Preservation Statement - Heritage Collections


The Dunedin City Council’s Activity Management Plan - Libraries 2012/13 outlines the purpose and responsibilities of the Library in relation to its service to the citizens of Dunedin City.

One of the goals of the Dunedin Public Libraries is to provide, organise and preserve access to collections in a wide range of print, audio visual and electronic formats, which encourage recreation, learning, leisure and culture.

A further key objective is the development, organisation and preservation of the Library’s Operational and Heritage collections, so that the needs of present and future customers are met and Dunedin’s cultural heritage is enriched.

This Preservation Statement has been developed to guide the attainment of appropriate preservation practices and support the goals and objectives listed above.

Preservation and protection will be based on best practice guidelines, principles and ethics promoted by national and international professional groups.

It is acknowledged that the general framework of this document is modelled on the preservation policy document of the National Library of New Zealand.


The Preservation Statement provides a framework for the preservation and protection of the library’s heritage collections. For the purpose of this document the heritage collections are defined as the McNab New Zealand Collections, the Reed Rare Book Collections and the Special Collections.


The mandate for the Preservation Statement is established by the Library’s Activity Management Plan which in turn is a requirement of the Local Government Amendment Act 2002.

A.H. Reed’s Deed of Gift associated with his donated collections imposed a commitment of responsibility on the part of the Council to maintain these resources in perpetuity.

The Library Manager has overall responsibility for the care of the heritage collections including their preservation. The Library Manager is also responsible for ensuring that the requirements of the Activity Management Plan are carried out.


The Dunedin Public Libraries Preservation Statement for heritage collections will:

  • provide a responsible strategy which can be communicated to donors, ratepayers, the Dunedin City Council and other libraries and interested institutions
  • assist the Library Manager to address corporate accountability requirements at each annual review of the Library’s Activity Management Plan.


It is assumed that:

  • The collections are maintained for recreational, academic, and life-long learning purposes. They preserve the history of the area and provide a shared identity (cultural heritage) for residents of the city and Otago/Southland.
  • Collection items acquired to date and in the future will be preserved to levels consistent with the prevailing physical and financial constraints imposed by Council.
  • The development of preservation services, standards and criteria will provide the framework for the heritage collections to be made available for exhibitions and loans consistent with the Reed Gallery Exhibition Guidelines.
  • Items in the Library’s heritage collections are intended for permanent retention.
  • Access to heritage collections is usually only available on the 3rd Floor of the City Library. Community Libraries and other libraries may have access under certain conditions subject to the decision of the Heritage Librarian. Access will be based on the Guidelines for borrowing items from the Heritage Collections.
  • Dunedin Public Libraries’ Head of Collection Services, Heritage Librarian, and the Bindery and Preservation Team Leader will be responsible for the application of the preservation principles outlined in this document.

Preservation Principles

Application of the Preservation Principles recognises the following:

  • The Heritage Collections are intended for current use and are accessible by all New Zealanders.
  • Where the safety of items may be compromised alternative formats may be generated to ensure on-going access.
  • Where alternative formatting is not practical access may be limited.
  • Where copying for preservation has occurred the original object retains its integrity and meaning, and must continue to be preserved and protected.
  • Tikanga Maori and other appropriate cultural practices will be observed.
  • When an object is accessioned into the heritage collections, the Library has made a commitment and accepted responsibility for the preservation of that object.
  • The integrity and meaning of an object combines a number of values and types of information; including aesthetic, historical, technological, social, and spiritual as well as physical characteristics.
  • Any actions taken to protect an item should always be approached with caution, with the minimum practicable intervention required to promote preservation, and be as reversible as possible.
  • Any such actions should be recorded in in permanent Library records.
  • Preservation issues must be considered when making items from the collections available on a temporary basis for public exhibition.

Principles for the Care and Preservation of Māori Materials

(Adapted from National Library of New Zealand principles)

The following principles are intended to comply with copyright regimes as well as providing a framework to develop the library’s guardianship role.


Dunedin Public Libraries is a guardian of the documentary heritage, of taonga and treasures, which have been collected through purchase or donation. The library acknowledges that taonga (treasures) have mauri, a living spirit that connects a physical object to the iwi, hapū and whānau (kinship groups) involved in its creation. Mauri remains an active part of an item and links tipuna (ancestors) to descent groups.

This concept of guardianship is held parallel to, and in addition to, conventional legislation and intellectual property systems. Guardians take on the responsibility to protect and preserve the physical objects as well as their integrity and significance for future, present and past generations.


Contextual information and descriptive attributions, which acknowledge the mauri of taonga and their connections to iwi, hapū and whānau, will be explored and recorded as fully as possible. Where this information is known the library will seek collaborative relationships with families and descent groups, and draw on these relationships to make decisions about conservation.

Cultural development

Staff with responsibilities for decision making in the areas of conservation and intellectual property, will engage with kaumātua or staff with the ability to promote effective relationships with iwi and hapū.

Such engagement shall not be an acceptable substitute for the development of collaborative relationships with iwi and hapū.

Professional development opportunities, aimed at deepening the cultural understanding of library staff, will be made available.


For the purposes of this document the following definitions apply:

  • Preservation: Procedures and policies for the overall management and care of the collections
  • Conservation: Application of specific treatments carried out to protect collection items.
  • Tikanga: Cultural practice appropriate to the object. Tikanga Maori will be central to preservation of many collections, but it is acknowledged that the understanding and application of other tikanga may be required for the preservation of some objects. An example may be an object coming from a specific religious context.
  • Original object: The object as accessioned whether in analogue or digital media format. The principles and guidelines in the Collections Development Policy 2012 – Heritage Collections will define acquisitions criteria.


Dunedin Public Libraries’ preservation standards, guidelines, services and procedures will comply with the principles of the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992, and work within the framework of the Dunedin City Council’s Health and Safety Policy.

Ongoing changes and developments in both the formats of objects acquired by the Library, and the type of access demands and possibilities, will require the research and development of new preservation standards, guidelines, services and procedures.

Supporting Documents

The Preservation Statement should support the direction and intent of the following documents:

  • A.H. Reed Deed of Gift
  • Reed Special Collections = Whare kohikohinga o Reed : A conservation survey for the Dunedin Public Library. Unpublished report by Jocelyn Cuming. June 1995.
  • Reed Special Collections = Whare kohikohinga o Reed : Conservation action plan, November 1996. Report on achievement to date November 1998 and 1999/2000 actions.
  • Reed Special Collections = Whare kohikohinga o Reed : Conservation action plan, November 1996. Report on achievement to date November 1998 and 1999/2000 actions. Summary of achievements to date: August 2000.
  • Collection Development Policy 2012 – Heritage Collections and subsidiary documents McNab New Zealand collection Policy 2012, Alfred & Isabel Reed Collection Policy 2012, Special Collections Policy 2012.
  • Valuation of the Heritage Collections 30 April 2010; Final Report 3.5
  • Dunedin Public Libraries’ Digitisation Policy [in development]
  • Reed Gallery Exhibition Guidelines
  • National Library Copying Guidelines October 2006
  • Guidelines for borrowing items from the Heritage Collections


Comments and questions on the application of this statement are welcome and should be directed to the Library Manager.


This statement will be publicly available on the Library’s website


This statement has been endorsed by the Library’s Senior Management Team on 4 June 2013 and will be reviewed every three years.