Close up of pages of an old book.

The donation process

All proposed gifts to the Library must go through an appraisal and approval process. If you are interested in offering us material the first step is to get in touch.

Get in touch first

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

We don't generally accept published material that we already have in the collections. Please check the National Library Catalogue to see if we already have the material you are thinking of offering.

National Library Catalogue

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

Offer material to the Alexander Turnbull Library form

Anonymous donations are not accepted

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. If there is an address we will return the material otherwise the material may be disposed of.

Acquisition overview

We take our collecting responsibility seriously because when we acquire materials it constitutes an indefinite commitment. The decision to acquire materials is made by curatorial staff, the Associate Chief Librarian Research Collections, and the Chief Librarian of the Turnbull Library.

All acquisitions are generally governed by a deed of gift or purchase agreement. Donors and sellers will have the opportunity to discuss and agree on terms with Library staff.

It is important for Library staff to understand donors’ and vendor’s expectations; these expectations will be discussed, negotiated, and once agreed, documented in deeds of gift or purchase agreements.

More about the deed of gift or purchase agreement

Review of materials

To allow the Turnbull Library to make an informed decision, donors and vendors will need to provide information about the scope and depth of their materials, and its provenance. This may take many forms, including an inventory of proposed materials created by the donor/vendor and/or an on-site survey as determined by staff.

As part of this review of materials before transfer, you need to tell us about any materials that may need to be temporarily restricted from research use, either to protect your own privacy or legal rights or those of third parties. In special cases, the Library has mechanisms to limit researcher access for a limited period of time. This decision is agreed to and documented within the deed of gift or sale.

Materials must be stable

Before transfer, donors and sellers may be required to stabilise materials. This may include putting loose papers in folders and labelling files, reviewing and labelling sound and video recordings, or digital media carriers, and checking for environmental contaminants, and labelling and boxing the collections.

Transit of materials

The Library will help to manage safe and professional transit of physical materials and transfer of digital records.

Must have research value

The Library selects materials that best represent evidence of life and work. As part of normal activities, curators, librarians, and archivists may remove some records that provide less research value and are out of scope for the Library collections. Donors may choose to have these materials returned or securely disposed of by the Library.

Materials described and available online

Materials acquired will be described shortly after it has been formally accepted by the Library, and this description will be available online, for world-wide discovery. The Library promotes the presence of all collections, even collections that may not be immediately accessible for research.

The Library acquires materials for their research and cultural value for New Zealand. Materials will be made available and used in the course of research, to the extent allowed by legal agreement, either onsite, online, or through copying requests.

The Library may put materials or representations of materials online to facilitate wider research use.

Deed of gift and purchase agreement

All materials accepted, whether by donation or purchase, are governed by legal agreements.

Deed of gift

The central guiding document for donations is the deed of gift which is comprised of the following:

  • title transfer of the materials from the donor to the Alexander Turnbull Library
  • statements determining the management of the materials, copyright, access, privacy, and management of digital and audiovisual records (if applicable)

The deed of gift is the foundation for conversations between the Library’s stewardship and donors. Through the agreement, the Turnbull Library clarifies as much as possible the rights and responsibilities of all parties pertaining to material donations.

Discussion and negotiation of the terms of the deed is the best way to understand the wishes of the donor and ensuring that those wishes can be executed in the future where possible.

Purchase agreement

Materials acquired by purchase are subject to a similar process. For direct purchases from booksellers, the invoice serves as documentation of legal transfer of ownership to the Library. For the purchase of archival collections, a sale agreement will be negotiated that outlines the following:

  • Title transfer
  • Sale price and payment method
  • Determination or transfer of copyright or licensing
  • Conditions governing access
  • Method of transfer of the materials
  • General terms and conditions

We do not provide financial valuations

We don't do valuations. When offering material to the Library for purchase, vendors must provide a price that will be considered by the Library; purchase prices are generally negotiated between the Library and potential vendors and the Library takes into account research interest, access, restrictions, and licensing of content, as well as market value when determining an agreed price.

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.