Country Library Service - Mobile Books!

A DigitalNZ Story by Zokoroa

This story gives a snapshot history of the Country Library Service and its bookvan and loans services, sprinkled with some anecdotal memories about the National Library Hamilton Regional Centre.

Country Library Service, National Library, School Library Services, Libraries, Bookvans, Librarians, Books, Hamilton

Memory Lane

Do you remember the days when the bookvans from the Country Library Service / National Library would visit your local community? Maybe you were one of the Field Librarians that drove vanloads of books, bringing joy to regional outskirts.  Or one of the 'behind the scenes' team at the regional offices in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Christchurch or head office at Wellington. This story gives a snapshot history, sprinkled with some anecdotal memories about the National Library's former Hamilton Regional Centre.

Jan 1950: Back at Hokianga.

Motoring and Roads

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

1969: Choosing books in Wellington.

Country Library Service bookvan

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

1988: 'Newer' model of bookvan at Shannon Library, which operated from the Palmerston North regional centre (PCL / PN).

Dylan Owen (field librarian) with National Library van outside Shannon Library, 1988

Kete Horowhenua

In a nutshell: 1938 - 1988 

This story commemorates the fifty year journey of the Country Library Service and its bookvans which began in 1938 and evolved into becoming part of the National Library of New Zealand's Extension Division in 1945. Following the amalgamation of local body government, the bookvans ceased operation in 1988. Field Librarians would load up their bookvans from the 'Adult' collection at the regional centres in Hamilton, Palmerston North and Christchurch, which also housed the  'Schools' collection (School Library Service - SLS).  Then they'd set off for days on end visiting small rural libraries, prisons, mental health hospitals, forestry camps and military bases to exchange loans. 

1946: Bookvan arrived in the Hokianga.

Hokianga Country Library Service

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

1955: Visiting Kawerau.

Unidentified woman with the Country Library Service van, Kawerau

Alexander Turnbull Library

1958: Selecting books off the bookvan.

Country Library Service.

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

1972: Choosing books at Rāhotu, Taranaki.

Country Library Service van

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

June 1972: Bookvan at Ngapaenga in the Waitomo District.

Child photographed against shelves of books

Alexander Turnbull Library

INITIAL concept of TRAVELLING LIBRARies

The Munn-Barr report (1934) on New Zealand libraries identified the need for a planned and integrated national library system. It also noted the following about the Workers' Education Association: "The Canterbury branch operates a bookmobile, or travelling library, which carries book supplies throughout its territory. This is an interesting experiment in rural library service which may provide valuable data in connection with a more general library service to country residents." (p.47)  

Munn-Barr report (1934) recommended a National Library be established

The report by Ralph Munn and John Barr noted the WEA travelling library initiative.

The Munn Barr report on libraries

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Co-author John Barr was chief librarian of Auckland Public Library (1913-1952)

Ralph Munn was at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, United States.

John Barr

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

In 1925, Prof James Shelley (Univ of Canterbury) started WEA Box Scheme

Workers' Education Association groups received a box with study notes, gramophone records & books on literature & arts.

Chapter 3 — Shelley's Rural Schemes - Geoffrey Alley, Librarian: His Life & Work

Victoria University of Wellington

Each WEA study group of up to 20 people retained the box for a week

After a week, the box was forwarded on to the next group, until the box circulated to 7 groups.

Canterbury WEA summer school

Alexander Turnbull Library

In 1929, Shelley proposed a tutor & a car travelling library for WEA study groups

Funding was granted by Carnegie Corporation of New York (1929) & a 1926 Ford Van fitted out with new books.

CAR travelling library

Alexander Turnbull Library

The first travelling library tutor was Geoffrey Alley (1930-1933) who reported on the first two years of his work in his MA thesis, 'An Experiment in Rural Adult Education'.   

Travelling library operated with Geoffrey Alley (one of Shelley's BA students) as tutor/driver (1930-1933)

March 1931: Library Car with Professor J. Shelley, G.T. Alley, G. Worthington and Miss Joan Osborne.

Library Car, Christchurch

University of Otago

Florence Polson, the President of the Women's Division of the Farmer's Union, had also started a book club at Marton in 1927. Parcels -  two books, magazines and children’s books - were carried for free to subscribing members by NZ Railways. (See Te Ara and Rural Women New Zealand

1927: Florence Polson, President of the Women's Division of the Farmer's Union, started a parcel book club at Marton

Florence Ada Mary Lamb Polson

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

BegiNnings of Country Library Service (CLS): 1938

In October 1935, the Government issued 'The Government's National Library Service' (Memorandum no. 34). The four-page statement began by saying: "It is the Government's intention to organise a National Library Service with a view to assisting small country libraries and to provide facilities for districts which have no libraries." Initially a national central lending library was to be set up. At a later stage, a number of regional depository libraries would be established which would operate travelling libraries as part of their service. "Details of this ultimate stage are being worked out," the Memorandum said. 

30 May 1938: Official inauguration of CLS with PM Michael Joseph Savage, Cabinet members & library community members.

Official inauguration of the New Zealand Country Library Service

Alexander Turnbull Library

The outcome was that the Country Library Service began in 1938 with Geoffrey Alley appointed as its Head Librarian / Director. Bookvans were sent from Wellington to small-town libraries and isolated rural areas where people had set up a lending library in their home for the locals to access.

Minister of Education Peter Fraser set up the Country Library Service (CLS).

Peter Fraser, Minister of Education when the Country Library Service was established. S.P. Andrew Collection, Alexander Turnbull Library, F-20106-1...

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection

Geoffrey Alley who was involved with setting up a WEA van service in Canterbury was appointed as the head of CLS.

Geoffrey T. Alley, Officer in Charge — and Director Country Library Service 1937-1945, — Director National Library Service 1945-1964, — National Li...

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection

An account of Alley's life (1903-1986) & creation of the Country Library Service, written by W. J. McEldowney, 2006.

Chapter 7 — Anni Mirabiles: Country Library Service - Geoffrey Alley, Librarian: His Life & Work

Victoria University of Wellington

Getting underway with rural libraries, Military camps & Lighthouses

The service began with two book vans which were built in the Government Railway Workshops. (NZL, v.1, June 1938, p.81.)  "By the end of 1938 the book vans were visiting 16 public libraries controlled by borough councils or town boards which had agreed to provide free service to residents (the 'A' service), and 179 small independent subscription libraries in county areas which paid a small fee and agreed to open their doors to all residents (the 'B' service). In addition, provision was made for the supply of books by hamper to small isolated groups ('C' service) and by post to isolated individuals ('D' service)."  (AJHR, 1939, H-32A, pp.1-2. cited by W.J. McEldowney, Geoffrey Alley, Librarian, p. 102)  

See Te Ara's history of the Country Library Service.

Libraries: The National Library

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Military camps and airforce bases received loans of books.

Papakura Camp P.S. 10-3-53

Auckland Libraries

In Lighthouses of Foveaux Strait - a History (May 2010), Angela Bain writes " Kevin Pennell recalls that the Country Library Service would send three butter boxes filled with 75 books to each station every three months, and remove the previous boxes. Pennell said that ‘ The books were something we looked forward to ’." (p.85)  

CLS PARTNERSHIP - SCHOOL LIBRARY SERVICE: 1942

The Country Library Service set up a schools section in 1942 to provide specifically for children in rural areas. In 1951 this became the School Library Service (later the National Library’s Services to Schools). Book collections were loaned to schools and small public libraries By 1958, over one million items were loaned to schools through the 15 distribution centres which had a combined collection of 1,743,487 items. (See Report of the National library Service for the year ended 31 March 1958, p. 3) 

Books loaned to schools

1942: Warkworth District High School received 200 hooks. The cost of this service was £10 pa.

Householders' Meeting (Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette, 22 April 1942)

National Library of New Zealand

1945: CLS books were included in Children's Book Week displays at Warkworth.

Children's Book Week (Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette, 14 November 1945)

National Library of New Zealand

1963: View of the interior of the National Library School Library Service, Auckland.

Interior view of the School Library Service, Auckland

Alexander Turnbull Library

1963: Another view of the interior of the National Library School Library Service, Auckland.

Interior view of the School Library Service, Auckland

Alexander Turnbull Library

1965: Nelson office occupied a converted house for 15 years, then shifted to new Peter Malone building In Rutherford St.

School Library Service Has a Shift

Nelson Photo News

School children in classroom looking at books

NZEI Te Riu Roa (New Zealand Educational Institute)

1970: Selection of SLS books delivered to Waterview Primary School, Auckland.

School library service, Waterview Primary School

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

Training support was also provided to assist schools to develop and manage their own school library. Organising Librarians (later called Advisers and then Capability Facilitators) provided schools and public libraries with advice on cataloguing their collections, setting up card catalogues, and processing and mending books. A historical paper has been written by Lois Luke (1988) 'National Library of New Zealand School Library Service, 1942-1988'. For information about current services to schools, see Services to Schools website.

Training support for school libraries

Manual for school libraries

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Planning the school library

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Manual for school libraries, prepared by the School Library Service

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

CLS during THE War years

During the World War II, the Country Library Service was also responsible for the War Library Service, the Central Bureau for Library Book Imports, the formation of a Union Catalogue, and the operation of part of the inter-library loan scheme.

CLS responsible for Central Bureau for Library Book Imports

Houses in Sydney Street East, Wellington, home of the headquarters of the National Library Service. Alexander Turnbull Library, F-30004-1/2

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection

CLS set up the Union Catalogue

Union Catalogue set up at National Library Centre, Sydney Street East, Thorndon, Wellington.

Janet Horncy with part of Union Catalogue at National Library Centre

Alexander Turnbull Library

CLS managed inter-library loan scheme

General Library catalogues, reference and interloans

The University of Auckland Library

DISTRICT OFFICES: CHRISTCHURCH (1944), PALMERSTON NORTH (1948) & HAMILTON (1953)

Three Country Library Service district offices were set up: Christchurch (CCL) in 1944, Palmerston North (PCL) in 1948 and Hamilton (HCL) in 1953. By March 1958, the total stock at the Headquarters (Wellington) and Country Library Service tallied 652,308 items - 176,600 fiction and 475,708 non-fiction. (See Report of the National library Service for the year ended 31 March 1958, p. 3)   For archival records held by the National Library, see Country Library Service (Hamilton) Records.

1944: Christchurch district office began operating.

Country Library Service bus and librarians, Christchurch

Alexander Turnbull Library

1948: CLS office set up at Palmerston North. Van services included travelling to Huinga, Taranaki.

New Zealand Country Library Service bookvan about to leave Huinga

Alexander Turnbull Library

1954: Hamilton fistrict office began operating in a former WWII munitions factory on Dey Street.

WWII munitions factory in Hamilton East

DigitalNZ

CLS > National Library Service: 1945

In 1945, the decision was made to establish the National Library Service with four divisions: the Country Library Service, School Library Service, and a new National Library Centre and a graduate Library School in Wellington. Geoffrey Alley was appointed as the Director.    

National Library Service - Library School: 1946 - 1980

Since 1942, professional development for librarians who held a school higher leaving certificate was provided the New Zealand Library Association through its library certificate course. In 1946 a diploma course was introduced for university graduates through the New Zealand Library School. (See New Zealand Library School : [Prospectus], 1945- )  This one-year, paid, full-time diploma course  was administered by the National Library Service and financed by the Education Department.  Mary Parsons was appointed as the first Director (1945-47).  In 1980, the diploma course was taken over  by Victoria University of Wellington. The Library School took over the delivery of the NZLA Certificate training in 1952; which was later taken over by the Wellington College of Education in 1980. and then by the Open Polytechnic in 1998. (See Te Ara)

1965: Bursary for Māori students to study at university and attend the New Zealand Library School

Libraries: Library services to Māori

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

1969: Advert in Te Ao Hou encouraging Māori to train as librarians at the Library School.

WHO WILL BE AMONGST THE FIRST? - (Te Ao Hou - No. 66 March 1969)

Alexander Turnbull Library

1967: Library School students

Library School Group Shot

Alexander Turnbull Library

Life as a Field Librarian on the vans

Working with the Country Library Service was seen as an attractive career option. "Many graduate librarians wanted to work for the Country Library Service (CLS) because it offered travel, independence and good pay." Alan Smith, who graduated in 1967, said: ‘On the CLS you were on the road for six weeks and back at base for two: while away you got a daily allowance (on top of salary) of about $6.50 – at a time when you could still get dinner-bed-and-breakfast at a country pub for around $4. But as well I was keen to see more of New Zealand before heading off on the inevitable o.e.’" (See Te Ara)

1946: Hokianga 'booklovers' selecting titles.

Hokianga Country Library Service

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

1948: CLS van on the road with Field Librarian Evelyn Franklin who graduated from Library School in 1946.

CLS van on the road, 1948. Evelyn Franklin, of the Library School class of 1946, is the field librarian. Alexander Turnbull Library, F-16090-1/4

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection

Jan 1950: Field Librarian Joe O'Neill in the Hokianga area.

Hokianga Country Library Service : Joe O'Neill

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The Prow: "The South Island bus would leave Christchurch for three months at a time with the driver living in the bus for the duration. It carried 1300 books and would visit Golden Bay four times a year, touring each of the small community libraries and journeying out to remote homesteads, cottage hospitals and lighthouses, amongst other places. Books were housed around the outside of the bus with lift-up awnings to shelter under if the weather was inclement. The driver had all he or she needed to cook and sleep inside the van."  (Story:  The Beginnings of Library Services in Golden Bay / Mohua) 

April 1957: Photos of Joe O'Neill arriving at farmhouse library in the Hokianga.

Country Library Service, Hokianga, Northland

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

1960: Elizabeth MacLean's appointment as Field Librarian was celebrated in Gisborne.

Personal

Gisborne Photo News

1969: Interview with Field Librarian Leslie Armstrong at the Riverside Community Settlement near Motueka.

Programme 301 - Up the Cobb with the Country Library Service by Jim Henderson, tape 1

Alexander Turnbull Library

The Field Librarians would stay in motels, be invited to stay overnight in people's homes and, at times, camp out in the bookvan. Jim Sutherland  would use his spare time writing novels and short stories (see listing). The Hamilton Centre staff  would be treated with a special morning tea with the announcement that the latest book by J. H. (James Hector) Sutherland had been published!  Another Field Librarian, Alec Reid, wrote "Paddlewheels on the Wanganui" (1967). Some of the Field Librarians gave their bookvan a nickname! 

1970s: Overnight camping in Waitomo District - Field Librarian Jim Sutherland had hung washing out on a line.

National Library Bookvan encampment

Alexander Turnbull Library

Unpublished photographs of bookvan operations at Hamilton and Palmerston North are also held by National Library under the heading: Sutherland, James Hector, 1935 -   (For biographical information, see The Community Archive.) 

1971: Bookvan parked at Willow Flat, Hawke's Bay, photographed by Field Librarian Jim Sutherland.

Country Library Service book-van parked at Willow Flat, Hawke's Bay

Alexander Turnbull Library

1972: Bookvan named "Charlie" at Waitotara, photographed by Field Librarian Jim Sutherland.

New Zealand Country Library Service bookvan at Waitotara

Alexander Turnbull Library

March 1988: Selecting books outside Shannon Library with Field Librarian Dylan Owen.

Dylan Owen and others with National Library van outside Shannon Library, 1988

Kete Horowhenua

1989: Interview with Field Librarian Elizabeth MacLean at Christchurch. See: https://natlib.govt.nz/items/ 35829655

Interview with Elizabeth MacLean, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Interview with Field Librarian Joe O'Neill. See: https://natlib.govt.nz/items /35829661

Interview with Joseph Bonaventure Cerretti O'Neill, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

BOOKVAN DRIVING CONDITIONS

Field Librarians would return to their regional centre with tales about driving in the more isolated rural areas with unsealed roads. On one occasion, the Hamilton Centre staff  heard how the back wheels of the bookvan had slid into a ditch on a winding, wet road. As the wheels spun around in the mud, some form of traction was needed. The Field Librarian had the inspiration to throw underneath  the wheels a  handful of the older books that were to be lent on indefinite loan - success!    

Jan 1946: Unsealed countryside road at Omapere.

Country road, Omapere

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

1956: Driving conditions over rural bridges and unsealed roads.

Country Library Service

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

This film from 1959 shows the kinds of places visited, and what life on the road was like for the Field Librarians.

Country Library Service, 1959

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

CONSTRUCTION OF BOOKVANS

During the year prior to March 1958, one of the South Island bookvans was replaced with one similar to the new vans being used in North Island. The van was constructed of aluminium alloy on a four-ton, long-wheel-based chassis, and carried approximately 2,000 books. "'Particular care was taken in providing good sealing against dust and water, adequate natural lighting, and the best possible insulation."  (See Report of the National library Service for the year ended 31 March 1958, p. 7)     

1955: Bookvan at Kawerau.

Unidentified woman standing beside the Country Library Service van, Kawerau

Alexander Turnbull Library

Dec 1956: Interior of new bookvan at Wellington.

Two unidentified women [librarians?] showing the interior of the new Country Library Service mobile library

Alexander Turnbull Library

Dec 1956: New bookvan parked in Wellington.

New Country Library Service mobile van, Sydney Street, Wellington

Alexander Turnbull Library

Types of libraries receiving CLS book loans by 1958

 Loans of books and periodicals were given to the following types of libraries:                                                                                           (A)  Local authority library which had a free subscription: Free loans on a population basis were given.                                                   (B)  Independent  subscription libraries: A small annual charge per fifty books loaned.                                                                           (C)  Hamper loans were sent to isolated groups of readers for a small charge.                                                                                        (D)  Postal service of free loans sent to lighthouse keepers and similar very remote readers, such as coastal islands.                        (E)  Free loans on a population basis to Ministry of Works, and Hydro-electric and New Zealand Forest Service camps.

 All libraries under (A) and (B) and the majority under (C)  received regular bookvan visits up to three times a year. The bookvans also visited Department of Justice prisons; and general and mental health hospitals in urban and rural areas. From the special TB collection, books were exchanged three times a year at 15 sanatoria and tuberculocis wards of public hospitals. Cartons of books were also sent to Scott Base, the Chatham Islands, Pitcairn Island, Niue and Rarotonga.  See "Report of the National library Service for the year ended 31 March 1958", p. 8 and "Minimum standards for public libraries participating in the Country Library Service" (Wellington N.Z. : National Library Service, 1958)      

Library service in country districts

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

1946: Hokianga

Hokianga Country Library Service

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

1946: Hokianga

Hokianga Country Library Service

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

April 1947: First quota of books received & library temporarily in a house until hall became available.

PINEHAVEN COUNTRY LIBRARY SERVICE. (Upper Hutt Leader 24 April 1947)

Upper Hutt City Library

June 1947: Notice in newspaper that 41 library members to return books so that next full exchange of 100 can take place.

PINEHAVEN COUNTRY LIBRARY SERVICE. (Upper Hutt Leader 5 June 1947)

Upper Hutt City Library

Aug 1947: Mr. R. .N. O'Reilly, (National Library Service) gave talk on the CLS to Public Services' Committee.

PUBLIC LIBRARY. (Upper Hutt Leader 21 August 1947)

Upper Hutt City Library

1950s: Bookvan librarian delivering a suitcase of library books to a rural client.

Book bag delivered by the New Zealand Country Library Service

Alexander Turnbull Library

Jan 1950: Hokianga

Hokianga Country Library Service

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Jan 1950: Hokianga

Vivienne Lee-Johnson, Hokianga

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

CLS provided prisons with bookvan visits and a postal requests service.

Mount Eden prison in Lauder Road, Mount Eden

Auckland Libraries

Minimum standards to receive CLS loans: 1958

The intent was for CLS to assist  local authority efforts to provide a reasonable standard of library service, not to supplant it. Expectations were that the local authority "houses it in a fair building, grafts it onto a reasonable local book collection, and has the whole serviced by an active and informed librarian."  (See Report of the National library Service for the year ended 31 March 1958, p. 8)    "Minimum standards for public libraries participating in the Country Library Service" were approved by the Minister of Education on 22 April 1958. 

April 1956: Exterior and interior view of 'book lovers' at Waimamaku

Country Library Service, Waimamaku

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

April 1956: Selecting books at Waimamaku.

Country Library Service, Waimamaku

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Sep 1956: Bookvan at Hokianga.

Country Library Service, Hokianga

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Sept 1956: Armfuls of books.

Country Library Service

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

April 1957: Exterior views of bookvan at Hokianga.

Country Library Service, Hokianga

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

April 1957: Well-stocked van at Hokianga.

Country Library Service, Hokianga

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

April 1957: Sorting through books at Hokianga.

Country Library Service, Hokianga

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

April 1957: Queuing to get on board at Hokianga.

Country Library Service, Hokianga, Northland

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

April 1957: Interior photos of local residents choosing books at Hokianga.

Country Library Service, Hokianga

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

1958: Geoffrey Alley awarded OBE in Queen's Birthday Homours

Geoffrey Alley, recently awarded the OBE in the Queens Birthday Honours

Alexander Turnbull Library

1950s: Social function at the National Library. Geoffrey Alley is cutting the cake.

National Library social function

Alexander Turnbull Library

CLS > EXTENSION DIVISION OF NATIONAL LIBRARY OF NEW ZEALANd: 1965

In 1963 the Government announced its intention to form a National Library and appointed the first National Librarian, Geoffrey Alley in March 1964.  The enabling National Act was passed in 1965 which saw the merging of the following institutions to form the National Library of New Zealand: National Library Service, the Alexander Turnbull Library, the New Zealand Newspaper Collection and copyright services of the General Assembly Library.  The General Assembly Library, which was formed in 1858,  remained separate as the Parliamentary Library. The Country Library Service and the School Library Service formed the Extension Division of the National Library of New Zealand, and were joined in 1989 by the National Film Library.  See The Country Library Service regulations 1967.  Alley retired on 31 December 1967. (See Te Ara.)

c.1964-67: Model of new National Libraty building to be built in Wellington

Model of proposed National Library building in Hill Street, Wellington

Alexander Turnbull Library

1972: Alexander Turnbull Library on film

Alexander Turnbull's Library (1972)

Archives New Zealand Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga

1967: Back row, l-r: J O Wilson, H Macaskill, A G Bagnall & T B O'Neill. Front row, l-r: P E Richardson & G T. Alley

Group of senior librarians at National Library of New Zealand

Alexander Turnbull Library

Construction began on the new National Library building, but was suspended between 1976 and 1981.  Library staff and collections were relocated from 14 sites around Wellington to the new National Library building on Molesworth Street, which was officially opened in August 1987. 

1975: Excavation on the corner of Molesworth and Aitken Streets for the National Library Building in Wellington.

Photograph of excavation for National Library building

Alexander Turnbull Library

1982: Laying of the foundation stone of the new National Library building,

Staff at the laying of the foundation stone of the new National Library Building, Wellington

Alexander Turnbull Library

c.1987: New National Library building.

New National Library Building

University of Otago

National Library opening ceremony, 1987

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Range of services provided by CLS

CLS BOOKVAN LOANS:

"The Country Library Service Regulations 1968" set out the terms of service for helping public libraries. Books were loaned according the size of the population with up to 1,000 books loaned. Three exchanges were ideally made each year by the bookvans except in the case of the larger public libraries who could visit their nearest centre and choose their bulk loan of books. Similar loans of Children's and Young People's books of up to 450 titles, were also available from the School Library Service. 

1967: National Library staff from left: J O Wilson, A G Bagnall, P E Richardson, G T Alley, H Macaskill & T B O'Neill.

Group of senior librarians at National Library of New Zealand

Alexander Turnbull Library

1966: Loans provided to Punga-haruru by Services to Schools and the Country Library Service.

Aid From Country Library Service - (Te Ao Hou - No. 57 December 1966)

Alexander Turnbull Library

1969: Bookvan at Wingfield Street, Wellington.

A 1960 model CLS van in Wingfield Street in 1969 on ground later covered by the National Library. Alan Smith

New Zealand Electronic Text Collection

Mid-1970s: Shannon Library staff sorting through books received from CLS.

Interior of Shannon Library looking toward back door, mid 1970's

Kete Horowhenua

Mid-1970s: Books selected during visit by National Library Service to renew stock.

Pam Lyon and Elaine Morse carrying new stock into library, mid 1970's

Kete Horowhenua

OTHER CLS LOANS - SUBJECT, INDEFINITE & ESTABLISHMENT: 

Subject loan collections consisting up to 20 to 80 books on a specific topic were made available. In addition, journals were subscribed to and circulated to the public libraries to supplement their collection. Indefinite loans were made available to libraries and schools, which were identified by an orange/yellow date slip at the inside rear and were stamped 'Indefinite Loan'.  Establishment loans were also made available to libraries requiring larger quantities, especially the newer libraries. The Indefinite and Establishment loan books tended to have been older publications in still good condition. 

1958: Christmas greetings from Palmerston North Centre - A farmer reading a book.

Paterson, Alan Stuart, 1902-1968 :Christmas greetings from PCL / ASP - [1958]

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Lynette Meares recounts working at CLS Christchurch (1947-1949); & later setting up a lending library at her home.

Interview with Lynette Fay Meares, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Interview with Jean Wright, librarian at Christchurch Regional Centre. See: https://natlib.govt.nz/ items/35830503

Interview with Jean Struthers Wright, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

CLS Request Service:

In addition to the bookvan and bulk loans service, a Request and Information Service was provided to meet individual borrower needs not held by their public library or government institution library.  Requests for specific author/titles or material on any subject would be posted or faxed to the Regional Centre - Hamilton, Palmerston North, or Christchurch. A team of reference librarians would check the Centre's card catalogue. If not  held by the centre, the reference staff would look up the microfiched Union Catalogue  for items held by Wellington and other libraries and  forward the request on in the afternoon post. Government departments could also request specific titles from the headquarters stock at Wellington. The Wellington stock was also used to supply inter-library loans for all types of libraries. 

Memorable moments for Hamilton Centre

Apologetic note "obviously the book didn't work" accompanied a returned book on dog training with teeth marks on cover!

Dog

mychillybin

Memorable moment

Apologetic note received by Hamilton Centre that the borrowed Galley cookbook was on board the Rainbow Warrior.

Rainbow Warrior

DigitalNZ

Memorable moment

A winning Mastermind contestant delighted with information received from Hamilton Centre on chosen topic.

Mastermind

NZ On Screen

Memorable moment

Receiving requests for information on locksmithing and making gyrocopters & hang gliders - from prisons.

A gyrocopter

Ministry for Culture and Heritage

Memorable moment

Field Librarian explaining why some books returned from a prison had plastic cover removed - used as tobacco pouches!

tobacco

Auckland War Memorial Museum Tamaki Paenga Hira

Memorable moment

Jubilant 'thank you' note from Prison debating team that they had won against Auckland University.

University clocktower

Auckland Libraries

Memorable moment

Van visits to prisons to exclude cookbooks with alcohol recipes (e.g. using potato peelings) in case of experimentation.

Aunt Daisy's cookery book of approved recipes

MOTAT

CLS ADVISORY SERVICE

Advice and practical assistance was given to libraries and local authorities by the regional offices and Wellington - "Plans for new buildings, relief staff in times of emergency, book orders for new libraries, visits to and reports on libraries with recommendations for improvements, help with the basic training of local staff, lists of books recommended for buying, including the weekly Books to Buy, guidance and assistance in many ways...."    (Source: The Country Library Service: What it is - what it does. National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, 1971).   Advice given to public libraries by the Organising Librarians on aspects of library management, included how to type catalogue cards for their own card catalogue. The CLS also coordinated a book-buying scheme amongst local authority libraries with 22 libraries taking part by March 1958.  The "Manual for libraries in small rural communities and institutions" (1981) was written by J. H. (Jim) Sutherland (National Library of New Zealand. Extension Service) 

Counting the statistics: 1970

 In the year ending 31 March 1970:  (Source: The Country Library Service: What it is - what it does. National Library of New Zealand, Wellington, 1971, p.8)  

Loans:

  • 189,076 books went on regular loan to 143 local authority libraries
  • 101,637 books on regular loan to 831 county libraries and groups
  • 16,985 books on regular loan to  67 camp or station libraries
  • 21,238 books on regular loan to  67 hospitals, prisons and borstals
  • 46,757 books in 1,073 subject loan collections   
  • 102,949 books  were supplied on request under the CLS Request and Information Service 

Bookstock:

The CLS collection had approximately 756,340 volumes  and the Central Division had 274,000 titles. Number of new items added to CLS collection was 37,619 (25,335 non-fiction and 12,284 fiction). 

ENd of an Era - BookVan service: 1988 

Following the amalgamation of local body government, the bookvans ceased operation in 1988.  The other services offered from the  'Adult' collection at the regional centres ceased in the early 1990s - specific author/title requests service, subject loans, indefinite loans and establishment loans. Titles were selected by the National Library offices in Wellington (mainly non-fiction) and Christchurch (mainly fiction) and the remainder distributed to libraries. 

NZOHA Country Library Service Oral History Project 

The National Library commissioned the New Zealand Oral History Archive (NZOHA) to record life history interviews with 12 former staff members and users of the Country Library Service. (NZOHA was housed in the Turnbull Library as an independent organisation since 1987).  The interviews were held during 15 March 1989 - 3 May 1989 by Hugo Manson and Judith Fyfe.  See list of interviewees which included: "Field Librarians who drove book vans, with librarians who ran the `A' and `B' libraries which were supplied by the Country Library Service and with librarians who worked at the Country Library Service, during the period 1930-1970."   In 1991, the Oral History Centre was created within the Alexander Turnbull Library when NZOHA was disestablished. 

1989: Thelma McCartney recounts managing CLS Palmerston North & later career in public library sector receiving loans.

Interview with Thelma McArtney, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Florence Harsant describes setting up the Country Library Service `B' library in 1952 in her home at Hahei.

Interview with Florence Marie Harsant, QSM, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Margaret O'Connor describes the bookvan service received at Kerikeri Public.

Interview with Margaret O'Connor, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Dorothy Blanchard describes the Country Library Service received at Tokirima `B' library.

Interview with Dorothy Alice Blanchard, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Hilda Beamish describes setting up a `B' library in her home at Kohatunui and the bookvan services.

Interview with Hilda Marama Beamish, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Isabella Godbert describes CLS services received by Kerikeri Public and the role played by the bookvans.

Interview with Isabella Phoebe Catriona Godbert, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Joy Bilkey relates the importance of the CLS, the visits of the bookvan, its drivers & their routines.

Interview with Joy Margaret Bilkey, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Jean Miller Describes her work at the CLS in Christchurch & receiving the van service when living at Helensville.

Interview with Jean Yvonne Miller, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

1989: Accompanying material included articles written by Alan Mercer and Helen Sullivan.

Research Interview with Allan Mercer & Helen Sullivan, tape one

Alexander Turnbull Library

National Library since 1990

For key milestones, see National Library - Our history. The National Film Library became part of the National Library in 1990. In 2003, the National Library of New Zealand (Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa) Act was passed.  In 2011, the National Library was integrated into the Department of Internal Affairs, alongside Archives New Zealand. Services from SLS continue today as Services to Schools with collections at Auckland and Christchurch, and staff operating from seven locations, including the National Library building in Wellington.  

Further information: