Story: Libraries

Page 4. Other libraries

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In addition to public libraries, the National Library and the major research libraries, there is a wide range of other libraries in New Zealand, from education, government, business, health, law and science libraries to museum and theological libraries.


Most schools have their own library, and some school libraries in rural areas are combined with a public library.

In 2013 there were 68 libraries in the tertiary education sector. Of those, 29 were university libraries, including both main and specialised libraries; 20 were polytechnic libraries; 14 were private training institute libraries and 5 were wānanga (Māori teaching and research institution) libraries. In addition to those, four libraries served education-related organisations, such as the Post Primary Teachers’ Association.


Government departments typically have their own libraries for staff use. In 2013 there were 48 government department libraries. Departmental librarians, along with public librarians, were at the forefront of library developments in New Zealand until the 1970s. At that point they started to become less dominant, while librarians from the private sector began to take on more active roles. In the 1980s government libraries were down-sized as part of wider public-sector reforms.

Small beginnings

The first Parliamentary Library was established in 1856, two years after the General Assembly met for the first time. It was set up in a room measuring 6 feet by 8 feet (around 1.8 metres by 2.4 metres) – basically, a large cupboard.


Some businesses maintain their own libraries. These include major accounting firms such as KPMG, and manufacturers such as Tait Radio and Fisher & Paykel appliances and health care divisions. In 2013 there were 39 business libraries.


The former district health boards, non-governmental health organisations and other health-related organisations have staff libraries. In 2013 there were 39 health libraries.


Large law firms have their own libraries, which hold printed legal volumes. Subscriptions to online legal databases are also held by law libraries. In 2013 there were 22 law firm libraries.

Science and industry

Outside universities, much of the scientific research in New Zealand takes place within Crown Research Institutes and industrial companies. In 2013 there were 21 science and industry research libraries.

Other libraries

In 2013 there were seven museum libraries, six theological libraries, four local government libraries for the use of council staff and 23 ‘miscellaneous’ libraries, including those of the Problem Gambling Foundation and the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

How to cite this page:

Julia Millen, 'Libraries - Other libraries', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 15 July 2024)

Story by Julia Millen, published 22 Oct 2014