Rare books on display in the secure reading room.

Access to restricted collections

Some Alexander Turnbull Library collections have access restrictions and require permission to be viewed. Find out about the different access statements and the process for clearing permissions.

Collections available to registered readers

Alexander Turnbull Library collections are requested via Tiaki (unpublished items) or the National Library Catalogue (published items) and made available to registered readers in the Library’s reading rooms.

Large format items, or those with special handling requirements are made available by appointment.

You'll need to register as a reader to access content in these collections.

Register as a reader
National Library Catalogue

Access restrictions

Some Alexander Turnbull Library collections have access conditions. These will be identified in Tiaki or the National Library Catalogue record. If you wish to view these collections, we have a process to help you obtain the permissions that you will need before we are able to make this content available to you.

Time frames for clearing permissions may differ, depending on the items requested and the type of access conditions. Please keep these time frames in mind when scheduling your visit to the Library. An explanation of some of the access statements is outlined below.

Chief Librarian restriction

If an item has a Chief Librarian restriction, you'll need clearance from the Chief Librarian to access the item(s). To do this, please fill in the 'Chief Librarian request for access form' and submit this through our 'Ask a librarian' service.

The time for clearance may take 3–5 working days.

Please keep these time frames in mind when scheduling your visit to the Library.

Chief Librarian request for access form (PDF, 170kb)

Ask a librarian.

Restricted — please use surrogate in place of original

Some collection items have surrogates such as photocopies, microfilm or digital copies. You will be given access to a copy, or surrogate of the original. If you have a research requirement to access the original item, please ask a librarian.

Ask a librarian

Restricted or partially restricted

To access restricted or partially restricted content, you'll need permission from a delegated authority. A delegated authority could be:

  • the donor
  • a representative of the donor, or
  • the organisation who deposited the collection in the Library.

If you place a request for restricted unpublished items through Tiaki, a pop-up message will appear informing you that the items you have requested are restricted. An Alexander Turnbull Library research specialist or curator will email you with further instructions on how to clear the restrictions before you can view the item.

Restrictions managed on behalf of delegated authorities

In most cases, the Library manages restrictions on behalf of delegated authorities. We will provide you with contact details of the delegated authority, so you can contact them to request access. Once you have received written approval, we will record this on your Tiaki reader record, and you'll be able to request or view the items in the Reading Rooms.

The timeframe to clear restrictions depends on how quickly the delegated authority responds. Please keep these timeframes in mind when scheduling your visit to the Library.

Curator required

Permission of the curator is needed before you can access these items. Large format items, or those with special handling requirements need curator approval or assistance. Some collection items have specific requirements, so cannot be made available at short notice. Photographic negatives and transparencies, for example, require 24 hours’ acclimatisation. These items will be made available to you by appointment. Please request the material as usual via Tiaki. A curator will contact you within 5 working days to arrange an appointment.

Please keep these timeframes in mind when scheduling your visit to the Library.

Partly restricted material — this collection is currently in technical processing and will not be available until that is completed

These items are currently undergoing conservation treatment or arrangement and description. The material is not able to be requested until this work is complete. In some circumstances, the relevant curator may be able to grant permission for you to access these items . Please enquire through our 'Ask a librarian' service.

Ask a librarian

Restricted classification under legislation

The Alexander Turnbull Library holds books, magazines, DVDs and music that have a restricted classification under legislation. The catalogue record for such an item will give you details of the restriction. If you'd like to view a publication which has an age restriction, for example, you'll have to bring identification with you when you access the Reading Room.

Under law, no library is allowed to provide access to copies of banned publications. If an item is banned and you still wish to view it, you can apply to the Office of Film and Literature Classification, to get a classification decision reviewed.

Office of Film and Literature Classification website — information about getting a classification changed.

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Any questions? Ask a librarian