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The greatest move in New Zealand history

“The National Library Molesworth Street move is by all accounts — be it volumes moved, value, time taken, skills required or breadth of material — is in totality the most significant in New Zealand’s history”, says Kevin Moore, Divisional Manager of Crown Business Services.

With a colossal number of collections now relocated, and around 320 staff happily moved, it is safe to say the planning and implementation by the New Generation Implementation Programme (NGIP) team was a huge success. National Librarian Bill Macnaught said, “Those responsible for the execution of this monstrous project deserve recognition and congratulations.”

The movers who made it happen

A huge thank you also goes to Mainzeal Construction, Crown Business Relocation and B&W Consulting for their part in the success of the project. Kevin said, “Crown have moved entire hospitals, Government House, and distributed all the new silver coins for the Reserve Bank in 2006, yet I know I speak for everyone when I say that this is the relocation that gives us the greatest pride and sense of achievement.”

Jake Bray, Assistant Construction Manager, Mainzeal says, “We are all amazed at the unique and rare collections that are held here at the Library. The Mainzeal team have a huge amount of respect for the all of the protocols and procedures put in place by NGIP, because right from the start Pam Harris (Collections Protection) made us appreciate how fragile and important they all are.”

The NGIP team are hugely grateful to the highly committed and professional curators, conservators, move coordinators, and James Salisbury and his team, who aided them in the planning of this project.

Back to the beginning

The $65 million refurbishment of the Library building had its beginnings in 2008 when a business case identified major problems with the existing collection storage space and service issues. These included deterioration of the existing building — particularly leaks in the roof — and poor public access to the Library’s collections.

In 2010, the Library completed moving its staff and operations to four temporary premises in Wellington. The bulk of collections — valued at nearly $1 billion — had to be stored and either moved offsite, or managed onsite during construction. This involved exceptional teamwork, communication and planning. Lisa Rutherford recalls the overwhelming sight of 35,000 boxes of books stored on pallet racking on the ground floor and the task ahead of moving them in sequence!

The packaging, moving and storing of each item was specifically managed by Pam Harris based on their individual requirements.
Manuscripts, newspapers, sound recordings, photographic glass negatives, rare books, photo albums, and larger items such as maps, architectural drawings and pianos were all moved with the utmost care and security. Over a period of 18 months, Crown Relocations staff spent 15,000 hours on the packaging process alone. Custom boxing of the rarest and most fragile items, and housing the newspapers in archival boxes means that they now have extra permanent protection in their storage environments.

Rob Stevens, Director of the New Generation Implementation Programme said, “As a nation, we can trust that the collections will be well kept, and added to for generations to come. The magnitude of this assignment is hard to fathom for those not directly involved. However, taking the time to see the collections you gain an understanding for the scale of the operation.”
This article was provided by Angie Cuzens from the Next Generation Implementation Programme, National Library of New Zealand