National Library U-turns on plans to cull thousands of books

Source: 1News

The National Library has walked back on plans to cull around 400,000 books from its collection, after concerns were raised by a number of stakeholders.

Rachel Esson

By Jessica Morris

Te Pouhuaki national librarian Rachel Esson told 1News the Library would not export any of the Overseas Published Collections until it considers its next steps.

“We had made the decision to donate to the Internet Archive, and we had some stakeholders who had some concerns. So we offered them the opportunity to opt out of the donation.

“And still some people decided that they wanted us to look at that again. And so we listened to those concerns, and we’re going to do that.”

It comes after the National Library put the call out in 2019 to re-home the publications to make room for more New Zealand, Māori and Pasifika content, a decision that caused controversy among some authors and researchers.

Esson said the library was taking the decision as an opportunity to reassess, but without making space, it would likely have run out of space to hold incoming New Zealand and Pasifika works by 2030.

“No other library in the world has the responsibility and the mandate to collect New Zealand and Pasifika published collections. That's our job, that's why we need to make room to do it.”

The decision means destruction of some of the books couldn’t be ruled out.

“We hope not,” Esson said. “But every option is on the table.”

In an earlier statement, the National Library said the books are overseas publications with an average publication date of 1965-1969 and are rarely accessed.