J.C. Beaglehole Room (Special Materials) Collection SLCS: Context

This statement provides a framework for collection development and management activities within Victoria University of Wellington Library's Special Materials Collection.


Sue Hirst's picture
Sue Hirst
+64 4 463 9753

Level 4, Kelburn Library


To purpose of this statement is to provide a framework to guide the collection development, management and preservation activities for the J.C. Beaglehole Room (Special Materials) Collection.

This statement is developed in accordance with the principles outlined in the Library’s Collection Development and Management Policy (CDMP).


The Special Materials Collection makes accessible the Library’s unique and precious resources to current and future research. The Collection ranges across all subjects, including those of campus libraries, and across formats. The Collection resources are used by the entire range of research, teaching and administrative staff of the University, and outside researchers.

The Collection was last valued at c. $2 million dollars and the value of heritage collections will appreciate rather than depreciate.

The items held in the Special Materials Collection have been acquired in a variety of ways:

  • Some items and collections have resulted from donation, e.g. the fine printing examples from J.C. Beaglehole and specimen bindings from Pat Lawlor;
  • Some have been built in partnership with other University entities, for example the Literary Archives of Witi Ihimaera, Patricia Grace, Alistair Te Ariki Campbell, Jenny Bornholdt and the McDiarmid personal archive;
  • Some have been developed proactively by the Library with an eye to future research needs, for example the Brancepeth Station Library and the Bruce Mason literary archives;
  • Lately, some have also been relegated from Kelburn Library collections, for example, the first editions of Janet Frame fiction and last copies of Victoria published periodicals

Prior to 1975 such resources were kept wherever was considered the Library’s most secure location. Since 1975 they have been made accessible via the J.C. Beaglehole Room, which is managed by the Special Materials Librarian.

Focus of the collection

The Special Materials collections and infrastructure exist in order to support research and learning without damage to unique or precious resources. Special Materials are open for use by all scholarly researchers. In practice, most serious users are post-graduate students, academic staff or visiting scholars. However, as Special Materials also includes last resort copies of Victoria Staff Publications, Victoria Periodicals, and the output of Victoria University Press and other University entities, resources may on occasion attract heavy undergraduate use, especially if featured on a course reading list.