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New Zealand Studies: A Guide to Bibliographic Resources

2. Printed matter: monographs

2. Printed matter: monographs

In New Zealand enumerative bibliography begins with B, for Bagnall. Graham Bagnall's life's work, and New Zealand's most significant bibliographical achievement, the New Zealand National Bibliography to the year 1960, will be completed in 1985 with the publication of Volume V, the indexes to the 1890-1960 period, plus addenda and corrigenda to the full sequence, 1663 to 1960. Volume I, to 1889, was issued in two parts with indexes in 1980. It includes only monographs, unlike Hocken's bibliography, its predecessor, which included articles from periodicals. The scope is wide: the national imprint, plus items relating to New Zealand published elsewhere. It includes Maori language items (but not to the depth of Williams) and a selection of early single leaf broadsides and public notices.

Volumes II to IV, 1890-1900, were published between 1969 and 1975. The bibliography is primarily a catalogue of printed books and pamphlets, with some significant omissions. Normally outside scope' are price lists, sales catalogues, advertising brochures; minor publicity material; primary and secondary school texts unless by authors of note; minor juvenile material and picture books; and a range of ephemeral materials. The compiler was well aware of the importance of the advertising, fugitive and ephemeral materials excluded and notes in his page 9 introduction to Volume I that 'A world of New Zealand publishing and printing history still awaits the enthusiastic delving of our successors' (p. vii). Early New Zealand commercial printing houses did little book work: their staples were newspaper and jobbing printing, and research in the early history of commercial printing will be heavily dependent on access to collections of jobbing printing.

A major 'outside scope' field, that of school texts, has already attracted its bibliographers. Ian McLaren, of Melbourne, published in 1984 Whitcombe's Story Books: a Trans-Tasman Survey, and Hugh Price, of Wellington, has circulated a checklist School Books Published in New Zealand to 1960. He reports some 1,351 titles, of which about 100 only are in Bagnall. The significance of Whitcombe & Tombs as New Zealand's first, and largest, book printing establishment, and the role that the standard textbooks had in a unified national system of primary and secondary education, will give these lists a prime place in scholarly research on New Zealand's printing history, education, and the formation by the schools of a national outlook on New Zealand and its place in the world.

Before leaving Bagnall's broad highway it is instructive to glance at the predecessors. The first listing of the literature relating to New Zealand was produced by A. S. Thomson in 1859 in his history of New Zealand. This was followed by separate listings in 1887 by C. R. Carter and by James Davidson Davis; by James Collier in 1889; T. M. Hocken in 1909, supplemented by Johnstone in 1927 and Chappie in 1938. All essayed, apart from Davis who entitled his modest effort Contributions Towards a Bibliography of New Zealand, at comprehensiveness. Can any other country match this? Some four attempts at a comprehensive national bibliography within 100 years? One might hypothesise, bearing in mind New Zealand's other not insignificant contributions to the art, some bibliographic virus, long dormant in the non-literate Maori period, infecting the unsuspecting European settlers: my mundane conclusion is that the most likely explanation can be found in the size of the corpus and its convenient concentration in a few institutions. The literature relating to New Zealand was perceived as manageable, and this was the lure to which the bibliographers rose.

For a comprehensive coverage of Maori language materials one looks beyond Bagnall to H. W. Williams's A Bibliography of Printed Maori to 1900 (1924) with its Supplement in 1928. Williams page 10 includes all works, however small, printed wholly in Maori or in Maori with a translation, including serial publications, in chronological order.

For currently published materials, both the national imprint and items about New Zealand or by authors normally resident in New Zealand and published overseas, one looks to the New Zealand National Bibliography published by the National Library of New Zealand. To May 1983 it was issued on paper; monthly lists and an annual cumulation in dictionary catalogue form. From June 1983 an awkward transistional publication on microfiche, part computer output, part manual, intervened. The printed bibliography was divided into three sections: I. Books, pamphlets, art prints, music, sound recordings, audio-visual material; II. Atlases, maps and charts; III. Serials (new and discontinued titles, including newspapers) together with a list of publishers and addresses. The microfiche bibliography is currently (until appropriate software is available) issued in two parts; a monthly cumulative computer-produced fiche containing books, pamphlets and serials, and issued in three sequences, a register, subject index and author/title index; and a monthly non-cumulating manually produced fiche, with an annual cumulation, divided into three parts; Art prints, music and sound recordings; Atlases, maps and charts; New Zealand publishers' addresses. Present thinking is to convert the manual records from 1981 into machine readable form and to publish a five year cumulation, 1981-85, on fiche. In due course it is proposed to work backwards from 1980 to 1961 to convert the post-Bagnall records into machine readable form and to make them available nationally on-line through the New Zealand Bibliographic Network (NZBN).

The Bagnall volumes (up to 1960) have assigned a unique number, commonly known as the Bagnall number, to each item; the machine readable records also have a unique number prefixed ZBN. In the foreseeable future, then, the published monograph literature relating to New Zealand' (or at least the mainstream of it) will be under near complete bibliographic control and with each item assigned a numerical unique identifier.

The last stop on the monograph trail is New Zealand Books in Print, published by three agencies in its brief and irregular history since 1957. From 1979 it has been issued annually by the Melbourne publisher D. W. Thorpe Pty. Ltd. Its importance for collection building should not be underestimated for a country page 11 of small editions, a proliferation of publishers, many of whom are outside the commercial publishing system, and an underdeveloped antiquarian/second-hand trade. Though bibliographical identification of New Zealand monographs is simple, institutions outside New Zealand suffer considerable difficulties in obtaining wanted items. Bibliographical identification, which is most of the struggle in older countries, is only the beginning in New Zealand.