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National Library Signs Historic Agreement With Internet Archive

News: 13 July 2021

Department of Internal Affairs media release.

Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa National Library has reached an historic agreement with Internet Archive. All books left at the end of the Overseas Published Collections (OPC) review process will be donated to Internet Archive, so they can digitise and preserve them, ensuring future access for New Zealanders.

National Librarian Te Pouhuaki Rachel Esson says the National Library has listened to the views of the public and staff who were concerned about losing access to the knowledge contained in the books.

“These books will now be part of a global digital library, going from being very rarely accessed and used, to providing universal access to this knowledge from anywhere and at any time.

“When the project to review these overseas books first began mid-2018 it appeared possible that books we chose not to keep, and that other libraries didn’t want, could face secure destruction. This agreement will not only ensure ongoing access to these books, but also ensure they are preserved.

“It is part of the National Library’s mission to remove barriers to knowledge, ensure New Zealanders have the skills to create knowledge and preserve knowledge for future generations. The average date of publication for these overseas books is between 1965 and 1969. With most of them out of print, digitisation is a key way forward with this important mahi,” says Ms Esson.

Books from the OPC that fit within the National Library’s collecting priorities, as set out in the 2015 Collections Policy and Collecting Plan, will be retained. Some books are being transferred to libraries in the New Zealand, Pacific and global library networks and continue to be accessible via interloan.

Books remaining for deselection at the end of the current review will be sent to an Internet Archive digitisation facility. Permission to export the collection from the OPC has been granted by Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage under the Protected Objects Act 1975.

Following digitisation, the books will be transferred to Internet Archive’s physical archive facility in the United States for long-term storage and preservation. The Internet Archive is paying for packaging, transport and digitisation.

“This donation from the National Library of New Zealand will expand our library’s collection in meaningful ways,” says Brewster Kahle, Internet Archive founder.

“Given the age of these books, the Internet Archive is unlikely to receive them from other sources, so this is a real opportunity to preserve the books and make them available for digital learners all over the world to borrow online. In this way, the National Library of New Zealand is contributing to the world’s digital future at a time it is most needed,” says Mr Kahle.

Internet Archive will make digitised copies of the books publicly available through its Open Library Service in two years using Controlled Digital Lending, which means each title may be borrowed by one person at a time. The Internet Archive has agreed to remove any OPC material from its Open Library Service at the request of any rights holders and have a takedown policy.

In addition, says Ms Esson, "I have asked that authors be given the opportunity to opt-out before the donation process. Authors will be given the opportunity to check the next set of book lists released to libraries. Authors can request that specific items, for which they hold rights, are not sent to Internet Archive.”

Updated on 18th August 2021