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Our Policies

View our policies on collections, copyright, and accepting materials for display.


This policy will:

  • Guide staff in the acquisition, development, management, and withdrawal of content provided by Nelson Public Libraries
  • To assist staff and customer understanding of Nelson Public Libraries’ collections development philosophy and processes


This policy applies to all physical collections held across three libraries and the library’s online resources. More detailed statements relating to specific collections exist in the Nelson Public Libraries Collection Profiles. This policy should be reviewed for currency and relevance annually and/or as required due to changes in the information landscape.


Nelson Public Libraries’ origins date back to 1841, with the formation of the Nelson Literary and Scientific Institute on board the New Zealand Company ship, the Whitby. 700 books collected on the Whitby, formed the basis of the first library collection. A few of those books survived and are now preserved in the New Zealand Heritage collection.

Today the libraries function as one network. The service is delivered from three library buildings and through website access to online services. The main library is located in Nelson City beside the Maitai River, and the two community libraries serve the Stoke and Tahunanui area catchments. Apart from Heritage and special collections, physical items float between the libraries to provide the best access for Nelson’s 50,880 [1] residents. Over 39,000 people from the Top of the South region are Library members[2].

Guiding principles

Nelson Public Libraries will continue to shape its collections in response to a variety of factors, including collection usage, customer feedback, publishing developments, and with reference to the following principles:

  • Provide easy, reliable access to a range of resources, in a variety of formats, with a variety of viewpoints
  • Reflect Nelson’s diverse community through content shaped by collection usage information and emerging trends
  • Preserve and develop local heritage collections for current and future generations, which represent or document the culture and history of the region
  • Honour our Treaty of Waitangi obligations to identify the specific needs of Māori customers, and design collections that satisfy their interests
  • Support the principle of freedom and equity of access to information

Freedom and equity of access to information

  • The Library commits itself to a philosophy which supports the freedom to read and access information within the meaning of the law set by the Copyright Act 1994 and the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993
  • The Library supports the LIANZA Statement on Freedom of Information 2020
  • The Library is also guided by the principles described in the UNESCO Public Library Manifesto
  • Free access to information includes the removal of barriers to accessibility
  • Equity of access includes addressing the needs of those who do not have access to the internet at home
  • Material will not be suppressed or removed simply because it gives offence
  • Responsibility for a child’s selection of materials rests solely with the child’s parent or legal guardian. Selection of resources will not be inhibited by the possibility that they may inadvertently come into possession or view of children
  • Customers can express their views on the content of resources or materials via the “Have Your Say” form. The Library will respond to all forms where the customer provides their name and contact details

Providing value for Nelson

The Library is a Nelson City Council service and is funded through rates and user charges; The Library ensures the best value for Nelson ratepayers by exercising fiscal responsibility in collection development.

  • The library commits to making cost effective collection management decisions, balancing renewal of the collection with the retention of key items for the future
  • The library regularly measures the usage of collections to ensure they deliver value for money

Collection Management Guidelines


Selecting materials for the Library’s collection is the key responsibility of the Collections and Support Services Team. The aim is to ensure a popular high use collection that gives value for money and which supports the cultural, informational and recreational needs of the Nelson community.

Criteria for selection of library materials:

  • Known or expected demand and interest
  • Accuracy, reliability, and currency of information provided
  • Reputation of author and or publisher
  • Items are recently published (generally within the last 5 years)
  • Relevant to the appropriate Collection Profile
  • Available in a suitable library format
  • Provide customers access to materials in a range of formats
  • Purchase multiple copies of titles that are likely to be popular
  • To ensure a collection that reflects New Zealand’s culture and heritage with an emphasis on the Nelson region
  • Complement the collections of other libraries in the Top of the South Region, including the Museum and NMIT libraries
  • Respond to customer suggestions for purchase keeping in mind the above criteria

Donations and unsolicited items

The Library will consider the donation of materials. Donors must sign the Nelson Public Libraries Donation Form, indicating acceptance of our policy. Acceptance of donated materials into the collection depends on subject specialists’ professional judgement.

  • Items must be up to date (published within the last 5 years) and relevant to the appropriate collection profile. Older items in good condition may be considered for addition to the Heritage Collections, if they meet the collection criteria.
  • Donations, once added to the collection, are managed like all other material and are subject to the same conditions of loan, use and retention.
  • Donations that do not meet the collection criteria will be disposed of at the Library’s discretion and will not be returned to the donor.
  • Unsolicited items from authors, publishers or suppliers are rarely accepted. If accepted, it must satisfy the same criteria as resources actively sought by the Library.


Nelson Public Libraries collections must be attractive and appealing to customers. Collection items are regularly reviewed for retention using the following criteria:

  • Relevance to users
  • Currency of content
  • Content is misleading and/or factually inaccurate
  • Age and physical condition
  • Usage (lending collections)
  • Content is available online

Every attempt will be made to replace material in poor condition which is still in demand.


The cost effectiveness of mending an item is the first criteria for consideration when an item’s condition is identified as below standard. Criteria for mending are one or more of the following:

  • Items under 5 years old requiring a light mend
  • Standard works that cannot be replaced or are too costly to replace
  • Items on subjects not easily obtained or currently published

Deselection and disposal

Library staff have the delegated authority to dispose of library collection assets following the guidelines above, supplemented by the relevant Collection Area Profiles. Materials that are no longer required may be:

  • Sold in a library book sale
  • Recycled or otherwise disposed of


[2] 2021

Nelson Public Libraries provide limited display and noticeboard space free of charge to local individuals and groups which wish to promote their activities.

The Libraries take a neutral stance on the acceptance of notices and displays, subject to the following criteria:

  • Displays and notices and petitions which contravene the law or incite the contravention of the law will not be accepted. They must not be offensive in any way or disrespectful to any organisation or person, that is, contain swear words, be harassing, discriminatory, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually-oriented or racially offensive
  • The Libraries will not accept for display party political or religious material,  or commercial sale, rental or hire material without wider community benefit
  • The Libraries accept advertising for local artistic, sporting, cultural events and lectures or classes, but excludes advertising for other commercial activities.
  • The Libraries do not accept liability for any damage to or theft of displayed materials.
  • Displays and notices are accepted only if they clearly show the name of the responsible group or individual.
  • Material will only be displayed when it is current, and ongoing activities will be promoted for a limited time only.
  • In the case of doubt as to the appropriateness of any material presented for display on community noticeboards, the decision of the Library Manager will be final.

Priority is given to one-off local community activities and, with limited space available, the libraries reserve the right not to display all material received. The boards are managed by Library staff and notices are put up and removed only by library staff.

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