National Library extension to showcase digital collections

Online remote access enables 24-hour access to collections

Extensions to the National Library in Wellington will place more emphasis on the digital aspects of the collection and will make them more accessible and more obvious to visitors.

“At present, when you walk into the building there is no obvious sign that we have any digital content at all,” says Don Truesdale, director of the National Digital Library, the library’s digital division.

This presence will be made evident with large-scale three-dimensional displays of digital material and interactive media suites in the new building, in addition to the current limited exposure through workstations.

The National Library is already building the National Digital Heritage Archive (NDHA), ensuring both “born-digital” content such as CDs, DVDs and web archives as well as digitised versions of print documents will be available as widely as possible to library visitors and through online remote access.

The latter will enable 24-hour access to collections, creating “a library that never sleeps”, says National Librarian Penny Carnaby. The NDHA will go live with full functionality late next year.

Overseas experience has shown that the availability of digital content encourages more people to visit the library, says a National Library statement released for the official launch of the new building plans by the Prime Minister last week.

While digital archiving gives an impression of requiring much less space, an appropriate environment must be made available to visitors to examine the material in comfort. Space must also be provided for the necessary computer hardware and for originals of the CDs and DVDs stored, says the library’s statement.

Therefore, the pressure on space will not be reduced. The extensions will enlarge the upper floors of the library building, at a cost of $69 million over five years, allowing walk spaces to be retained at ground level.

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