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Book & Print in New Zealand : A Guide to Print Culture in Aotearoa

Māori and the library service

Māori and the library service

Professional discussion and action on the issue of service to Māori falls into two periods: an earlier time when Māori were regarded as one user group amongst a number of user groups, where low rates of library use indicated that there was a need for development; and the latter period, during which the concepts of bicultural development and bicultural provision of service have been given prominence.

The report of the professional association's Māori Library Service Committee in 1963 represents typical views of the earlier period: NZLA (1963). Examples of the work being done in that period to make libraries more attractive to non-European users (amongst whom Māori were classified) are described in Ridling (1958), Ridling and Hills (1968), Cauchi (1972), and Murphy (1979, 1981).

The development of the bicultural concept is traced in a bibliography by Barbara Blake (1990). The basic reference for an understanding of where Māori stand in relation to libraries are two reports on the Te Ara Tika research project: Tui MacDonald (1993) and Szekeley (1991). Two radical views of the issue are provided by Calvert (1992) and Higgins (1992) who expressed doubt about the appropriateness of libraries as a medium to service the information needs of Māori and of Pacific Islands people in general. More positive views are taken by other non-Māori librarians: Carroll (1990) and Pharo (1992). Māori perspectives on existing services and organisations are described by McRae (1990, 1992) and Szekeley (1992).

Interesting demonstrations of biculturalism practised in specific fields are set out by Alastair Smith (1996) for electronic information; Robert Sullivan (1995) for collection management; and Lyn Williams (1991) for reference service.