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Library Lovers Launch Campaign

The uncertain future of the Alexander Turnbull Library is being drawn to public attention in a campaign launched by The Friends of the Turnbull Library today – the 131st anniversary of the birth of the library’s founder, Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull.

Symbolised by a black lapel ribbon, the campaign seeks to raise awareness about the implications of the National Library’s strategic plan, and halt its implementation as it applies to the Turnbull Library.

“As its official advocates, we are gravely concerned about the Turnbull’s future direction should the proposed restructuring be implemented,” said Rachel Underwood, President of The Friends of the Turnbull Library.

“We urge other concerned New Zealanders to wear a black ribbon on their clothing, to demonstrate their concern for and support of the Turnbull.”

Mrs Underwood says The Friends’ main concerns about the strategic plan are that:

 The plan is primarily a cost-cutting exercise to cover depreciation and computer system costs
 The proposed restructuring effectively subsumes the Turnbull into the National Library
 The Turnbull Library is to be run by a manager rather than a librarian
 The plan requires the Turnbull Library to digitise vast amounts of heritage material – both unnecessary and a great expense to the taxpayer
 Meaningful dialogue about the plan has not occurred.

“In short, the restructuring attempts to transform the Turnbull into something quite different from its original and current purpose as a heritage and research library,” says Mrs Underwood.

Campaigners argue that the restructuring will erode public confidence in the Turnbull, dissuading potential donors and benefactors from making contributions, thereby weakening the Turnbull’s place as a leading repository of New Zealand’s heritage.

The Friends are concerned that some aspects of the restructuring may not be legal, and are currently seeking legal counsel.

“While we have serious concerns about the strategic plan in its entirety, we are, in the first instance, calling for a halt to the implementation of the strategic plan as it applies to the Turnbull Library,” said Mrs Underwood.

“If enough people protest the plan’s changes, there is still time to stop them being implemented.”


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