Nov 30, 2021

New Zealand National Library Hits Pause on Internet Archive Agreement

The following is a message posted to the IAJGS Records Access Alert mailing list and is republished here with permission:

On July 12,2021 the IAJGS Records Access Alert posted about an agreement between the New Zealand National Library and Internet Archive which was to donate 600,000 books that it was going to cull from its overseas collection. Internet archive has agreed to make digital copies of the works freely available online.

It has now been reported that the National Library has halted its plans to export the 600,000 books to the Internet Archive, an U.S.-based online archive, after sustained criticism from authors, publishers, copyright holders and the National Party. The Library said it was reconsidering plans to ship the books from its Overseas Published Collections “in light of concerns raised by interested parties, including issues associated with copyright”.

National Librarian Te Pouhuaki​ Rachel Esson said the library listened to people’s views and was working hard to support New Zealanders’ ongoing access to books from the collections, which it previously argued it had no space for and were scarcely issued by the public.

“We are aiming to balance our duty to all New Zealanders with the concerns of our valued book sector colleagues and will continue to build relationships with them,” she said. “We are taking some time to look at all available options that align with our collection plans, while preserving author and publisher interests.” Esson said the library would continue to work to avoid secure destruction of the books, which was looking like an earlier outcome before the deal with the Internet Archive was struck.

The pause comes after the Authors’ Society, Publishers’ Association and Copyright Licensing wrote to the Attorney-General and Ministry for Culture and Heritage, asking them to investigate the deal. Many of those parties felt unheard and upset during the process of what to do with the books, which ended in the library striking a deal with the archive.

As reported previously by the IAJGS Records Access Alert, the Internet Archive is embroiled in a copyright infringement lawsuit with publishing giants Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin Random House and Wiley in the United States.

To read more see: and

To read the previous postings about New Zealand National Library and major publishers go to the archives of the IAJGS Records Access Alert at: You must be registered to access the archives. To register go to: and follow the instructions to enter your email address, full name and which genealogical organization with whom you are affiliated You will receive an email response that you have to reply to or the subscription will not be finalized.

Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee

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