Wednesday, March 25, 2009


From Barbara Garriock-
Please note this is my personal opinion in response to the recent Listener editorial!

Compare and contrast the two pictures there!

The current National Library was designed in the 1970's. As the architects were working within a book-based paradigm, the building was "fit for purpose", that is, designed to house the physical resources, and provide working space for the people who serviced the collection.The building is a typical example of the "new brutalism" concrete design trend of the 1970's, which unfortunately still continues to emphasise a misconceived stereotypical perception of the National Library - a frowning, forbidding fortress mentality - a portcullis of gate-keeping designed to protect the treasures from the barbarians outside.

The collections and staff are now at risk from the failings of the plant and machinery originally installed to preserve and protect them. Replacement of equipment and repair of leaks cannot happen with the collection and people in-situ.

So while the building is empty, the leaders of the National Library have decided to seize the opportunity to repurpose the space to meet the changed requirements of the preservation of and access to New Zealand's heritage.The proposed design is a visionary leap into the future, yet maintains a balance between the twin poles of preservation and access.

The new building design symbolises this. The walls are transparent, but solid. What was hidden is now open to view. Inside are improved research facilities, particularly for the Alexander Turnbull collection, and public space where facets of the entire collection can be accessed in both physical and virtual ways.

A National Library is not the sole preserve of the professional academic, nor is it a public library. It is a place that coagulates our national identity, preserves our knowledge and encourages the generation of ideas. This country needs an iconic building that reinforces that message to all New Zealanders.

Barbara Garriock

Footnote:
Above was sent to me by a friend, in the library wworld I understand Barbara Garriock is the Chief Librarian for Auckland MIT .

3 comments:

keri h said...

Sunlight & collected print materials do not mix (yes, I know the collections will exist in containers.)Glass and earthquakes do not mix.Setting up e-platforms which will date *extremely* quickly- and devoting an truly undue amount of physical space for them is bizarre. And - talking of brutalist - a fickin' awful
environmentally unsound spiky building for the premier ANZ collections - well, at least in Wellington (I'll still back the Hocken)- is profoundly stupid.

Anonymous said...

Do the last two sentences in Ms Garriock's effusion make any sense?

Bemused said...

As a librarian with many years experience I am not confident that the National Library's plans are for the better. I can't see why it is at all necessary at a time when the economy and the public service are suffering. By all means fix the leaks in the building, but for $70+ million I would expect more than just 10 years more storage and another glass monstrosity. If there are storage problems can we not find other storage solutions off-site.