National Library culling scandal is real - Labour
"Labour is not alone in expressing concerns. We have been asked to respond to the anxieties of librarians, writers, musicians and researchers. In fact, a petition expressing concern about the state of the National Library will be presented to me on Wednesday.
"Helen Clark is correct when she cites works by Shakespeare and Camus, and works about Gaugin, as being among the material tagged for disposal by the National Library.
"It is tragic that the National Library's general collection is being culled. So far this year 31,191 histories and biographies, from the 900s series, have been disposed of.
"Books in the remainder of the general collection, the 0-800s, have been tagged with a white marker, indicating they fall within the 1996 Collections Policy to be disposed of. Photographs are available of these tagged books on the shelves. At a select committee last week, the National Librarian was asked if members could view these shelves and the tagged books.
"The minister, Nick Smith, hides behind the 1996 Collections Policy. This policy had its birth in the 1994 Treasury review of the National Library, which recommended that the collections be run at full cost recovery, or be disposed of.
"For Nick Smith to denounce Labour for running an elitist campaign is plainly ludicrous. If to be educated about the world's literature, art, music and architecture is to be considered elitist, then I have grave doubts about his suitability in that portfolio.
"The National Library used to be the library of last resort. If a majority of city and university libraries wanted, but could not afford an expensive or rare book, the National Library would buy and hold it.
"This policy was changed in 1996, leading to the current restructuring and culling," Marian Hobbs said.