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Clark's Facts Wrong And Comments A Cultural Cringe

MEDIA RELEASE

7 JULY 1999

Clark's Facts Wrong And Comments A Cultural Cringe

Helen Clark has her facts all wrong and should apologise to the National Librarian, says Education Minister Nick Smith in response to statements from the Labour Leader on the National Library's collection.

"Helen Clark claims that key collections at the National Library are up for disposal. She specifically mentions a major Shakespeare collection; a Gauguin collection and a work by Camus. Her claims are wrong. None of these collections are to be disposed of. I hope she is as hard on herself as she has been on the Prime Minister for getting her facts wrong. At the very least she should apologise to the National Librarian."

"The disposal of 32,000 items from the National Library's collection is just part of an annual review of the Library's 1.5 million books as per its 1996 Collections Policy. Over 60,000 items are added each year from new purchases, and it is standard Library practice to review collections. The items concerned are non-New Zealand books, more than 20 years old, and have not been accessed or requested in the last decade. External academic and library specialists have reviewed all of the items recommended for disposal. Furthermore, all items are offered free of charge to other New Zealand libraries."

Independent librarians have described Labour's attack on the National Library as "a storm in a teacup". University of Canterbury collections librarian Robin Stevens has said the National Library had been very careful in the way it had gone about weeding out its collection. Every Library, Mr Stevens said, had to review its collection as there was just not enough space for new collections as well as all the old.

"Labour Leader Helen Clark is making a fool of herself. If the only sore she can find to scratch is this non-issue, she really has become desperate. Her inaccurate attack on the National Librarian is a deliberate ploy to develop her image as a friend of the culturally elite. The message for New Zealand is that Helen Clark stands for elitism and not common sense in cultural and heritage policy."

ENDS

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