Geoffrey Alley, Librarian: His Life & Work
Chapter 14 — National Librarian
For the better part of two years following his appointment as national librarian, Alley was preoccupied by the problems involved in implementing the government's decision to establish a national library which would include the three existing state libraries: the General Assembly Library, the Alexander Turnbull Library, and the National Library Service.
In one sense the way ahead might have seemed clear. Hunn's report of 1956 had recommended the amalgamation of all the functions of the existing state libraries, but with provision for safeguarding special aspects of each library's identity. This recommendation had been accepted by the government of the day, and had been endorsed by a parliamentary select committee in 1958 and by the report of the Royal Commission on the State Services in 1962. At all stages there had been very open discussion of the proposal and the question of safeguards for existing services had been regarded as a priority by those who were promoting it. There was virtually unanimous agreement that New Zealand urgently needed a properly constituted, housed, and funded national library, but – and here's the rub – groups associated with the General Assembly Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library maintained, while expressing strong support for the concept, that the national library should not include one or other of those units. To a casual observer the way across a glacier might seem clear and without hazard, but an experienced mountaineer would know that beneath the surface there were crevasses. There could be crevasses beneath the smooth surface that the glacial progress of the national library proposal presented to the innocent eye, and it was knowledge of this probability that had led both Alley and the chairman of the State Services Commission to stress in 1956 that a national library administration should be established before the drafting of a statute. In appointing Alley to the position of national librarian the commission had chosen a strong and experienced guide.
By his appointment Alley had become the government's chief adviser on the process by which a national library should be brought into being. page 334Graham Bagnall was elected president of the NZLA in February 1964, before Alley's appointment as national librarian, but during the ensuing year he took care to act in relation to the national library as Alley's lieutenant, leaving the association's interests to be promoted by stalwarts like Stuart Perry, Clifford Collins, and John Sage (Perry's deputy and the association's honorary secretary).
In announcing Alley's appointment on 19 March 1964, the prime minister said that further decisions on the national library would not be taken until the report of an inter-departmental committee was received. This committee, which came to be referred to as the Officials Committee, had been set up by Cabinet when it decided in October 1963 to go ahead with the establishment of a national library,1 and it was now activated, in consultation with Alley, by the State Services Commission (SSC).2 It was chaired by A.G. Rodda (SSC), and its other principal members were L.M. Graham (Education), E.J. Fairway (Internal Affairs), H.N. Dollimore (Legislative – Clerk of the House), A.D. McIntosh (Prime Minister's Department), R.M. Muir (Treasury), and Alley. Others who attended meetings and took part in the discussions were E.G. Heggie and C.A. Lake of the SSC, Bagnall, M.G. (Michael) Hitchings (standing in for Cole, the Turnbull librarian, who was still on sick leave following his car accident), and Jim Wilson (General Assembly Library). The inclusion of McIntosh was ostensibly because of his interest in the design and siting of a future national library building, but it could well have been really because of his long-term interest, since the early 1930s, in the total question of a national library and his knowledge of the course of discussions which had taken place over that time. Other members of the committee, including Rodda and Graham, had long-standing knowledge of the National Library Service and the national library proposal. The committee was to report to Tom Shand in his capacity as chairman of the Cabinet committee on government administration, since the amalgamation of elements of three separate government departments was involved. Its brief was to report on ways of implementing the government's decision (as set out in the first paragraph of this chapter). Shand was a Marlborough farmer who has been described as an inquiring but decisive minister and an exacting administrator who had the gift of getting the best out of a succession of able public servants,3 and this project engaged his personal interest.
At its first meeting, on 29 April 1964, the officials committee decided that, although it had been asked to report on several matters, including accommodation relief for the National Library Service and a site and building for the national library, many of these would depend on statutory support for the administration, which at that stage consisted only of a recently appointed national librarian. It thought, therefore, that its first page 335priority should be the preparation of a bill, to be considered during the 1965 session of Parliament, to establish a national library by statute, and it asked Alley to prepare a draft for its consideration. Alley then asked Wilson, Hitchings, and Bagnall to meet him4 to discuss (a) the way in which various existing state library services could be carried out from, or in association with, the national library, (b) the safeguards which would be necessary in order to preserve the character of existing collections, and (c) ways in which necessary functions of a national library not currently being met could be discharged. At the first meeting of the four librarians5 he produced a paper on questions which should be considered in detail, including functions to be provided for, safeguards for existing services, and the possible integration of existing functions. This paper included the following brief statement of how the job of the national library might be described:
The task of the National Library is to collect, preserve, and make available for use as much as possible of the world's recorded knowledge for the benefit of mankind. It should inform the people of its holdings and facilitate their use. It should supplement the collections and further the work of other libraries in New Zealand, taking the lead in efforts to provide New Zealand scholarship with sources of the highest quallity. It should stimulate and enrich the cultural life of New Zealand and its cultural interchanges with other nations.
This passage is worth quoting because, although many later discussions resulted in amplifications, refinements, and clarifications, it remained the permanent basis for the objectives that Alley aimed for, and, in due course, in expanded form became section 6 of the National Library Act 1965. It did not, however, at this stage allay the objections to the whole proposal which the government had decided to overrule, and from which the Department of Internal Affairs did not waver. At the first meeting of the officials committee Fairway stated his department's position, which he maintained throughout subsequent meetings, that the Turnbull Library should not be included in the national library, on the grounds that the present and future standing and usefulness of the library would best be served by its retention as an independent organisation. 'The other departments represented,' said the committee's final report, 'did not agree with this position.' Fairway was, in fact, in an awkward position, being deprived of the support and counsel which Cole would have been able to give him, so that in some discussions his ignorance of basic matters of fact shone through.6 Support for his department's position came mainly from a limited number of people outside government circles.page 336
Jim Wilson, on the other hand, had been involved in discussions over the national library proposal for a decade or more, and was therefore able to present his concerns in rather more sophisticated terms. His main point was that if the General Assembly Library were to become part of a government department, subject to ministerial control, its staff might not be able to give impartial service to all members of Parliament regardless of their affiliations. But he did not have the support of his immediate superior, H.N. Dollimore, who reported to the committee at its first meeting that he had been 'instructed by the Speaker [Algie] to say that the latter favoured complete integration and was prepared to submerge [the General Assembly Library] to achieve this subject to safeguards … he had confidence in Mr Alley.'7 Nevertheless, the concerns raised by Wilson had the potential to have a strong effect on some members, who were of course not bound by the opinions of the Speaker.
Graham pointed out at the first meeting that the committee was not competent to question the Cabinet decision, and Muir completed the statements of position by saying that 'Treasury had no views – was interested in cost only'.8
After further discussions with both the group of librarians and the officials committee, Alley was able to present to the latter the preliminary draft of a bill, which the committee received at its fourth meeting on 27 July 1964.9 He said that it had been prepared more speedily than he would have liked, but it was, in fact, advanced enough for the committee to be able to consider it expeditiously.
While these discussions were going on, the library resources committee (the old book resources committee) of the NZLA tried again to revive the project for acquiring major works not held in any New Zealand library (described in chapter 12), which had been a particular interest of Alley's. In 1963, after representations by the association and one of its prominent members, Ethel McMillan MP, libraries were included specifically in the provisions for the Arts Council set up by the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council of New Zealand Act, but that council later decided not to make grants for the purchase of books;10 and an approach to the minister of education for £20,000 to be added to the National Library Service estimates for 1964–65 for the purchase of works in sets, to be placed in the libraries which were most appropriate to hold them, was also unsuccessful.11 Some progress had been made with the acquisition of material included in the original list which had been promoted by Alley, but the effort needed to extend the operation could not be made at this time, and a full-scale assault on the problem of filling gaps in the national resources had to wait until the 1970s.
In another modest move, the ability of the National Library Service to page 337locate requested material was improved when, following a suggestion by the Australian National Library, the two institutions began, in May 1964, to check each other's lists of unlocated items against their own records.12 This small initiative, which librarians were able to undertake without having to convince others of its merits, was a direct result of the Canberra seminar of 1958 and, in New Zealand, of the emphasis which Alley had placed on the work of the NZLA's book resources committee since 1941. And at about the same time Alley reviewed Anthony Thompson's Library Buildings of Britain and Europe (published by Butterworths in 1963), which touched on another of his enduring interests.13 After noting what he saw as the English ability to organise and make available the work of other people, he said that in the small world of professional librarianship the value of this book, which drew heavily on the United States for much of its important material and for many of its telling examples, lay in the methodical treatment of information about existing library buildings, or in some cases about buildings not yet completed. Its main use, he suggested, 'may very well turn out to be at the beginning or at the end of any study or search, as a checking point … rather than as a general guide for library planning'.
The draft bill which Alley produced for the July meeting of the officials committee provided for the national library to be attached to the Department of Education, but for the national librarian to have many of the powers and privileges of a permanent head. This was in fact a continuation of the situation that had existed for many years with the National Library Service, but additional provision was made for a board of trustees which could report independently as well as providing support in many ways. Preservation of the integrity of the General Assembly Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library had been given careful consideration, but this was an area which needed more attention, since it was only too easy for opponents to portray the project as one in which these two libraries were to be swallowed by the National Library Service, instead of one in which they added important strengths to the national library, which in turn would provide strong support for their services.
At first, the concerns of this kind which the committee focused on were those which related to the General Assembly Library (though it noted that there was a need for more prominence for the Turnbull Library in the bill). This was mainly because Wilson raised his points repeatedly, while the Department of Internal Affairs had been weakly represented in speaking of the Turnbull Library, but the committee was also no doubt conscious of the delicate path it had to tread in persuading parliamentarians to enact legislation which might affect services provided to themselves. The nub of the question was that whereas, under the existing arrangement, the staff of page 338the General Assembly Library were employed by the Legislative Department and the chief librarian was responsible to the Speaker, who was advised by the library committee of the House, under the proposed arrangement the staff would be employed by the State Services Commission and the chief librarian would be responsible to the national librarian, who would take over the responsibility for ensuring that Parliament was properly served. At the July meeting of the committee, Rodda made the following comment on these points: 'Either the National Librarian abdicates from General Assembly or he must be in a position to influence General Assembly Library. If the National Librarian is going to delegate everything to the General Assembly Librarian then he has no authority and his position becomes untenable. We should have a provision requiring the National Librarian to take notice of the requirements of the Library Committee of the House.'14 This provision was then written into the bill.
At the next meeting of the officials committee, on 10 August 1964, Wilson reported that the library committee of the House was not satisfied: 'I gather they are suspicious of this Committee,' he said, and he added, 'I am not certain myself that the Department of Education won't have some control.'15 After this meeting, Rodda and Alley decided that they had better meet the library committee of the House themselves. In order to clarify the situation regarding the possible secondment of staff to the General Assembly Library, Rodda asked Lake (a fellow member of the State Services Commission) to prepare some notes for him. In these16 Lake said that the SSC decided who worked in which department; the SSC, not the department, seconded officers; and the seconded officer came under the authority and direction of the permanent head of the new department and could not be removed from there except by the SSC; the Legislative Department was under the Speaker, and its permanent head was the Clerk of the House, to whom the seconded officer was responsible.
The implication of these notes was that the answer to Wilson's concerns lay in the way in which provision for the secondment of staff from the national library to the General Assembly Library should be made in the statute, but Lake also noted that 'The present Librarian is strongly against becoming part of the National Library and there has been a steady influencing of members along these lines.'17 So, on 20 August, Rodda, in his role as deputy chairman of the SSC, wrote to the Speaker saying that 'My Committee … through Mr J.O. Wilson has been made aware of the need for the Library Committee of the House to have further information on certain matters.' He said that in the case of the General Assembly Library the officials committee had had constantly in mind the paramount need for preserving the special relationship which existed between MPs and their library, while giving their staff the same employee status as the page 339present staffs of the NLS and the Turnbull Library. It thought that worries which had been expressed could be resolved by staff secondment to the Legislative Department and delegation of authority to the chief librarian of the General Assembly Library, plus a requirement for the trustees to report on the effectiveness of the service given to members, and the fact that the trustees would include three members from the legislature. He suggested that he and Alley should meet the library committee to discuss these matters.18
On three occasions Alley and Rodda met the library committee of the House, together with Wilson, who was always there ex officio.19 On the third occasion they provided answers to written questions, of which the following are examples:
Q. Who will decide what books to buy for the General Assembly Library? A. The Chief Librarian will decide in accordance with policy laid down by the Speaker [and] will also be on the committee for book buying policy for the whole of the National Library. Q. If the General Assembly Library staff come into the Public Service, will the National Library or the State Services Commission be able to appoint or remove staff without consultation? A. Assurances were given at the meeting [of the four Librarians] of 7 May 1964 that staff would not be 'drafted', nor staff movements made without consultation.
Three days after this last meeting, the Speaker dictated to Dollimore, Clerk of the House, a letter which said: 'Mr Speaker has authorised me to inform the Committee that he is now quite happy with the progress that has been made towards integration. He also directs me to inform the Committee that the Library Committee has unanimously endorsed the principle of the integration of the General Assembly Library as part of the National Library. As regards the appointment of the General Assembly Library staff to the Public Service and secondment to the control of the Speaker, the Committee is divided, but the majority of its members favour the transfer of the staff to the Public Service on the assumption that the existing conditions of service can be preserved.'20 When this letter was received by the officials committee Rodda 'stated that no change in the procedure was contemplated and reminded the Committee that the General Assembly Librarian's prime responsibility to Parliament was provided for in the draft Bill'.21
It was now possible for the officials committee to complete its report for submission to the chairman of the Cabinet committee on government page 340administration. The main points of its letter to Shand of 15 October 1964,22 signed by all its principal members, concerned the integration of the three state libraries and the need for legislation to give effect to this, and the draft bill, as far as the committee had been able to develop it, was forwarded for further refinement with a recommendation that it be introduced as early as possible in the 1965 session of Parliament. In a general comment, the committee said that it considered 'that the right degree of integration of the three libraries will be achieved gradually. The provision of a suitable building will do a great deal for it, but until that is brought about a considerable degree of integration can be achieved by merging supply, staffing and other services. Only by taking the first steps can the proper relationships between the various parts of the National Library be worked out in practice.'
On 23 October 1964 the Cabinet committee on government administration, with a number of officials present including members of the officials committee, recommended that Cabinet approve in principle the draft Bill and take various other related steps. The Cabinet committee's report was received by Cabinet four days later,23 and it did seem that the whole officials committee process was coming to a smooth and successful end. But …
On 22 October the minister of internal affairs, D.C. Seath, who had not so far interested himself actively in the question, wrote to Shand setting out at length his department's objections to the inclusion of the Alexander Turnbull Library in the national library,24 and on 16 November Cabinet referred back to its committee on government administration its recommendation concerning a national library.25 This was the start of the most public part of the controversy over whether there should be a national library and, if so, what form it should take. Before taking a deep breath and plunging into the torrent, however, we should now deal with some other matters that Alley was involved in, which were difficult enough on their own but could be overlooked in any account of this period of his career.
In August 1964 Alley wrote to the State Services Commission drawing its attention to 'the decision of the Government to equate maximum salaries payable to university librarians with that of the minimum for non-medical professors',26 and recommending that the commission invite the chairman of the University Grants Committee to appoint one or more of his officers to meet with an officer or officers of the commission and himself, to work out a joint scale for library staff to be agreed upon by both authorities.
The 'decision of the Government' was actually a resolution of the University Grants Committee which had not been vetoed by the government, and it had been promoted, within the UGC, by members who were concerned that New Zealand had not adopted a professorial page 341salary standard for university librarians which was commonly accepted in other countries. Its effect was dramatic, since it meant that the 'permissive maximum' was increased from £2530 to £3250,27 and most of the universities were known to be inclined to adopt the top figure. Alley rightly saw that in this case there would be pressure for other library salaries in the universities to be adjusted as well. His stated concern was that the available pool of professionally trained librarians in New Zealand was 'too small for any one sector to try to overcome its staff shortages by out-bidding the other sectors'.
A copy of Alley's letter fell into the hands of Geoffrey Briggs, deputy librarian at Victoria University, who sent copies to the other university libraries on 11 November 1964. When Clifford Collins tackled him about it, Alley said that his aim was to galvanise the State Services Commission into improving its library salary scales, which (if it was true and if it was the whole truth) seemed almost unbelievably naïve. Its effect was, on the contrary, to galvanise the commission, which was at that time intent on gaining control over all publicly-funded salaries throughout the country, into leaning on the University Grants Committee from then on. Collins had referred earlier in 1964, after discussing salary problems with Alley, to 'Geoff 's rather anti-Univ. tendency and his liability not to see that success in any part of the battle line by a salient should be pursued to a breakthrough … he may be a handicap to our univ. hopes to keep lib. folk from falling back relative to class teachers';28 and this turned out to be true, in this matter. For many years, until the late 1970s, university library staff, who at that time never thought of taking industrial action, found it impossible to get anyone to talk to them, even, about salaries.29
The attitude of the State Services Commission to the question of library salaries is one of those mysteries which can only be explained in terms of pragmatic exploitation of circumstances, and Alley suffered personally from it as much as anyone. One relevant consideration, which was clearly evident to anyone who took part in negotiations with the SSC in later years, was that all senior librarians in the country were employed by publicly-funded organisations. There was no other group of librarians which could be referred to for comparison, and from the SSC's point of view it was important to ensure that no senior library position in the public service, local government, or the universities gained an advantage which could be used as an unwelcome benchmark. In negotiations the SSC made much use of the dire threat of 'the ratchet effect', which, as is usual in management-speak, was a term which was used as an impressive clincher without much understanding of its meaning: as anyone who had worked in a woolshed would have known, a ratchet could be used not only to lift things, but also to compress (and the next stage in wool packaging is 'dumping').page 342
The unexpected action of the University Grants Committee in relation to university librarians was therefore a major break-out which, from the point of view of the State Services Commission, needed to be contained, and Alley's letter was useful in ways which he did not intend. But even if, in responding as he did to the UGC's action, Alley had not been altogether wise, it is hard to see what other action on his part would have been either wiser or more effective. He was faced with an intractable situation over staffing which had developed over the previous decade. When the graduate course of the Library School was established in 1946 its annual intake was capped at 30, but in the 1950s the government mounted an all-out campaign, by generous financial inducements, to corral new graduates into secondary school teaching, and one result of this was that from 1950 to 1959, when the Library School could have accepted 300 students, it was able to attract only 122 suitable candidates. The resulting crisis in library staffing was serious enough for other libraries, which were expanding and developing new services, but it was threatening for the National Library Service, which was beginning to lose experienced staff who were difficult to replace. University libraries, in particular, were in the early stages of responding to the expansion of the universities which followed the 1959 report of the Hughes Parry committee, and were seen by young librarians as growing points which were comparable to what the National Library Service had been after 1945. The problem was how to see beyond the limited view of the State Services Commission, and there is no evidence that anyone had a better idea of how to do this than Alley had.
On an earlier occasion, writing to the State Services Commission in 1962, Alley had said that 'The Commission should be aware of the trends already manifest in the New Zealand library scene … Not merely New Zealand but the [National Library] Service in particular desperately needs people of the calibre which it is losing. Within the Service the need for job relativity can be carried too far if, when conservatism and loyalty have run their course to retirement, only the least satisfactory are left.'30 In his 1964 letter he said that 'One University Librarian, two deputy University librarians, and at least ten heads of department at present employed in university libraries had their basic professional experience in a state library, and the National Library Service contributed most of these.' His aim, as he told Collins, was to try to get better conditions for state librarians; the aim of the State Services Commission was to prevent competitive bidding, though there was also evidence that officers of the SSC failed to understand the desire of librarians to move to jobs where opportunities were opening up for innovative and expanding work.31
In 1961 Stuart Perry had written a note, presumably in preparation for his meeting with the Royal Commission on the State Services, in which he page 343said that 'at present the D/NLS [Alley] gets the same as a senior inspector of schools, well below the other principal positions – university and local body – though his Service is so much larger. Has a stabilising effect, no doubt, on other salaries, but it has effectively prevented any real recognition of a quite exacting profession which demands high qualifications and the absence of incentives has had a disastrous effect on recruiting.'32 As we have seen, although the royal commission had recommended that the position of national librarian should be graded at the same level as an assistant director of education, Alley's appointment to it was at about 15 per cent below that level. The stabilising effect was preserved, but one does wonder at the determination with which this objective was pursued.
At the lower reaches of the library community, down among the library assistants, the same sort of bloody-mindedness was displayed, supported by a perception that library work was women's work. Implementation of the Government Service Equal Pay Act 1960 must have imposed a heavy burden on hard-worked SSC staff, but library staff, at least, could be dealt with without too much trouble. There is a note in the file devoted to library pay rates which says: 'All library assistants are female but when the Equal Pay Determination 49 was issued we made no change in their rates on the grounds that existing rates would have applied to males also – in effect, that they already had equal pay.'33 There is an air of clever dishonesty about this which, one has to remark, says 'Wellington', and which the rest of the country finds rather unendearing. It was overturned the next year, when extra steps were added to the scale for library assistants, bringing it back into line with the clerical scale,34 but the fact that it had to be contested indicates an attitude to library work which had to be overcome before sensible discussion of library salaries could be undertaken. Long before this time it was believed by library staff at all levels in the National Library Service that equal pay, which Alley insisted upon and took some pride in, was all very well, but it was equal pay on women's rates.
It is exceedingly tedious to have to be forever conscious of salary scales and relativities, and it tends to give outsiders the impression of an occupational group with an enormous chip on its shoulder. It also creates situations in which various sub-groups are tempted to try to undermine each other, gaining a few points but losing what is more important, a sense of solidarity. But these problems can more profitably be seen as impediments which the whole group should work on together in a wider context. In one sense, Alley's suggestion that an attempt should be made to work out a joint scale for state and university library staffs had some point, but it was a defensive reaction to a particular situation and it was put to the wrong people for the wrong reasons and could only be counter-productive. At this time the library profession was working in an environment in which libraries had page 344rapidly become more complex, with larger and more varied resources, and with much greater demands placed on them. The problem was not the proper treatment of library assistants (important though that was in terms of conditions of employment), but building up and sustaining a strong library profession. The keywords were not salary scales and relativities but recruitment and retention. The levels that had to be focused on were the professional grades; if these were filled with first-rate people, good staff would be attracted to the lower ranks and would provide professional recruits for the future.
The immediate problem facing the library profession in New Zealand in the 1960s was quantitative, but underlying it were a number of qualitative considerations. On the supply side, after noting that the Library School had estimated that there were three positions offering for each of its graduates, Jock McEldowney calculated that the university libraries alone, which had 154 staff members (professional and non-professional) in 1964, would need 299 by 1969, and that, depending on how the line was drawn between professional and non-professional positions, and allowing for replacements, they would need between 14 and 17 professional recruits annually over that period. Adding the requirements of non-university libraries, he suggested that the annual demand for professional recruits might be something like 43 in 1970 and 73 in 1985. But numbers were not the only consideration; McEldowney also commented that 'even if the [Library] School remains in the National Library Service it cannot continue to have an organisation designed to deal with about twenty students. Its quarters and scale of staffing must be improved, and somehow the hand of the State Services Commission must be removed from its throat. Unless the School can make use of greater numbers of enrolments to build up its staff, vary its courses, and establish a real tradition of original work, it will not present a tempting prospect for likely entrants to the profession.'35
These comments were made some two years after Stuart Perry's suggestion that the time had come for the Library School to go to a university, and after members of the NZLA had been influenced by some overseas statements on library education. In particular they had taken note of a report of a discussion between British and North American librarians in 195936 which had been held to try to work out ways of equating American and British qualifications, and which agreed on a standard based on a university degree or diploma followed by a professional qualification granted by an appropriately accredited library school, or (in the case of the UK) the associateship of the Library Association. As McEldowney pointed out,37 the New Zealand school would not have qualified for North American-style accreditation at that time, since, quite apart from the quality or lack of quality of its programme, it was not 'a professional school page 345… organized and maintained by an institution of higher education'. At about the same time the board of examination of the Library Association of Australia recommended that the association's council should require all new entrants to full professional standing to be not only qualified in librarianship but also graduates.38
There was considerable interest in a paper by W.L. Saunders, head of the new postgraduate library school at Sheffield University, who said: 'I see the likelihood of a great shortage of professionally qualified graduate librarians in the coming years, and we want no depressed areas in librarianship, for this would mean a state of affairs which would make a bad situation worse by nourishing one branch of the profession at the expense of another. We want good careers in university and special and public library work, careers that will attract the greatly increased number of good graduate recruits that will be essential in the years ahead.'39 This statement was especially apposite because it had been suggested that university librarians wanted a university school in New Zealand so that they could corner its output. Graham Bagnall, approaching the topic from another angle in his thoughtful presidential address to the NZLA in February 1965,40 commented: 'Upon the essential core of general and special education must be superimposed some professional training which draws constantly upon a wide and developing range of technical skills. What gives success which can be instantly recognised when seen is an individual amalgam of personality, training and judgement which in its highest application is essentially an art.'
An amalgam of all the ideas which emerged during these years did not necessarily indicate that a library school must be established at Victoria University of Wellington, but it did point in that direction, and an increasing number of the senior librarians of the day were keen to pursue the possibility. Stuart Perry had said, in his 1961 report, that 'In establishing our Library School the N.Z. Government in effect did a university job before the University was ready to do it', and the NZLA document which recommended that an approach be made to Victoria University41 was prepared by a committee consisting of Brian O'Neill (convener), Geoffrey Briggs, Ted Leatham, Jock McEldowney, John Sage, and David Wylie, all of whom except Briggs (who had trained in Britain) were graduates of the New Zealand Library School. But Alley, who had said in 1941 that 'No one would be so absurd as not to want to have this [a degree in librarianship]',42 was now not inclined to join them. The Library School which had been created within the National Library Service, and of which he was justifiably proud, had become one of his treasured possessions, a taonga. He did not trust a university to take over its work. Without openly opposing the movement towards a university school, he did not help to page 346remove obstacles in its path; in fact, he thought up some of his own, one of which was his swift action to have the school take over the certificate course.
In July 1963, putting up another diversion, Alley suggested that Victoria University should introduce a crash course to make up the numbers required by the university libraries, but members of the NZLA committee did not buy this. One point that was made in favour of the idea was that it would postpone the need to make a decision on the future of the existing school. But, as John Sage said at the time, 'it would affect the present school, deleteriously, and … the universities do not have a "crash" need, but one of continuous and steady expansion'.43
Alley had some discussions with the vice-chancellor of Victoria University, James Williams, but they were not meetings of minds. Williams did, however, communicate with representatives of the NZLA in 1964,44 and later in that year he asked for a memorandum setting out the reasons for a library school to be established at Victoria University.45 In July 1964, also, Stuart Perry reported on a discussion he had had with Williams ('an old friend'), who had indicated that, although the university librarian's salary had not got to professorial level ('though I gather he thought this desirable'), he would not want to open a school without a professor; but nor would he want the head of the school to be paid more than the university librarian. A quandary, but equally worrying, was Perry's perception that Williams had very little understanding of what was needed in a senior librarian. Incidentally, Williams told Perry that he regarded Alley's unusual position in the Education Department as the government's biggest single weapon in keeping library salaries down.46
For Alley, his discussions with Williams seem to have been a tactical move to pre-empt the more serious negotiations which the NZLA wanted to take part in. In November 1964 the association's council asked Alley 'to give his opinion on whether a library school should be established at one of the universities and whether he would be willling to take part in discussions with the Vice-Chancellor and representatives of the Association about transferring the present school to the Victoria University of Wellington'.47 Alley replied that 'he could not at present answer yes or no to this question but that he would be glad to have a talk with the Vice-Chancellor and the Hon. Secretary of the NZLA'.48 This did not happen until late in 1965.
McEldowney wrote later that, even with the complications that were involved, including the problem of the certificate course, 'it should have been a simple enough matter for the National Library Service and the University to work out a solution with the assistance of the Association. Things did not turn out this way, however, and the Association found itself faced with the difficult task of trying to persuade not one, but two, page 347horses to drink, and nearly drowned itself in the attempt.'49 For most of 1965 nothing more happened on the library education front – im Westen nichts neues – because all the librarians involved were preoccupied by the vicissitudes of the National Library Bill.
The letter which the minister of internal affairs, Seath, wrote to Tom Shand on 22 October 1964, setting out his department's objections to the proposals regarding the place of the Turnbull Library in a national library, was referred to Alley by his minister, Arthur Kinsella. Graham Bagnall commented to Alley that it was 'hard to summarize them since most are based on plain misconception of (a) proposals incorporated in Bill; (b) actual situation on WTu, WGa, WN; (c) place of all collections in research, etc.', but that it would be necessary to answer each point in detail.50 It has to be remembered that Bagnall, although an officer of the National Library Service, had been a member of the staff of the Turnbull Library and had remained one of its most scholarly and productive users, as well as being a key figure in scholarly library organisation, so that Alley's lengthy response,51 which Bagnall undoubtedly helped to compose, carried considerable weight as a contribution to the controversy which was developing. A few core samples might help to illustrate this point.
After acknowledging efforts made since 1918 by Internal Affairs to house the original bequest, to add to it and give access to it, Alley said that now 'the Department seems more concerned to retain the Turnbull Library under its control than to consider dispassionately arrangements and safeguards which will enhance the collections in the National Library setting'. With regard to the status of the Turnbull Library, Alley acknowledged that it was an outstanding collection, but said that a claim that it was the premier research library in the Southern Hemisphere was 'a little naïve' in the face of Australian resources such as the Mitchell Library in Sydney and the National Library in Canberra. Concerning a suggested 'moral obligation to the original donor', he said that Turnbull's intention was unequivocally clear: he left his collection as the nucleus of 'a national collection', and the obligation was to provide the national collection and preserve the nucleus, which was what the national library, governed by safeguards set out in the bill, would do. Seath had referred to 'public protests and representations', which Alley said had stemmed directly from a press campaign organised by Pat Lawlor in March 1964. This, he said, showed a lack of appreciation of what the national library was really for and a complete disregard of the government statement that the Turnbull collection would be preserved: 'Cabinet should note that no scholar publicly criticised the National Library proposal.' 'Scholars go where the research material is,' he added, 'and require the best service which a National Library can give.'
Despite these cogent arguments, Seath was unmollified, and after he page 348had 'pounded the table'52 on 16 November, Cabinet referred the national library proposal back to its committee on government administration, enjoining it to sort things out with 'those interests concerned about the future of the Turnbull Library' before including the item again in the Cabinet's agenda.
There followed a period of controversy which precluded earlier intentions to introduce a bill to Parliament early in 1965. The 'interests concerned about the future of the Turnbull Library' were mainly the executive of the Friends of the Turnbull Library and others associated with them, particularly in Wellington, who started a new campaign of letters to Wellington newspapers. Denis Glover, the new president of Friends, took over with gusto the role that Pat Lawlor had played in the past. He was spoiling for a fight and was prepared to continue as long as his opponents were still on their feet. During the coming months, according to his biographer, 'Principal targets became Geoff Alley, and Jock McEldowney in his capacity as 1965 president53 of the New Zealand Library Association. Despite the fact that Glover was a personal friend of both, as well as others such as J.H.E. Schroder who came out in support of the bill, nobody was spared the Glover invective.'54
John Sage wrote, as honorary secretary of the NZLA, to the prime minister on 11 December 1964 to say that the NZLA was disturbed by the implications of a report published in the Dominion the previous day in which Glover had referred to the efforts his group had been making to have the separate administration of the Turnbull Library retained by Internal Affairs. He pointed out that the government's decision to include the Turnbull in a national library had been based on the unanimous recommendation of three separate committees of inquiry, all of which had emphasised the importance of retaining the identity of the Turnbull collection, and said, 'My Association would be firmly opposed to any threat to that identity, and I am sure the present interdepartmental committee would take a similar view.'55
Towards the end of January 1965 Alley and Rodda met with Shand to assist him in preparing a ministerial statement, which was published in both the Dominion and the Evening Post on 23 January. In this statement Shand said that the identity and individuality of the Alexander Turnbull Library would be preserved under the government's proposals. 'The whole concept of a National Library,' he said, 'is to ensure the future expansion and enrichment of the cultural resources of our three State libraries', and he appealed to the Friends of the Turnbull Library and others concerned to withhold judgement until they could discuss not the 'takeover' that some people feared, but the actual proposal.56 Shand also met representatives of the Friends, with Alley and Rodda present, and gave them copies of the page 349preliminary draft bill which had been prepared by the officials committee. Early in February he sent copies of the draft to both the Friends and the NZLA, inviting them to comment on it.57
Despite these overtures, the reaction of the Friends remained hostile. Many of its records of the time refer to its 'fighting' the government's proposals, and at a meeting of the Friends' committee Michael Hitchings, who had been involved in meetings of the officials committee, said (referring to Cabinet's referral back of the report of the committee on government administration) that although the war had not been won the first battle had been a victory for the Friends.58 The NZLA, which of course was more likely to be in favour of the proposals, reserved its response until they could be discussed at its annual conference, which was to take place from 16 to 19 February 1965.
During January 1965 past presidents of the NZLA sent a letter, probably drafted by Stuart Perry, to major newspapers in which they said that agitation against the government's decision to constitute a national library had not been 'widespread and consistent' but had come from one quarter only, and, furthermore, that for the Turnbull Library to remain isolated would frustrate its effective development.59 Apart from this letter, however, the controversy, if it had raged at all, had done so mainly in Wellington. As McEldowney, writing to Bagnall from Dunedin, said, it 'might as well be in Omsk or Tomsk for all the effect it has here'.60 But it became a wider issue when an editorial on the topic was published in the New Zealand Listener,61 and when, a few days later, the matter was discussed at the NZLA conference. In view of the inevitably delayed effect of the editorial, it is appropriate to discuss the second of these events, the conference discussion, first.
There was a major debate on the national library proposals at a full session of the NZLA conference on 17 February 1965.62 Of the 191 members and delegates who attended the conference, not many had seen the draft bill which had been referred to the association by Shand, but so many reports and documents had been published during the long campaign that it would have been surprising if any were unaware of the views which had been put forward by the association, or of the way in which they had been received by a succession of public inquiries. Stuart Perry began the discussion by outlining the history of the campaign and by explaining the way in which the draft bill had been designed to implement the aim of the establishment of a national library, and he moved a motion of support for the government's proposals.
There followed one of the most emotionally fraught episodes in the history of the New Zealand Library Association. John Cole, who was still suffering from the effects of his car accident, spoke strongly against the page 350motion. 'I personally took no part in the deliberations of the Committee of Officials who met and ultimately made recommendations which produced this draft bill before you,' he said, referring to the fact that Michael Hitchings had had to stand in for him. 'The truth is that no full and open discussion of the functions of the National Library have taken place among professional librarians for fifteen years to my knowledge. Over a long period of years at various times on the Council I have made no less than four attempts to initiate discussion. On each occasion I was squashed either by the assertion that the Association had formulated its policy years ago or by a plea that full discussion would be liable to give an impression of division in our ranks and that this would be impolitic.' After he had made more comments which expressed disquiet about the way in which representatives of the association had conducted themselves, he moved an amendment which was a direct negative and which was not accepted by the chairman.
Alley and McEldowney then went over various steps which had been taken over the years to try to ensure that matters of concern were taken into account in developing the proposals. Alley said, in addition: 'In the matter of discussion, could I get on record that the committee that worked on this recommended that the bill be made available to responsible bodies – yes, and that is being done in an interim measure by Mr Shand … But later, when the bill is introduced in the House, very much more opportunity will come. There will be a second reading and a committee stage'. Other speakers, including Graham Bagnall, who was in the chair, also pointed out that support for the proposals should not preclude a request that there should be opportunities to propose further improvements.
Cole then proposed an amendment to the effect that, while supporting the principle of a national library, the association should recommend the fullest opportunity for further submissions and recommendations to the government. This could have been discussed, and probably modified in a normal sort of way, but then Cole made some personal remarks about Andrew Osborn, refused to withdraw them, resigned from the association and asked that his decision be recorded in the press. Bagnall then adjourned the meeting for lunch. When it resumed, Cole withdrew his resignation, and the applause which greeted the withdrawal was as great as any that had ever occurred at any meeting of the NZLA.
The John Cole who spoke at this meeting was a very sick man. His friends, and there were many of them present, were shocked to see him exposed in such a condition. He had clearly forgotten that he was one of the three authors of the submission which the NZLA had made to the Royal Commission on the State Services, and that the other two authors had made it their priority to ensure that his views were embodied in it. Many page 351of his other remarks were not based on his own experience. It seemed to a lot of those who were present that he had been unfairly put up to attract sympathy in presenting other people's views.
Following this discussion, in which several members made the point that approval of the government's proposals should not imply acceptance of all the detail of the draft bill,63 the council sent Shand the following resolution, which had been carried by the open meeting:
That this conference strongly supports the Government in its National Library policy and expresses its fullest confidence in the measures that are being taken. The conference expresses the opinion that not only will the distinct interests of each of the component libraries be safeguarded and advanced by the steps the Government is now taking, but that the community at large will receive very much fuller and better service when the combined organization comes into being. The Association accordingly welcomes the Government's proposal to introduce a Bill to establish a National Library.
In transmitting the resolution, the council told Shand that it had been passed unanimously (which was true to the extent that no vote had been cast against it), and that it was considering the bill in detail and would like to discuss it with him at a later date. It set up a committee to draft a submission for Shand and to prepare a pamphlet setting out the association's views for public distribution. The committee, consisting of Stuart Perry (convener), Clifford Collins, and David Wylie, with the president (Jock McEldowney) and the honorary secretary (John Sage) ex officio, included (deliberately) no member of the staffs of the three state libraries, but it was empowered to discuss matters with them. Finally, the council decided to inform members of the association that the draft bill had been prepared, and that the minister might be prepared to make copies available to interested library authorities if they wrote to him.64 So, with due deliberation, preparations were made for representatives of the NZLA to be able to meet with Shand, a meeting which took place on 2 April 1965.
On the other side of the fence, so to speak, Monte Holcroft's editorial in the issue of the New Zealand Listener for 12 February 1965 provided, and was designed to provide, a focus for public and nationwide debate. Holcroft, a journalist and an admired essayist, had edited the Listener since 1949 and had made a feature of its regular editorials, which he always signed M.H.H. 'At a time when most New Zealand journalism betrayed a narrow conformism,' says Andrew Mason in the Dictionary of New Zealand Biography, 'Holcroft not only opened up the range of topics considered page 352acceptable for public debate, but applied to them a depth of understanding and tolerance born of his wide reading and reflection.'65 On this occasion Holcroft's editorial was devoted to the national library proposals, mainly with reference to the Alexander Turnbull Library, which, he said, was 'particularly vulnerable to any threat of subordination'. Of the National Library Service (which he described without mentioning the Country Library Service, though he did include the School Library Service), he said, 'This is the true nucleus of a National Library: it would become one quickly enough, and reach its proper proportions, if it were housed adequately, and with room to grow. But does it need Alexander Turnbull and General Assembly? More pertinently, would the specialist libraries suffer from its overshadowing presence?'
Judicious and reasonable, Holcroft was well versed in the arguments that had been put forward by the Friends of the Turnbull Library, but shaky on other views which had been expressed over many years but which had passed him by. His editorial did start a correspondence from a dozen or so people,66 who were fairly evenly divided, numerically, in their allegiances. A key figure in the eyes of partisans on both sides was Eric McCormick, a leading scholar of New Zealand art and literature whose biography of Alexander Turnbull, published a decade later, became the definitive account of his life and work. McCormick was lobbied by both parties and came down (somewhat reluctantly) in favour of the proposals. 'Why not go ahead with the proposed scheme,' he wrote, 'modifying it where possible to meet the objectives that you and others have raised?'
Graham Bagnall, who wrote to McCormick asking him to raise a voice, said that the proposal 'has been opposed by the Friends of the Turnbull Library and Pat Lawlor, largely inheriting the fears of Alley engendered for years by Clyde T[aylor]. This is a proposal which transcends personalities and for the sake of future development should go ahead. Alley altho' National Librarian in name awaits a Cabinet decision to be one in fact and in any case will be with us for only a short time longer … I don't care who becomes National Librarian so long as this aim is achieved.'67
Bertram was the only university academic who wrote to the Listener to support Holcroft. Schroder wrote that he had been impressed by the editorial and by letters from Bertram and Glover, but that he was more impressed by contrary evidence, including comments that Bagnall had made at the NZLA conference, by the NZLA's officially recorded opinion, and by newspaper comments by Perry and by Joan Stevens and eight of her Victoria University colleagues (especially J.C. Beaglehole).68 From the University of Auckland, a letter to the local paper supporting the proposals was signed by eight more people, including J.C. Reid, Keith Sinclair, and M.P.K. Sorrenson, who were well known in the Turnbull Library.69 On the page 353whole, it is fair to say that in this bout supporters of the national library proposal won on points, though a knockout blow had not been delivered.
On 23 March Collins (the Peacemaker) met with Glover, Hitchings, and Iris Winchester (reference librarian in the Turnbull Library) to try to smooth things over, but the Friends' report of that meeting was strongly hostile to Collins in its tone.70 Hitchings said that the present draft bill had only been produced as a result of considerable pain and ill-feeling and was not as put forward in the first draft by Alley and Bagnall. When Glover said that he did not believe a board of trustees could control a national librarian, Collins replied that the board would be there to support the national librarian, not to control him. They were not talking the same language. Feelings remained high, and Cole, writing to Collins after Hitchings had resigned to move to the Hocken Library at the University of Otago, said that his loss to the Turnbull Library was due to his unwillingness to work with Alley.71 On the other hand, Winchester, who was to become the acting chief librarian when Hitchings left, replied to a correspondent who was worried about the possible fate of donations that such material would be equally prized by a national library, especially if the Turnbull Library's integrity were safeguarded,72 which indicated a rather more conciliatory attitude.
After Shand had agreed to meet a deputation from the NZLA early in April, Perry set about vigorously getting his committee to prepare a submission to present to him. He asked all members of the council to give him their ideas, and he also asked Alley and others outside the council to comment on particular points.
Wilson sent a comment which was notable as a measured expression of a genuine concern: 'I believe that a National Library is an essential feature of the New Zealand library system but I am not happy about the place envisaged for the General Assembly Library in the scheme. The exact place is not clear from the Act, the safeguards are not exactly defined, but the degree of integration seems to be too great to allow the Library to give best service to Parliament … It seems to me that as part of the National Library the General Assembly Library has been considered more as a collection of books than as the institution which provides information for individual members of Parliament. It does not matter anywhere near so much who controls the books, the important factor is the control of staff.'73 This point, which Wilson repeated at various stages during the next few months, was of course taken into account, as were other comments, as attempts were made to fine-tune the bill on its way through the legislative process.
Alley gave his opinions on such matters as the interpretation of a clause in the equivalent Australian act, the appointment of trustees, and the administration of trustees' funds, and he offered the following comment page 354on clause 5, 'Officers to act under direction of National Librarian', in which certain positions, including the chief librarians of the General Assembly and Turnbull libraries, were named: 'It will be necessary to keep these designations. Time may or may not give a more appropriate rendering of what the holders of the posts do. Meantime it is an identity that is being kept. And there should be a Parliamentary Librarian. If some way can be found without undermining the overall authority, the National Librarian might well be excluded from holding the 2 posts'.74
Collins, who had always been valuable for his attention to detail, caused some concern on this occasion by appearing to want to examine every comma in case it should be a semi-colon, but Bagnall said that 'the Committee at this stage should not get lost in the wood … As one of the most distinguished of the National Library supporters said privately, you can't legislate for safeguards beyond a certain point; in the end it depends on personalities … watch the Collins minutiae.'75 The committee finally adopted a view which had been expressed by McEldowney: 'I think we should report positively that we consider that the Bill should proceed, and that, although we wish to make various points and, if possible, secure some alterations, we do not consider that any of our objections are sufficient to upset the whole proposal.'76 Its report,77 which was fairly brief, was approved on 1 April by the NZLA council, which sent it immediately to Shand in preparation for the meeting which had been fixed for the next day. At the same time, the council approved the draft of a pamphlet, prepared by Perry and McEldowney, of which 5000 copies were to be printed and held for distribution at an appropriate time.
The deputation from the NZLA which met Shand on 2 April 1965 consisted of the members of the special committee (Perry, Collins, Wylie, McEldowney, and Sage). Shand had with him the minister of internal affairs (Seath) and two members of his department, as well as Alley and Rodda. Shand conducted the meeting knowledgeably and gave prompt but considered decisions on the points raised by the association, which, in its turn, had concentrated on a limited number of requests for changes to a draft bill which it supported in general. Among other things, the association requested that the national librarian be given, in the bill, the status of a permanent head, direct access to the minister, and the right to appear before the public accounts committee. Shand said it was not usual for such provisions to be written into statutes, but agreed to a suggestion by Rodda that the post of national librarian should be named as one of the 80 or so which were subject to the special appointments procedure for permanent heads and other senior officials.
The NZLA asked that the position of director of extension services, covering both the NLS and the SLS, should be added to those which were page 355named in the bill, namely the national librarian, the chief librarians of the General Assembly and Alexander Turnbull libraries, and the deputy national librarian, as ones of which no person could hold 'substantively' more than one. This request, which was important to the association since it emphasised the special status of extension services and also indicated that it was three, not two, libraries which were to be merged in the national library, was agreed to. Seath raised the question of the future location of non-New Zealand and Pacific material held by the Turnbull Library. On this point Shand suggested that any transfers be subject to the agreement of the minister on the advice of the trustees, and the NZLA representatives concurred. Some other minor requests were not agreed to, but in its report to the NZLA council the deputation said that 'the Minister appeared to be in agreement with the tenor of most of the Association's submissions. No objections were raised by any of the officials present, in the course of the fairly full discussion which took place.'78
Shand also met representatives of the Friends of the Turnbull Library early in April. Writing to him afterwards, Glover said that they were indebted to him for his valuable time, and he noted with pleasure that he had agreed to a number of points made by the Friends, 'either as worded or in substance'. But he also said that members of the deputation still believed that the draft bill did not provide adequate or precise safeguards, in the absence of which 'donors and collectors will be chary about depositing'.79
In April Shand also took the trouble to write to J.H.E. Schroder, whom he knew well,80 to answer questions which Schroder had raised about which department was best suited to be home to the national library It is worth quoting this letter at some length, since it throws light on the thinking of the minister who was most closely involved with the national library project:
I myself do not have any great preferences as between departments, but one can narrow the choice down fairly rapidly to the Department of Internal Affairs or the Education Department. The Department of Internal Affairs is a traditional omnibus department, and has many unconnected functions, some of which are of very considerable importance. Bearing in mind the very great importance of libraries in the national education programme, the majority of our advisers felt that the library would be more adequately served in association with Education than by the Internal Affairs Department.
Frankly, as Minister deputising for the Prime Minister in responsibility for the general organisation of the State Services, I am most unhappy about the use of the Internal Affairs Department as an omnibus department and the tendency for functions to remain with that Department long after the page 356logic of the situation dictates that they should be transferred to another Department. The senior administrative officers of Internal Affairs cannot hope to be competent advisers to their Minister in respect of each and all of their disparate functions. On the other hand, I must confess to be increasingly concerned, or should I say, to have increasing doubts about the capacity of the senior officers of the Education Department to free themselves sufficiently from the problems of day to day administration to give proper attention to the formulation of education policy and particularly to policy in respect of the less publicly or popularly understood areas of education, such as the development of technical and technological education … In practice however, the National Librarian would be in the position of a departmental head reporting directly to his Minister, associated with the Education Department only for the provision of accounting services.
One must take account too, of the likely capacity of future Ministers. I think in the average administration, the man chosen for the portfolio of Education would be much more likely to have an appreciation of the work and importance of the National Library than would the man chosen as Minister of Internal Affairs.81
In its report for the March 1965 year the Department of Internal Affairs reiterated its opinion that the Turnbull Library should stay where it was, citing its world-wide reputation and saying that its current status encouraged bequests.82 Wilson, in his annual report, noted that progress had been made towards the national library, 'though much still remains to be made clear about the part of the General Assembly Library. It is important,' he said, 'that the rights of members of Parliament in the Library and in particular their right to obtain all the information they require freely and without bias should be preserved.'83
In May 1965 the quarterly journal Comment carried an article on the national library question by Joan Stevens,84 a respected member of the English Department at Victoria University, who had earlier written to the Dominion on the topic. After remarking that 'The controversy over the establishment of a National Library for New Zealand in Wellington has been conducted, with some honourable exceptions, with so much rhetoric that the public may be excused for thinking it all an affair of the "Cops and Robbers" kind between the Friends and the "Enemies" of the Alexander Turnbull Library', she said that the issues at stake were more serious and less local than that. She set out the long history of the proposal and alluded to the questions which had led to the current controversy. She then addressed the question of the role in the controversy of the Friends of the Turnbull Library in this way:page 357
The most vociferous opposition has come, however, from a small group of people who, quite rightly, greatly value the Alexander Turnbull Library, but who, quite wrongly, interpret this attempt to remedy some of its ills as an outright attack upon it. They fear that in a bigger organisation under the Department of Education, the Turnbull Library's individual qualities, courtesy, personal attention, facilities for leisurely browsing, loving care for fine things, will be lost. This fear is, I suggest, an irrational one, for has not the Turnbull always been administered by a Government Department? There are plenty of examples from other parts of the world to suggest that a unique collection such as this can be very successfully sustained and developed under the sheltering umbrella of a larger institution. The King's Library in the British Museum, the Advocates Library in the National Library of Scotland, are two famous examples. Those who instance such libraries as the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York in support of their argument that things should remain as they are, forget that Morgan left a fortune, Turnbull left none. The Turnbull Library is now, and has been for fifty years, supported from the pockets of New Zealand citizens …
The fact that the group of wellwishers who banded together in 1939 took a title frequently used overseas in such a connection, 'Friends of the …', has given its spokesmen in the present controversy an obvious linguistic weapon. A 'Friend' can be opposed to an 'Enemy', and it is easy thereby to suggest that all those who do not agree with what 'Friends' advocate must, in fact, be 'Enemies'. This I emphatically deny. Those who, like myself, see the best future for the Turnbull Collection in a full and fruitful association with the National Library claim to be 'Friends' equally with those who hold different views.
The controversy which had occurred, and might even be said to have raged, since the Cabinet had referred the national library proposal back to its committee on government administration in November 1964 had enabled those who opposed it to make their opposition more public, but it had also shown that it had very strong support from a wide range of highly respected people. To that extent, it had been valuable in helping to clarify problems which caused quite legitimate concern and to suggest ways in which they might be handled. By the end of May 1965 Shand had decided that the time had come to place the matter before the Cabinet again. It was considered by Cabinet on 24 and 25 May, when, despite some objections from Seath, Cabinet decided to send the draft bill to the law draftsman so that it could be introduced in the current session. In telling John Sage, as honorary secretary of the NZLA, of these moves, Alley said that Cabinet's decision had been 'decisive',85 but there was in fact another hurdle to be negotiated. Cabinet wanted support from the government caucus, which page 358set up a small committee to meet and report back on it. This meeting, which took place on 3 June 1965, was referred to by both Alley and Bagnall as 'the crucial meeting'. We can do no better, at this stage, than quote Alley's own account of it, which was quite unofficial though he headed it 'Minutes':
Minutes [sic] of a meeting, 3 June, 1965, 9.15 a.m. of a Committee of Caucus held in Committee Room next to office of Hon. T.P. Shand, Parliament House. Characters in order of appearance:
Mr. D. McIntyre 9.20 Mrs. E.T. Tombleson 9.21 Mr. R. Jack 9.23 Sir Leslie Munro 9.31
T.P.S. gave some background – some of it a little wide of the mark – and the first discussion was centred on the part of WGa [the General Assembly Library] in the National Library. The obvious points were made – representation of the H. of R. on Trustees – need for stream-lining service to members – need for satisfying Parliament that it had the service it wanted. Some members showed that they had not grasped the main points of the thing – 'The library service to members might be taken away' – put in the 4th floor of a building in the Govt. Centre. All reasonably enough dealt with. Aderman very helpful & keen on it.
Discussion then switched to Turnbull; here T.P.S. gave a wildly generous and wrong estimate of the part played by C.R.H.T. [Taylor] the 'former librarian' of WTu [Turnbull] as he styled him in contrast to the present holder – C.R.H.T. was very keen to see the National Library established – obviously an extension of the famous take-over attempt.86 T.P.S. described D. Glover as an alcoholic acquaintance of his & generally gave the friends and J.R.C. [Cole] a bad report – with exception of Sir John Ilott whom he praised highly & this gave the opening for a fuller discussion of the Trustees. Who were they and what did they do? This was explained by G.T.A. & relevant parts of the Bill cited. Munro who by this time had arrived wanted to know about them 'Would there be a librarian on the Trustees?' The agreed amendment to the composition of the Trustees was quoted (Royal Society, F.O.T.L. to be consulted) T.P.S. saying he thought there would be fuller discussion about Trustees – (under statement!).page 359
Mrs. Tombleson raised the 'wing & separate existence in a N.L. building' nonsense for the Turnbull & this was shot down in flames, I hope, G.T.A. pointing out with R.D. Muldoon nodding agreement, that two national libraries were more than we could really afford.R Jack raised four points on WGa:
1. He had thought the library would be moved! Incredible but he was assured on that. 2. He quite saw the need for doing something about the 'vast historical' collections & it was an advantage, he thought, to have them go to a National Library. 3. He had still some doubts about the Parliamentary Library being a part of a National Library, even when stream-lined. I pointed out it was a question of National resources & Commonwealth [of Australia] precedents didn't really help. 4. As to staff being seconded. This dealt with by T.P.S. & A.G.R. on usual lines under career service, etc., etc.
A by-product – T.P.S.: 'We expect the deputy N.L. or Assistant Librarian will have a status more than that of any librarian of a major library in the country.' G.T.A.: 'Responsibility but not remuneration' – T.P.S.: 'Ah, yes, we have to do something about that.'
After T.P.S. had given background of last six months & his dealings with F.O.T.L. and N.Z.L.A. ('a hundred members' voted unanimously at the Conference) it was past 10 a.m. Obviously Caucus itself was meeting. Sir Ronald A. then made a neat & timely save & asked T.P.S. whether the meeting had in fact agreed – Every-one except Munro really did – some vocally – Mrs. T., Aderman – but Munro still went on about needing to see draft bill.
Upshot: T.P.S. (Sick & tired of the whole bloody thing) gone to Caucus determined to push through an agreement to the Bill going to Law Draughtsman – expect he will get it through, But – ?
G.T. Alley 3/687
Shand did get it through, and the draft bill was sent to the law draftsman for knocking into shape while the minister responsible got over his momentary irritation.
At this point, while the law draftsman is polishing and refining, it is timely to remember that normal life was continuing as usual. The vans of the Country Library Service were welcomed on their regular runs, the National Library Centre cleared requests for books and periodicals not held by readers' own libraries, students of the Library School studied, little aware of the unfolding drama, scholars found exciting evidence in the Turnbull Library's archives and manuscripts, and the staff of the General page 360Assembly Library produced material for members of Parliament without fear or favour.
In June 1965 Graham Bagnall published a progress report on the compilation of the retrospective (to 1960) New Zealand National Bibliography, for which the Government Printer had accepted responsibility for publication.88 As a record of the imaginative assiduity with which the task had been tackled, this article could well be a useful manual, and a warning, for others contemplating similar assignments. A few months later Alley published a review of the Australian Tauber report on Australian library resources – not only the summary report which was generally available, but also the huge three-volume accumulation of detail on which it was based.89 In emphasising the importance of factual reports of this kind in an environment in which, in educational planning, libraries were often 'fobbed off as apparently peripheral', he remarked, 'It was the presence of Andrew Osborn, completing his round of visits for his study of New Zealand library resources in 1959, which touched off on-the-spot discussions with members of the Parry committee and ensured that a reasonable discussion of academic libraries was included in the 1960 report on N.Z. Universities'. 'Australia,' he added, 'has again made a happy choice of a Fulbright library scholar … we recall the earlier visit to Australia, and for a short time to New Zealand, of Keyes Metcalf in 1958.'
For Alley the death, in September 1965, of Euphan's mother, Laura Jamieson, broke another link with the family's past, and with the important Shetland background of Euphan's part of it. And there were casualties among Geoff's professional associates. Joseph Norrie's death in June 1964 removed one of the few remaining members of the group of librarians who prepared the way for Alley's generation. As honorary secretary of the NZLA, he was one of those who, in 1937, took part in the discussions which led to Alley's appointment as officer in charge of the new Country Library Service, and in 1942 he was succeeded by Alley in the honorary secretaryship. But the death which had caused the greatest sorrow in the library world in this period was that of Mary Fleming, in August 1964. An obituary symposium published in New Zealand Libraries included contributions from Dorothy White, Clifford Collins, Stuart Perry, Enid Evans, and Alley,90 and the NZLA council established a prize which was named after her, to be awarded for work of outstanding merit in classification and cataloguing by a Library School student. Alley wrote of her, 'Mary Fleming's lasting and notable achievement was to use her talents and intellectual ability to the full, while exerting a strong influence on a whole generation of her colleagues in the profession by her character and personality.' Loved and admired by the whole library profession in New Zealand, she was also one of the few library associates who were close friends of the Alley family.page 361
As the law draftsman's labours progressed, New Zealand Truth (our answer to jesting Pilate) seems to have heard a rumour that something was afoot in the world of government libraries, because it warned that 'politicians could be severely bitten by an empire-building tactic now moving unobtrusively towards fruition … [and that] In addition, because of his increased responsibilities its director will no doubt achieve a pay rise – and later increased superannuation payments.'91 Another, better informed, portent came from Enid Evans, Librarian of the Auckland Institute and Museum, who wrote to Bagnall: 'In a phone conversation I had with John Cole a while back, he seemed happier.'92
The National Library Bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on 20 August 1965 by Arthur Kinsella, the minister of education, who was in charge of it because the decision had been made that the National Library, if the bill was passed, would be attached to the Department of Education.93 It was basically the draft that had been put together by the officials committee in 1964, amended in many details as a result of the discussions which had taken place since then; and, of course, by the law draftsman when engaged in his employment. It established, from 1 April 1966, a National Library, by amalgamating the three state libraries, to collect, preserve, and make available recorded knowledge, particularly that relating to New Zealand, to supplement and further the work of other libraries in New Zealand, and to enrich the cultural and economic life of New Zealand and its cultural interchanges with other nations. There were provisions to ensure the continuation of existing services and the protection of the special features of each of the merging libraries. There was also to be established a body to be known as the Trustees, with general advisory functions and a watching brief over the character of the services or the identity of the collections of the three libraries. The Trustees would consist of the heads of the three departments which contributed the component parts, two members of the House of Representatives elected by the library committee of the House, and six others appointed by the governor-general, one of whom would be appointed as chairman.
It quickly became obvious that opposition of a rather hostile kind was to be expected from some of the Labour members. J.G. Edwards (Napier), for instance, asked: 'Are research privileges in the General Assembly Library protected? Can the rights of members in general to have first call on research material in the General Assembly Library be protected, or could any members be denied the use of valuable material because someone outside this building had requested a book ahead of a member who wished to have it for the purposes of debate? Is the Chief Librarian of the General Assembly Library to be free from political control and from responsibility page 362to the Minister of Education or the National Librarian?' To these questions Kinsella replied, 'I hardly think that a responsible parliamentary librarian would ever give way to political pressure. To suggest that he would, would be a slur on his office', and he then outlined the safeguards which had been included in the bill. Shand also answered some points by referring back to discussions which had involved the library committee of the House. At the end of this debate the bill was read a second time pro forma and referred to the statutes revision committee, which met to hear submissions on 29 September (NZLA) and 20 October (the Friends of the Turnbull Library), and to deliberate on 21 October.
Once the legislative programme had been decided, both the major non-government bodies involved started to prepare their submissions for presentation to the statutes revision committee, and it was also necessary for Alley, who as national librarian would be required to provide information to his minister and to attend all official discussions, to be ready to produce documents quickly as they were needed. The NZLA distributed 2500 copies of its eight-page pamphlet, A National Library for New Zealand, to newspapers and a wide range of interested and influential people, and the Friends of the Turnbull Library also communicated with their extended family of friends, including D.J. Riddiford, MP, who was a member of the statutes revision committee.94
On 14 September Alley met the library committee of the House of Representatives, whose members, chaired by the Speaker, did not overlap with the membership of the statutes revision committee. The library committee asked, on the motion of Warren Freer, for two amendments to be made to the bill to emphasise its role with regard to the appointment of a chief librarian and the secondment of staff from the public service.95 These requests, which in due course were accepted by the statutes revision committee, would, as Alley reported to Kinsella, 'make more explicit in the legislation what has always been intended should be carried out administratively'.96
Alley also prepared for the minister a set of reference notes for him to use during discussions and debates.97 The first 11 pages of this document consisted of notes, arranged under the clauses of the bill, which were partly explanatory and partly designed to counter anticipated objections. For instance, in response to suggestions which had been made that books from the Turnbull collection would be lent to libraries and the collection would be weakened, Alley wrote (p. 8), 'This is ridiculous. The greatest care will be taken to see that no rare or irreplaceable item leaves the national library building in the ordinary way. The Minister on the advice of the Trustees will make the conditions for use. These will be properly formulated rules for this material for the first time.' In addition to these notes, the document page 363also included an 'Extended Summary of Reasons for Establishment of National Library' (pp. 12 and 13).
The statutes revision committee tackled the National Library Bill on 29 September, a Wednesday. Its current members, appointed by the House on 22 June 1965,98 included six National MPs (J.R. Hanan, R.E. Jack, Sir Leslie Munro, D.J. Riddiford, W.A. Sheat, and G.A. Walsh) and four Labour (J.G. Edwards, A.M. Finlay, Norman Kirk and Rex Mason). Sheat was the chairman. Edwards and Kirk were known to be hostile to the bill, Munro had not been happy about it, and Riddiford was close to the Friends of the Turnbull Library camp; but Mason, who had been minister of education in the 1940s, had confidence in Alley and was supportive. On the whole, it was a committee whose inclinations were hard to read.
The submission of the NZLA99 was taken first, presented by Jock McEldowney, now the association's president, who was supported by John Sage, Maida Clark, David Wylie, and Stuart Perry. Supported by the association's pamphlet, which was attached to it, the document dealt in some detail with the controversial matters concerning the Turnbull and General Assembly libraries, and it drew attention to areas in which an established National Library would be likely to promote future developments (such as a technical service for industry and commerce) and to the need for strongly-based leadership and direction in library planning. 'Perusal of the Bill has confirmed the Association,' it said, 'in its view that the Government's National Library proposals should be strongly supported.'
When the presentation had been completed, several of the committee's members, of whom Edwards was the most aggressive, launched a hostile attack on the integrity and motives of the NZLA by way of cross examination. It was a chastening experience which took the delegation by surprise. Alley wrote to McEldowney afterwards, 'You had a really horrible wicket to bat on, or if another sport is preferred – the boot was being put in, a bit unintentionally, but the effect was the same. Granted that a Statutes Rev Cttee should have the right to probe as and when it wishes, the cruel fact is that a Govt policy decision has been made over the years from S.G.H[olland]'s terms of reference to the '58 Select Cttee to the present Govt's election policy of Aug '63 to PM's announcement of 19 Mar '64 etc etc. And the Govt members should have known some of that, and put their questions in the light of such knowledge, i.e. how effective is the legislation in giving the policy a reasonable chance to succeed?'100
But Bagnall noted: 'W.J.McE. chief spokesman and did not apparently handle questions with his usual verve … GTA very despondent after it – Br B what would you say to the work of twelve years going for naught?'101 On the other hand, members of the Friends of the Turnbull Library who attended the hearing were not the least bit despondent. They reported that page 364'It was heartening and a great help to have been present … the N.Z.L.A. delegates had not reacted favourably to the penetrating examination given them by members of the Committee, who seemed not to want the amalgamation of the General Assembly and Turnbull Libraries with a National Library.'102
Since the committee had taken longer than expected to deal with the NZLA, it postponed the rest of its consideration of the National Library Bill, initially for a week but then until 20 October, which was getting perilously close to the end of the session. Meanwhile, a number of people wrote to the minister of education or to the statutes revision committee to offer their views. From the beginning of September there had been a steady stream of letters from well-known and respected people, such as Hamish Keith (art curator), Nancy Taylor (historian), Arnold Wall and A.W. Reed (publishers), R.E. Reynolds (bookseller) and Charles Brasch (Editor of Landfall),103 most of whom supported the concept of a national library but wanted the Turnbull Library excluded. There was, however, a relative lack of opposition from newspapers, which the authors of A National Library for New Zealand attributed to the effect of their own work: 'Many newspapers which had begun to sympathise with the opponents of the Bill began to support it, and only the Evening Post of Wellington opposed it throughout.'104
Some heavyweight support for the bill then began to appear. The council of the University of Canterbury resolved, on 29 September, to support it,105 and on the same day John Garrett, professor of English at Canterbury, sent a statement signed by all the university's professors who were present (i.e. not on leave, etc.) in which they said: 'In our opinion the Bill is a most enlightened proposal, and we believe that its adoption would be of immense benefit to scholars, members of parliament and the general public.'106 Ian Gordon, professor of English at Victoria University and a member of the University Grants Committee, wrote: 'There has been a great deal of rather sentimental propaganda in recent months from the Friends of the Turnbull Library in favour of the present set-up. I am a member of that body, but (like most serious research men) consider that a great national library building, with the Turnbull Library forming a semi-independent part of it, is in the best interests of the kind of student and scholar whose needs will be served by a national collection.'107 J.C. Beaglehole, whose standing as a scholar could not be questioned, said, 'It is just because I am a friend (if not a Friend) … of the Turnbull Library that I want to see it become part of the National Library.'108
At its meeting on 20 October 1965 the statutes revision committee received two documents from the Friends of the Turnbull Library109 and one from Alley, and it also heard reports from the library committee of page 365the House and from Jim Wilson, chief librarian of the General Assembly Library.
The Friends' main submission, dated 1 September 1965 and entitled 'Alexander Turnbull Library: a Plea for Continued Separate Identity', was basically a re-statement of the stand which the Friends had taken previously, with some unfriendly comments about the NZLA ('which has always been the mouthpiece of a few'). Its second submission, dated 20 October, broke some new ground in replying to points which had been made by the NZLA and others. Bagnall, who probably knew a lot more about the Turnbull Library than the authors of the documents, annotated both of them, in typically pungent style, for Alley's use during the discussions. For instance, commenting on a statement that 'The Department of Internal Affairs has provided enlightened and generous administration for nearly fifty years', Bagnall wrote, 'The [department] has provided by its own standards generous administration for sixteen years and particularly during the past twelve when the National Library proposal has posed an apparent threat to the Department's administration. A feature of this has been the steady transfer of Art Union [i.e. lottery] funds to a separate account when other libraries were being denied such funds. I am prepared to testify on oath that the administration of the Department during the first twenty years of its charge was the direct opposite of generous and that the relatively large number of items not in Turnbull but in Mitchell [in Sydney] reflect the restricted buying policy of that period.'
But the committee by this stage seems to have lost enthusiasm for the Turnbull cause. 'Glover,' noted Bagnall, 'applied a lot of histrionics but clearly hadn't read all his proposed amendments.' The committee was now approaching what its members saw as the heart of the matter, the inclusion of the General Assembly Library. Freer delivered the two resolutions by which the library committee of the House asked for amendments relating to the General Assembly Library. Wilson, the chief librarian, spoke strongly about the likelihood that staff would resign if the bill was passed. And Alley read his statement,110 in which, in order that the bill might be seen in perspective against its historical background from the earliest discussions in 1911, he set out in detail the events, recommendations, and decisions which had been made. In his peroration he said: 'What was desirable in 1911, necessary in 1938, had become urgent by 1955. In 1965 it is desperately needed if library development in New Zealand is to regain momentum.'
Quoting Bagnall again: 'GTA read his statement and then Sheat said, "It wouldn't be fair to ask Mr Alley questions." GTA: "Mr Chairman, I would love to be asked some questions," – and then it started – adjourned 5.30, resumed at 7.30, interrupted at 8.15 when P.M. asked for urgency on liquor amendment Bill.' At the deliberation stage, when the bill was page 366examined clause by clause, the main sticking points were those which concerned the General Assembly Library, but Hanan, according to Bagnall, was 'rock-like', and Mason 'magnificent', and these sections were carried, but only on Sheat's casting vote as chairman. The committee resolved, finally, to recommend that the bill be allowed to proceed with a number of amendments which it attached to its report. 'After the valedictories,' noted Bagnall, 'Tom Shand came, shook hands with Geoff, and said, "They tell me you haven't smiled for a week".'
The amendments recommended by the statutes revision committee were not the last to be made to the bill. Alley, who was conscious of the fact that Roy Jack, one of those who were concerned about the constitutional implications of the position of the chief librarian, General Assembly Library, was in line to become the next speaker, suggested that appointments to this post should be made by the State Services Commission but subject to the approval of the Speaker;111 and the codicil to Alexander Turnbull's will, which set out his wishes in leaving his collection to the nation, was included in a schedule to the bill.
The National Library Bill was at last committed on Saturday 30 October 1965. The debate, which takes up 24 pages of the Parliamentary Debates112 and which focused mainly on the question of the General Assembly Library, had its moments (at one point Shand was provoked into saying that 'if the little boy from Napier [Edwards] would keep his mouth shut occasionally his reputation would improve'), but very little new emerged. Freer, who must have had some trouble keeping track of his own changes of mind, moved that all references to the General Assembly Library be deleted from the bill. This motion was lost. The main problem was lack of time, and the tensions caused by this are vividly described in the following account which Bagnall wrote for his own file:
Final week. For each day of the week 26/10, there was an expectation that the Bill would be 'on' with the nagging fear that it would not be able to get through. GTA was worried but buoyed up by the Minister's assurance that the PM had said, 'I want this Bill to go through.' There was the overriding worry that the House had to end soon if the refitting for the Commonwealth Parl. Conference were to be done in time. This came to a head on Thursday night during the News Media Ownership Bill stonewall when at about 1 a.m. on Friday morning Neill Dollimore113 pointed out to a meeting in the Speaker's rooms of the PM, Nordy,114 the Govt whip etc that the session had to finish that weekend if the work were to be done. The PM asked for the co-operation of the Opposition but Nordmeyer said they would co-operate if the Govt. dropped the Library Bill! The P.M., however, would not agree.page 367
We were still hopeful that it would be taken on Friday morning – the PM had taken urgency on both bills – but Friday night it was to be – so the Minister and the Govt thought, but the News Media stonewall dragged on. GTA and I were back at the office at 7.30 (he had only been out for a walk – I went home at afternoon tea time) – then the deadly hours of waiting. At about 1 a.m. he went over to the House on a 'recce' and came back an hour later with the suggestion that perhaps we should go over. Bells were ringing he hopefully noted altho' in the Cttee stages they were then only at about clause 10. Walking towards the lobby we met the Speaker who kindly invited us into his room. He didn't think it would get on that night but got tea for us; Neill came in. Neill had located the Fortune–Oram–Wauchop papers about CRHT's 1954 attempted takeover. 115 Mr Speaker went to settle down for a nap leaving us in his room. The bells began ringing more frequently. GTA went out for a walk, and Arch Naylor put his head in the door and said we should come along after the next division as they were up to 16. However, shortly afterwards (4.10 a.m.) it was apparently decided that they would take it in the morning – right through. As we were walking back to NLS down the steps of the Bldgs the first light in the sky was showing up behind the Orongorongos and Geoff said, 'Mr Bagnall, this could be a dawn worth seeing'.116
The second reading debate, the committee stage and the third reading were completed on that Saturday,117 and the bill received the royal assent and became the National Library Act on 1 November 1965, to come into force on 1 April 1966, two years to the day since Alley became national librarian.
Congratulations came from many friendly quarters, but both Alley and Bagnall wrote to Stuart Perry before he could write to them. Alley said, 'It is hard to believe, now that only the blue is above, that we did get there. It has been a good effort, in which many helped; but yours was much more than that, it was a key part, and I and others are grateful.'118 Bagnall wrote: 'It was encouraging and gratifying to look across the House yesterday and see you there as one who has done so much in this struggle.'119 And to Jack Hunn, chairman of the committee which reported to the prime minister in 1956, Alley wrote: 'Your committee did a tremendous amount in clearing away irrelevancies and in cutting a path. Later committees have done not a great deal more than endorse your findings.'120
Writing to Enid Evans, Bagnall said: 'The point of time, 2.15 p.m. on Saturday 30 October, 1965, when the House approved the third reading was one of those very few moments, perhaps best described by Janet Adam Smith in recording her feelings on climbing the Matterhorn – but certainly which we count ourselves lucky to get once in a lifetime.'121 To page 368McEldowney, after describing the walk down the steps and the dawn over the Orongorongos, he set out five crucial elements in the final success:
1. The logic of the case and the fact that it had been canvassed NZLA and Committees wise for so many years. This may be obvious, it was essential, but it would never have got success. 2. GTA. 3. The weakness of the other state librarians. 4. The fact that in the end through a complex set of factors Govt. was convinced that it was the thing to do and that it should be done now. 5. The fact that the Speaker was behind it.'122
It had in fact been 'a damned serious business', as Wellington said of Waterloo, '… so nice a thing, so nearly run a thing'. When the officials committee had been set up, immediately after the first essential step of the appointment of a national librarian, its decision to concentrate on legislation in order to provide a framework was the correct one, but the operation had turned into something of a nightmare. Adrian Rodda said later that he had underestimated the strength of feeling in some quarters, and that, in retrospect, he thought that he and the committee should not have left the responsibility for making the running so much to Alley,123 but it is easy to be wise in retrospect. What is clear in retrospect is that it was the determination of Tom Shand, together with Alley's rock-like ability to withstand attacks and setbacks and the crucial support of Bagnall and Perry, that ensured final success. Alley himself could well have echoed Wellington in saying, 'By God! I don't think it would have done if I had not been there.'124
The irrepressible (perhaps even irresponsible) Denis Glover wrote: 'Dear Geoff, Well it was a good battle, the thing now is co-ordination. I remember once being beaten [in a rugby match] 70–3. The 3 was me going berserk. I hope I never cease to do so if I think I'm right. But some vestigial, atavistic instinct has always told me that the referee's decision is final. I do hope you will forgive me for what you may think is dirty work in the scrum. Doesn't matter. For what little say I have it amounts to backing you up with gusto and goodwill'.125 Alley would have understood Glover's thoughts very well, but one can wonder whether he was philosophical enough to appreciate them wholeheartedly. The campaign for a national library had been a bruising affair, and the Year of the Bill, in particular, had left a number of people with hurt feelings – especially those who had never been involved in bruising encounters before.
Perry, writing to W.B. Sutch four years after the passing of the act, said that he hoped that some dispassionate student would write the story of page 369this period up one day. 'It may be as well that the protagonists should not be there to read it! We became involved and opinionated and no one of us had all the facts. Production of a version of the story today might generate an epidemic of apoplexy among librarians.'126 It might still be too early for a dispassionate account to be produced, especially by an aged one-time protagonist, but a cool appraisal of the controversy over the inclusion of the Turnbull Library in the National Library by a younger writer, Rachel Barrowman, suggests ways in which the arguments of the fleeting moment can be considered in retrospect. 'To a large extent,' she has written in her history of the Turnbull Library, 'the argument over the National Library was fought between an old Turnbull community of booklovers and scholars, and a new one of researchers and academics, between those who held to a nostalgic image of the library as "the quiet sequestered retreat" of the scholar-bibliophile, and those who saw its future as part of a properly funded (and properly housed) national library, with the resources to sustain academic scholarship.' Her account of the dispute is fair and judicious.127
For Alley, a most pressing task in the remaining two years before he retired was to bring the various elements together, in conditions which for many reasons, including serious accommodation problems, could only be described as depressing, to start the process of creating the National Library of New Zealand.