No Disposals


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1 November, 2021 (printed edition)

Save Our Books

The writers in this anthology have made a unified appeal for the National Library of New Zealand (NLNZ) to end its policy of disposing of valued ‘overseas published’ books. To our knowledge, “secure destruction” (the term used by NLNZ) of these international research collections has been averted, but NLNZ is trying to disperse our books in other ways. 12,680 books are being despatched to the National Libraries of Greece, Scotland and the Philippines, and to other libraries who have gladly requested the quality literature on offer. Books have been earmarked for organisations such as the NZ Department of Corrections (our prisoners will be better informed than our researchers). Thirty-two cartons are now at the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies at Otago University. 57,000 were donated to Rotary Club, who sold an estimated 7,000 for $2 each; the unsold 50,000 went to a book dealer for an undisclosed sum and may be sold in New Zealand or overseas. The balkanisation of our “wellsprings of knowledge” has begun and must be stopped. There are 600,000 volumes left.
NLNZ tells us that, of these, 428,232 are destined for a scanning facility overseas (Philippines). NLNZ intends to unconditionally give the books to a private U.S.-owned organisation, Internet Archive, who agree to scan as many as they wish and make them accessible digitally on the web. Internet Archive may then sell or otherwise dispose of the remaining hard copies.

Internet Archive stands accused of piracy in an international legal challenge, and a similar organisation, Google’s Hathi Trust, no longer publishes works susceptible to copyright claims (piracy). There are other causes for concern—private providers of virtual ‘libraries’ can disappear, go broke or merge with other companies. The world can change suddenly.

These books are serious volumes of research. Book Guardians Aotearoa have shown how every argument for “secure destruction” or disposal of valued nationally-owned books is flawed (

The New Zealand Society of Authors/ Te Puni Kaituhi O Aotearoa ( and the Publishers Association of NZ/ Te Rau o Tākupu ( have shown how such a “digital” deal would deprive writers of royalties and impinge on copyright. Disposing of valued books is a potential abuse of Section 21 of the Human Rights Act 1993, Section 13 of the NZ Bill of Rights Act 1990, and Article 4 (regarding Toleration of other religions) of the Treaty of Waitangi 1840 (see Keeping our hard copy books is a matter of common sense, and of good legal sense. All librarians I know agree: disposals must cease, lost books must be reclaimed or replaced and acquisition of foreign published books (suspended now for some years) must recommence.

New Zealand is a wealthy, developed, multi-cultural country with a diverse, educated population. We have companies like Phantom Billstickers who work hard to bring poetry and the Arts to the people. Our government should also have a commitment to conserve and promote knowledge for everybody, not to destroy or endanger it.

It is not necessary to give away these books, or swap them for a few digital conversions. The books should be in their proper home in the National Library of New Zealand in Wellington, where readers can access and research them. Three million adult New Zealanders own them and have the legal right to research and access their wide range of knowledge.

Digital conversions overseas will not guarantee their security or ­survival, and the physical books will be lost to us Kiwis. Once they leave the ­country we’ll never see them again. NLNZ should keep its own books, curate its own collections, and scan its own books to complement hard copies, while fully respecting international law.

NLNZ will only change course if we all speak up. You can voice your ­opposition to these disposals by complaining to your local M.P. or writing to the Minister It is crucially important you tell them we should hold on to our books and update our library with new acquisitions. Book Guardians Aotearoa, NZSA, PANZ and these writers have begun the job, it is now up to us all to finish it. Good luck.

W. Direen

Editorial 1 October, 2021

Due to Covid 19 all events opposing the disposal of 650,000 books from National Library of New Zealand were cancelled or delayed. This included activities under the aegis of Phantom National Poetry Day, and the free distribution of the anthology The Ultimate Reader of Love for the Book by Phantom Billstickers.

Today, Phantom affirmed its commitment to printing the Reader and distributing it to cafés in New Zealand (Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu). A lot will depend on developments in the north of the country, regarding lockdown restrictions.

We send our encouragement to everybody working under the duress of lockdown.

For NZ Society of Authors' summary of National Library's criminal desperation, see

Click here for Publishers Association of New Zealand shock at the National Library's "deal" with internet pirates Internet Archive.

For human rights and discrimination issues see:

a) Section 21 of the Human Rights Act of 1993 outlaws discrimination;

the deletion of so many overseas published volumes is an act of discrimination against the heritages of all New Zealanders;

b) Article 4 of the Treaty of Waitangi (verbal "toleration" understanding) concerns the right to freedom of religion and belief (wairuatanga);

deletion of books removes a reservoir of books on the subjects of religion, shared and historical beliefs, experience and culture, from access by "in situ” researchers;

c) Section 13 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 defines the rights and fundamental freedoms of anyone subject to New Zealand law as "The right not to be subjected to torture or to cruel, degrading, or disproportionately severe treatment”;

the deletion of 650,000 books of universal research is disproportionate and degrading.

Check out Tony Beyer's article about this in Communion Arts Journal of Tasmania.

Also see Facebook open forums and blog posts of the sedulous Book Guardians Aotearoa executives Michael Pringle and Christine Dann.


W. Direen

Editorial 9th July, 2021

Mass Book Disposals are being carried out by the National Library of New Zealand/Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa (the wellsprings of knowledge).

If allowed to continue, a fine research library will be gutted. This will deprive New Zealanders of a research portal to their roots. Scholars will have no access to published studies about the rest of the world. Future decision-makers will be denied studies about international reforms, social progress, historical understandings, the heritage of literature, philosophy, linguistics, communications researches and political diagnosis.

640,000 books have been earmarked for disposal. Every week thousands of books are vanishing, stolen from the people of New Zealand. It defies all reason. It defies comprehension. It isn’t as though our country has no space for these books – there are buildings where they might be stored, and which might be called on; other research libraries do this all the time.

The writers in this anthology feel strongly that these disposals must immediately cease. Since the minister in charge is now the only person who can lawfully and openly stop them, please voice your concern by writing to her.

A prepared form should appear if you click on the following link:


W. Direen