that explain what the documents are and to what they relate. If, after looking through materials, you realize that they do not speak for themselves, it may be useful to write a memorandum that speaks to the events, activities, and people that these files represent to include with the donation.


Researchers may learn as much about a person's life by the way records are organised as the content of the records themselves. Try to keep materials in a way that is authentic to the way that you produced and used them.

The Library is less concerned about how tidily the materials are organized and much more concerned that we all have the context needed to understand what they mean to you, your whānau, or organisation.


Provenance is information about the origins, custody, and ownership of an item or collection. Suppling any biographical details relating to the person who has created the collection, and any details regarding the provenance of the collection over time, for example, who, when and where the collection was created, and who has owned or held the material over time will help the Library and researchers better understand the history of the items or collections.

Uniqueness or rarity of content

We seek to collect works that come from your hands and your mind, or that you may have collected and greatly influenced you but were never widely available.

The Library is less likely to acquire books, clippings, widely-published articles, or other materials that might be found in a library, newspaper, or journal database.

Privacy of third parties

In accordance with the Turnbull Library’s values and the 2020 Privacy Act, we affirm that donors of archival materials share a responsibility to consider the privacy of third parties. The materials that donors collect in their lives can reveal sensitive information about others.

Donors are responsible for reviewing materials before sending them to the Library, and, when possible, discussing the inclusion of third-party information with those affected by it, and with the appropriate curatorial staff.

Make a bequest or financial donation

Your financial support of the Library is always appreciated. Bequests or financial donations can be made to the Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust or to the Friends of the Turnbull Library.

Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust
Friends of the Turnbull Library

Get in touch

Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss donating your collections to the Library. We cannot accept items without prior consultation with you.

We are unable to accept anonymous deposit of materials. Please do not send books, manuscripts or other materials to the Library without consulting with us first.

Before sending materials to the Turnbull Library, donors and vendors must contact the Library. Contact us through our ‘Offer material’ form.

Offer material to the Alexander Turnbull Library form

Feature image photo at top of page by Mark Beatty.