John Needham (collector) – on what happening in our libraries.“Yes indeed. A library I won’t name was withdrawing a huge amount of amazing books. I offered to buy them ‘no’. Can I donate $ to the library to take what I want ‘no’. This was just before Christmas so I suggested giving $1000 to a local food bank in their name (and providing a receipt/proof) still no. But it was ok by them because they would get recycled into egg cartons by the company they presumably paid to take them away“
Opotiki, Gore, Titahi Bay and Waikanae, libraries have been shuttered within the past year due to toxic mould. Same excuse mould/ earthquake engineering, which as the very public fiasco of the unnecessary closure of the Southland Gallery & Nelson Trafalgar centre on the basis on nonexistent structural weakness show (both closed by bureaucrat Clare Hadley in both cases) was an utter fiction of convenience.
So what gives??
In Invercargil’s case closures coincided with the land grab by Richardson Transport who are becoming dominate players in Invercargil CBD earthquake structured motivated redevelopment. Like wise in Wellington city council staff can be found suggesting that property developer “may be willing to purchase the existing library building, remediate it and lease council the space..It would be a kind of permanent public-private partnership (PPP). It come as the government plans another Public Private Partnership with Microsoft. In October 2020 it was announced Microsoft’s plan to open its first data centre in New Zealand where it will become a private bank of knowledge if you will. Prime Minister Adern stated “It signals to the world that NZ is open for business and quality investment,” Ardern said.
Communications Minister Kris Faafoi said the data centre, whose clients would include numerous New Zealand government departments, would provide near-term construction jobs and longer-term digital economy opportunities. “It should also be a boon for large customers of Microsoft’s cloud computing services, which include Fonterra and Spark.And it will give Microsoft a cloud computing performance and data sovereignty edge“ on rivals Amazon Web Services and Google” competitors in a new area where data (knowledge) is a form of virtual gold.
Data sovereignty comes into play when determining whose law applies to data stored in a specific location. It can also involve indigenous concerns over government or corporate entities storing or owning indigenous data or intellectual property. For example America’s CLOUD Act 2018 has American law claims jurisdiction over data stored by a company connected to the United States, “even if the data itself is stored outside US borders”.
As closed signs pop up, collections are looted, purged, knowledge is moved out of reach of public researchers, developers and ‘used’ smart technology – banker hyenas move in.
“Internal Affairs briefing, Hon Tracey Martin, Minister of Internal Affairs Title: Management of the National Library’s Overseas Published Collections. Date: 11 December 2018 Action sought: Approve the removal of all overseas publications from the Overseas Published Collections, excluding those in subject areas identified as collecting priorities in the Overseas Collecting Plan, and in alignment with the 2015 National Library Collections Policy. Note that due to evidence of low demand and the age of the material, secure destruction of removed items is the most likely outcome”.
The politics behind this is covered in this excellent August 2020 article by the spin off. Meanwhile around the country a growing number (were adding unfortunately to this link farm all the time as we set out to document the scale of this knowledge purge) of galleries and library’s are also shutting or their is talk of privatising libraries.
In 2010 Cabinet approved incorporation of Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand into the Department of Internal Affairs. It was justified on financial grounds.
It was claimed that the incorporation would lead to:
the futureproofing of both entities
lower corporate overheads
the achievement of cost savings and economies of scale
the provision of support for digitisation with less risk and cost
the maintenance of public accountability by continuing separate budget votes and annual reports.
Once implemented, the incorporation was said to be part of the “wider machinery of government changes to improve the performance and service delivery of public sector agencies.” As Scoop Wellington’s well known parliamentary news website reports “Lower overheads have not been achieved. Service delivery has not been improved, and services are being further cut back. Declining expenditure, it can be argued, is evidence of deliberate under-funding, not the achievement of cost efficiencies, or the provision of proper support for important legally mandated roles”. The full article detailing these claims is yet another article well worth reading that documents how New Zealand’s national archives are being opened wide to the tomb raiders of knowledge by an enemy within.
In 2019 The National Library in Wellington declared it was withdrawing 600,000 books from its overseas collections, to make room for the library’s growing New Zealand and Pacific collection. The withdrawn books free up more than 24,000 metres of shelf space for new books. The National Library’s Director of Content Services Rachel Esso told RNZ
The Guardian reported “six hundreds of thousands of valuable and important books on religion, race, health, feminism and psychology will be removed in the cull, including works that are now out of print, and in some cases unable to be found anywhere else in the world”
Books culled include a first edition of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, which sells for upwards of NZ$1,000. That copy was rescued by a North Island library, while the entire Holocaust collection found a home with the New Zealand’s Holocaust centre, after it was alerted to the situation by Victoria university historian Dolores Janiewski. The claims that the books are being ‘re-homed’ and sent to other libraries in these two case can be backed. Yet worryingly so can the documentation that large number of specialist books are not being re-homed or the new homes are themselves temporary. As library around the country can be found in turn culling collections of specialist books as they launder them though ‘charity drives’ or they simply get turned into egg cartons. While only 25% of the books culled have being digitalised.
“Some of the books are very valuable so I have been extremely disturbed by this plan, and distressed,” Janiewski, told the Guardian “I am very concerned at where the books will end up. Who they are letting take the books away is unclear, as is whether they will ever be accessible again.”
The Guardian requested an interview with the national librarian of the National Library, Bill Macnaught and internal affairs minister, Tracey Martin who to date have decline the request.
So why this happening in the manner it is?
The Spinoff astutely states “Why is this being done so quietly? Why is it being done so quickly? The library asserts that these are books we no longer want, need, or can afford to house. But it hasn’t actually asked most of the people who might want continued access to them, and for most of the last year it’s kept very quiet about the process”.
The Barbarian in Chief Internal affairs Tracey Martin denys that books are being destroyed.
Martin called such claims “bullshit” and has declared she refuses to listen to such claims.
This is despite her own official briefing explaining to her directly that this is literally what will take place. This is in addition to the fact that the number of voices who able to prove that libraries are in fact literally being plundered and books including specialist and rare collector items are actually being destroyed and vanished from collections continues to grow. Claims that come with specific details that document that many important and valuable books are not being “re-homed” but that specialist knowledge is being removed from public’s reach.
Death To Intelligence:
And this cultural appropriation is occurring not just in archives and public libraries but in the education and research sector too: The School Library Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (SLANZA) is launching a nationwide campaign to highlight the plight of our school libraries. SLANZA is deeply concerned about the demise of school libraries in Aotearoa. It is estimated that of the 2500 schools in New Zealand only 900 have a library.
Professor Stuart McNaughton’s recent report entitled “The literacy landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand” states that 52% of 15 year olds only read if they have to and 28% think reading is a waste of time. This national report of the literary well being of the nations does not mention school libraries once and yet we know from international research that schools with a well-resourced library and specialist library staff positively impacts learning outcomes across all year levels.
As some one dyslexic this point resonates with me personally and deeply. For it was libraries (along with coming from a families of readers) who taught me my love of books and helped me adapt my own learning deviance so it was a benefit not a hindrance where conventional teaching had failed to reach me. Libraries are being closed, relocated to hallway cupboards shared by truants, they are having their budgets slashed into non existence.
“Cutting student access to the National Library’s specialist non-fiction books has been a long time coming, according to one Marlborough principal, Tania Pringle says her students are losing a valuable resource. The library announced it would be cutting its curriculum topic support service from term three. Instead of being sent hard-copy books, students would instead be directed to “curated online resources”.
Low decibel high schools trying to raise literacy rates can only fund their library with $1000.00 a year to operate and are force to buying books from op-shops to stock their shelves. These horror stories should not be acceptable in New Zealand and yet they are a reality. Largely in part because the public not being told the full story or is aware of the full scale of the destruction taking place.
The 2018 a sit in protest at Auckland University’s library made TV news.
Incredibly what was omitted from the story was the precise reason the students were protesting to start with. The key fact left out of the TVNZ story was the Auckland University decision to cull it world famous fine art library.
On Radio however New Zealand Auckland University’s vice chancellor Stuart McCutcheon The University of Auckland stated the decision to close down three specialist libraries and cut more than 100 jobs in support services was cost cutting exercise but he dismissed the notion books with specialist knowledge were being destroyed during the book cull.
Yet a staff member “who helped close down the engineering library over a year ago told RNZ about 10,000 books were incinerated because it was the cheapest and quickest way to get rid of stock”. An official review of the existing libraries found these books were no longer “fit for purpose, with issues around restricted access, inefficient and costly use of space, restricted shelf space, noise, poor disabled access, health and safety risks, lack of control of temperature and humidity, and the risk of damage to the collections”.
There is according to the country minster and university executives no money to house books.
Yet apparently there is money to buy a $5 million dollar smart tech fitted mansion for the new incoming vice chancellor as the university accepts grants from tech companies like Microsoft and Lockheed Martin. Tech companies critical to the success of the US driven Pacific Reset which marks the USA entry into the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership with it emphasis on intellectual property an knowledge based economies. Strategic power blocks who in turn are keen to see New Zealand education facilities become their dependent clients reliant on their products alone and be given a sanctioned monopoly of all of New Zealand’s archived data/knowledge ore. These large tech war lords recognise the commodity dollar value of the knowledge stored in our archives and libraries and they see their parent institutes as virtual piggy banks. Dragon hoards worth a fortune in data dollars and these cyber conquistador want access to all that public treasure currently placed in the guardianship of our state centres of learning and knowledge.
The barbarians are truly at the gates.
Related articles or examples of library museum gallery closures: