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national library

National Library of New Zealand

The National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa in Maori) is New Zealand's legal deposit library and a public service department, charged with the obligation to 'enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its interchanges with other nations' (National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga) Act 2003). Under the Act, the library is also expected to be:

  • 'collecting, preserving, and protecting documents, particularly those relating to New Zealand, and making them accessible for all the people of New Zealand, in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga; and
  • 'supplementing and furthering the work of other libraries in New Zealand; and
  • 'working collaboratively with other institutions having similar purposes, including those forming part of the international library community.'

It is said to be unique, as unlike many other national libraries it is an autonomous government department. The library also has links to primary and secondary schools through its School Services business unit, which has 15 service centres and 3 Curriculum Information Service branches around New Zealand. The Legal Deposit Office is also New Zealand's agency for ISBN and ISSN.

The library headquarters is close to the New Zealand Parliament and the Court of Appeal on the corner of Aitken and Molesworth Streets, Wellington.

The National Library building is to be rebuilt 2009-2011, during which the existing collections will be moved elsewhere, see


The National Library of New Zealand was formed in 1965 when the Alexander Turnbull Library, the General Assembly, and the National Library Service were brought together by the National Library Act (1965). In 1980, the Archive of New Zealand Music was established at the suggestion of New Zealand composer, Douglas Lilburn. In 1985, the General Assembly Library separated from the National Library and is now known as The Parliamentary Library. Staff and collections from 14 different sites around Wellington were centralised in a new National Library building, officially opened in August 1987.

In 1988, the National Library became an autonomous government department where previously it had been administered by the Department of Education. The same year, the Library took on the Maori name Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, which translated means: the wellspring of knowledge,of New Zealand.


The National Library's collections are stored in many parts of the National Library building in Wellington, and in several other locations throughout New Zealand.

The National Library divides its collections into three main groups: the National Library General Collections, the National Library Schools Collection, and the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library. The National Library General Collections focus on supporting the information needs of New Zealanders through services to individuals, schools and researchers, with notable collections such as the Dorothy Neale White Collection The National Library Schools Collection contains fiction and non-fiction books, videos and DVDs to support teaching and learning in New Zealand schools. Access to many collections is provided through digital products and online resources.

Alexander Turnbull Library

The Alexander Turnbull Library forms part of the National Library, and is located in its Wellington building. Named after Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull, whose 1918 bequest forms the original portion of the collection, it 'holds New Zealand’s documentary research collections' (National Library of New Zealand Act 2003). It is charged under the Act to

  • 'Preserve, protect, develop, and make accessible for all the people of New Zealand the collections of that library in perpetuity and in a manner consistent with their status as documentary heritage and taonga; and
  • 'Develop the research collections and the services of the Alexander Turnbull Library, particularly in the fields of New Zealand and Pacific studies and rare books; and
  • 'Develop and maintain a comprehensive collection of documents relating to New Zealand and the people of New Zealand.'

The Alexander Turnbull Library's former site at Turnbull House in Bowen Street is now run by the Department of Conservation.

This Library was opened to the public on June 28, 1918

National Digital Heritage Archive

NDHA. Increasingly, New Zealand and the world's cultural heritage is being created and stored in digital form. Institutions are being challenged to preserve and provide long-term access to digital heritage collections under their guardianship.

The National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA) Programme is the National Library of New Zealand's technical and business solution to this challenge.

The NDHA Programme is a partnership between the National Library of New Zealand, Ex Libris Group and Sun Microsystems to develop 'Preservation'a digital archive and preservation management system.

A digital storehouse, the eventual NDHA will ensure that websites, digital images, CDs, DVDs and other 'digital born' and digitised items that make up the Library's growing digital heritage collections will, despite technical obsolescence, be preserved and remain accessible to researchers, students and library users now and in the future.

While ‘Preservation’ is the essential software that will make up the NDHA, the NDHA Programme is concurrently completing significant work to prepare the organisation’s business processes and hardware environment and developing software to integrate ‘Preservation’ with other applications the Library uses to provide access to digital collections.

Digital preservation management is an emerging field and the NDHA Programme is pioneering development. Established in 2004, the NDHA Programme is due to be completed in late 2009.


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