New Zealand Parliamentary Library, Wellington

New Zealand Parliamentary Library, Wellington

The New Zealand Parliamentary Library, known until 1985 as the General Assembly Library, is the library and information resource of the New Zealand Parliament. The present building was completed in 1899.

The first General Assembly Library was a small room shared with the Auckland Provincial Council. It contained 750 volumes in 1860. The library then moved to a cottage behind Parliament's main building, and the collection grew to 4000 books.[4] After Parliament moved to Wellington in 1862, some books were sent down on a ship, White Swan, which was wrecked on the Wairarapa coast. Many parliamentary papers and reference books of the inchoate library were lost.

In subsequent years, it became common to blame the wreck of the White Swan for failure to produce documents which it was "thought inexpedient to produce". The library then moved to six large rooms behind Parliament in Wellington.

The earliest catalogue was an author catalogue published in 1867. The next was a classified catalogue, published in 1872. In 1880, the library contained 18,562 works, and by 1897 it held close to 40,000 volumes.

It was New Zealand's finest library and source of overseas ideas, philosophy and literature for representatives and staff. NZ Premier and poet Alfred Domett supported access for some non-parliamentarians, although the offering of this privilege had its opponents at different times. The writer Katherine Mansfield had borrowing privileges when parliament was not in session, accessing books by Heinrich Heine, Nietzsche, a translation of Bushido by Dr Inazo Nitobe, the English poets, Ibsen, Maeterlinck, and a book on the psychology of women.

The current library building occupied by the Parliamentary Library in Wellington was completed for the General Assembly Library in 1899. It is the oldest of the extant buildings in the Parliament complex. The library was originally designed as a three-storey building by Thomas Turnbull in Gothic Revival style. It was fire resistant, being constructed of brick made at Mount Cook gaol with an iron firedoor separating the then General Assembly Library from the main entrance section. The fireproofing saved the General Assembly Library from the fire of 1907, which destroyed the rest of the wooden parliament buildings.

The building is registered with the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category I heritage structure.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.

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New Zealand Parliamentary Library on Map

Sight Name: New Zealand Parliamentary Library
Sight Location: Wellington, New Zealand (See walking tours in Wellington)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Wellington, New Zealand

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