When reading Saturdays Dominion Post I came across a two page spread about the National Library. I am always happy to see large pieces on the National Library, or libraries full stop, in the media, especially when it is positive coverage! After reading I wondered if someone in the top floor had been reading the libraries copies of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.
It seems that the makeover mark II is about to be released to the world and that the doyens have learnt from the disastrous media fracas last time, and have gone on a pre-emptive strike. They have even gone so far as to finally come out in public, with what has been privately known for a long time. The building leaks.
When the previous redevelopment was launched earlier this year I was critical of the execution, but not of the philosophy. I was more disappointed in some of the criticism, especially at that delivered by former Alexander Turnbull Chief Librarian Jim Traue. I note sadly that his latest comment is to suggest that the current senior management are overemphasising the leaks to gain more credence to a redevelopment that will make the library more like Te Papa.
For myself, I hope when the new plans are revealed, they will still encompass philosophies that will create a more open library: A library that is tailored for sharing the collections with more of New Zealand. I also hope that the facade is an improvement of what is currently there and what was proposed.
It will certainly be interesting to see the responses to this article and to the revised redevelopment, though I expect some will believe that they are cursed with that ancient curse, ”May you live in interesting Times”. Or was that a blessing?