A History Of The University Of Auckland Fine Arts Library (1950-2010)

Author: 
Victoria Passau
Publication date: 
Mon, 2013-02-25

by Victoria Passau, Client Services Librarian at the Fine Arts Library | Te Herenga Toi, The University of Auckland Library, New Zealand.

Abstract
In 1950 the Elam School of Fine Arts amalgamated with Auckland University College bringing with it a small collection of art books. From these humble beginnings, the Fine Arts Library has evolved into the well-funded and reputable specialist art library that exists today. Throughout its history, the Fine Arts Library has supported both the Elam School of Fine Arts and The University of Auckland Art History Department. In later years it was integrated into and supported by the wider University of Auckland Library system. Drawing on primary sources such as institutional records and the oral histories of selected former and current library staff, this article identifies and analyses how a web of interconnected relationships has influenced the development, maintenance, and future of a specialised art library. Despite facing accommodation, staffing and funding challenges over the last 60 years, The University of Auckland Fine Arts Library has succeeded in the establishment of a comprehensive and nationally respected art library.

Introduction
The Elam School of Art and Design was established in central Auckland in 1889 following the bequest of Dr John Edward Elam, a patron of the arts who bequeathed £10,000 towards the establishment of a free art school for Auckland ("The New Zealand Herald and Daily Southern Cross," 1890). The following 60 years saw the School provide full-time and part-time manual art instruction to both children and adults. The concept of amalgamation into Auckland University College had been discussed on a number of occasions during the 1930s and 1940s. However, the fire of 1949 was the major impetus for the Elam School of Fine Arts to finally become a part of the College. The fire destroyed its art books, artworks and a large proportion of the School’s administrative documents making it difficult to reconstruct a complete picture of the library in the pre-1950 period.

2010 marked the 60th anniversary of the amalgamation of the Elam School of Fine Arts into Auckland University College. Such a significant event provided the catalyst to initiate research into the evolution of the Fine Arts Library. As far as it is known, this is the first historical study of the Fine Arts Library to be based on contemporary and historical records. Therefore, it will be of interest to historians of information and library science, special librarians and the wider artistic and art historical community. 

This article provides an historical overview of the relationships forged between the Fine Arts Library and its major stakeholders — Elam School of Fine Arts, the Department of Art History and The University of Auckland’s General Library. It utilises an historical case study as its core methodology (Gorman, 2005; Shep, 2005). This article also employs elements of social and cultural history to understand the relationship between the Fine Arts Library and a number of institutional partners (Danto, 2008). This methodology allows the researcher to read between the lines of historical narratives and unravel the truths held within a range of primary and secondary sources (Pickard, 2007). 

Based on both archival resources and the completion of four semi-structured oral history interviews, the research was also supported by three written responses. The oral history participants were chosen for their in-depth understanding of how the Fine Arts Library had developed from either a practical perspective or a strategic viewpoint. The sample group interviewed represent a range of experiences and roles and their period of employment covered a significant proportion of the Fine Arts Library’s history. The administrative documentation which made up the “official” account of the Fine Arts Library was complemented by the counter narrative of the Library’s former and current staff.

This article identifies shifts in curricular focus and changes in the organisational structure of the Elam School of Fine Arts and the Department of Art History and assesses the resultant effects on the Fine Arts Library’s services and collections. Factors such as funding, staffing, accommodation and technology are explored and related to the development of the Fine Arts Library and its unique culture. The Fine Arts Library’s evolving institutional relationship with The University of Auckland Library system is also outlined.

Elam School of Fine Arts joins Auckland University College (1950-1961)
On the 15th January 1949 a fire destroyed the Elam School of Fine Arts and its Library and a year later Elam School of Fine Arts  became a “special school” under the jurisdiction of the Auckland University College Council  (Auckland University College, 1947; Education Department & McMurtrie, 1948; Franks, 1984; "Heavy loss in fire," 1949; Sinclair, 1983). This integration significantly changed the roll and demographic of the Elam School of Fine Arts (Fisher, 1955). The School’s new academic status required the reassessment of its curriculum especially in regards to art theory. Rex Fairburn became the first lecturer in the history and theory of art in 1951, the only one of its kind in New Zealand (Fairburn, 1955). The School’s shift into a more academic world opened up a range of opportunities, including the development of an academic art library.

During this period former students and staff described the Elam School of Fine Arts teaching style as rigid, hierarchical and conservative with the curriculum focusing on draughtsmanship, modelling and design (Auckland Society of Arts & Fine Arts Committee, 1949; Ellis & Tapper, c.1983; Fairburn, 1944-1945, 1945; Saunders, 1983). In the 1950s the Elam School of Fine Arts lack of vision, due in part to the approach taken by its Head, A.J.C. Fisher, restricted it from developing into a reputable, modern and innovative organisation (Franks, 1984).

During the 1950s the Elam School of Fine Arts was housed at two sites - prefabricated buildings on the School’s former site in Symonds Street and in the grounds of the former Newton West School in Grey Lynn, where the Library also identified at the Reading Room was situated. Elam School of Fine Arts poor infrastructure and working conditions were widely discussed (Vaassen, 1962; W.R., 1958). The School’s situation was best expressed by Fisher:

In general, I consider that the poor position in which we have found ourselves, since the fire of 1949, in regards to buildings and equipment has acted as a severe discouragement to those contemplating enrolment, and have inevitably lowered the morale of the School (Fisher, 1955, p. 2).

The Library: The Lawless Years (1950-1961)
Internationally, the development of professionally administered art libraries began in the early 1960s (D. L. Smith & Baxter, 1965). A number of art library profiles and histories include references to library collections prior to this decade, however, they largely describe them as small collections run by non-professional librarians (Aulton, 1970; Leja, 2006; Valmestad, 2006; Willmot, 1970).

In 1950 the Fine Arts Library was identified as a Departmental Library and was situated at the Newton West site (Tamaki Planning Committee, 1951). The School decided the funding allocated to the Library each year. The items would then be purchased, catalogued and processed by the “Main” Library (Sandall, 1950a, 1950b). By 1952, University Librarian, Arthur Sandall, described the new Departmental Library as “still feeling their way to some extent and I suggest need to gather momentum in selection and acquisition of books and reproductions” (Auckland University College, 1952, p. 2).

The Fine Arts Library covered 624 square feet (Education Department & Elam School of Fine Arts, c.1949). Images from the 1958 and 1962 prospectuses convey the limitations of the space, with the lack of free standing shelves restricting the number of books the reading room could accommodate (Figures 1 and 2).

Elam Library circa 1958

Figure 1: View of the library at the Elam School of Fine Arts, Newton West in 1958. Elam School of Fine Arts and Design prospectus.  Photographer unidentified, ©The University of Auckland.

Elam Library circa 1962

Figure 2: View of the library at the Elam School of Fine Arts, Newton West in 1962. Elam School of Fine Arts and Design prospectus. Photographer unidentified,  ©The University of Auckland.

Between 1951 and 1961 the Library was principally administered by the secretarial office staff (Sandall, 1950b). An Elam lecturer, Robert Ellis described the collection of art books at Newton West during his earlier years at the School (from 1957 until Archie Fisher's death in 1959); “the art library consisted... [of]…one locked cupboard and in that cupboard were about 40 or 50 books, those 40 or 50 books nothing later than about 1850” (Ellis & Tapper, c.1983). This statement underestimated the number of books held by the Library, as shown by the acquisition records (Complete orders 1951-1960). However, during this time, the Library collection would not have exceeded fifteen hundred books, periodicals and visual resources (Beadle, 1962; Simpson, 1961). Acquisition records show a traditional and conservative collection of art books on ancient and renaissance art, drawing and modelling and monographs on artists such as Augustus John, a favourite of Fisher (Ellis & Tapper, c.1983).

The Auckland University College’s student population had increased dramatically throughout the previous three decades and the Library system was not provided with financial and infrastructural support to keep pace (Sinclair, 1983). This was consistent with the situation throughout New Zealand where no library could have been described as holding a complete and self-contained collection (Sandall, 1952). During this time the cost of books continually outstripped the Library’s allotted funds.

In 1956 Sandall travelled to America and visited a number of academic libraries. He discovered that Auckland’s situation was comparable to a medium sized American university, in student numbers and subjects taught. “We differ on the whole, however, in having fewer books, fewer teaching staff, poorer equipment and less money” (1956, p. 1). He also noted that other than very large institutions, the majority of American university libraries were based on a centralised system. The Auckland University College Library system comprised a number of satellite, subject-oriented collections which had developed on an ad hoc basis (Walsh, 1969). Sandall believed that these departmental collections should be supervised by trained staff who were part of the wider Library organisation (Johnson, 1988).

In 1958 the Army, on whose land the Newton West site was situated, requested its return. Funding for a new Fine Arts school building was approved by the University Grants Committee in the late 1950s and tenders were invited in August 1960 ("£145,000 arts school," 1960; "New School of Fine Arts," 1960; "Tenders for art school," 1960; "Tenders: New School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland," 1960).  The new School was designed when the Library was still a Departmental Collection and the brief reflected this. Sandall was consulted and drew on his experience and knowledge gained from visiting American University libraries (Ellis, 1963). In the main Sandall’s recommendations were incorporated in the design and size of the new Library, but little effort was made to investigate the design of other specialists libraries.

The Elam School of Fine Arts was the first project in the University’s £26 million building programme, with the new site on reserve land below Symonds Street. The project was funded by the University Grants Committee in Wellington and the design and building was directed by the Works Department, also Wellington based. The architects, Messrs Massey, Beatson, Rix-Trott, Carter and Co. won the tender.

Publicly and within the architectural profession the building of the School was identified as one of the most important building projects in New Zealand during the early 1960s ("Big city buildings near completion," 1962; "Elam School of Fine Arts," 1963).  It was unfortunate that by the time Beadle was appointed the designs for the Whitaker Place site were near completion. Beadle had not been able to stamp his mark and asserted that “[t]he whole conception seems to lean heavily on what could be called an almost standard institutional style, adopted without thought for the nature or character of a school of art” (1963, p. 6). A collective vision of what the School desired, and needed the buildings to be, could have created a more useful and functional end product. 1961 saw the first named reference to a library assistant at Elam School of Fine Arts. 1961 also heralded the establishment of a Chair of Fine Arts which gave the School faculty status. Professor Paul Beadle who was appointed in this position quickly identified the need for a trained librarian and advocated for the creation of this position.

Up until his death in 1959, Fisher, enforced a structured curriculum that did not promote artistic freedom or self expression (Sinclair, 1983; Twiss, c.1983). Despite achieving his goal of gaining tertiary status for the School, Fisher failed to be a creative champion and was content to continue the technical school trajectory of the previous 50 years (Franks, 1984).

Throughout this time the School in effect “owned” the Library with the dominating and traditional ideas of Fisher being reflected in the collection. By the end of the decade this resulted in a stagnant curriculum, a very limited collection of art books and an ill-conceived building project. The Elam School of Fine Arts new faculty status and the appointment of Beadle heralded the beginning of a new era (Franks, 1984).

Building the Fine Arts Library: The Place and the People (1962-1976)
1962 was an important year for both the Fine Arts Library and The University as a whole. The Colleges of the University of New Zealand became autonomous entities (Sinclair, 1983) and the Fine Arts Library moved into its new premises in December with its full-time and trained Assistant-in-Charge, Mrs Desma Butler (née Russell) (Beadle, 1962; Johnson, 1988; The University of Auckland Library, 1961, 1962a, 1962b). The main floor of the Fine Arts Library housed the monographs, reading desks and filing cabinets and totalled 856.8 square feet, while the mezzanine floor totalled 274 square feet. Interestingly a 1968 building report suggests that “the Library is perhaps the most successful interior space; sun, well considered light and working areas” (Cochran, 1968, p. 25).

In this same year cataloguing and acquisitions were reassigned to the Fine Arts Library and its total budget increased from £666 in 1961 to £1179 (The University of Auckland Library, 1961, 1962a). It also saw the creation of a stronger relationship between the divisional libraries (Fine Arts Library Sub-Committee, 1962).

The appointment of a professional interim Librarian (Butler) in 1962 meant the Library was no longer staffed by members of the Elam School of Fine Arts office. However, the arrival of Gordon H. Brown, the Library’s first permanent Assistant-in-Charge in early 1964 significantly shifted the relationship the Elam School of Fine Arts had with the Fine Arts Library. As Brown suggested 20 years later this administrative separation provided a certain amount of freedom, “you were divorced up to a point from the politics of the art school...” (G. H. Brown, 1983). This appointment coincided with the increased number and increasing significance of art libraries on the international stage (Pacey, 1980; D. L. Smith & Baxter, 1965).

Brown was employed for 17 months,  in a sole-charge position and not surprisingly he found this extremely challenging (G. H. Brown, 1965).  The three most significant issues Brown encountered were the Library’s spatial constraints; the quality of cataloguing and the insufficient staffing levels (G. H. Brown, 1965). As a result in 1965 the Library had to reduce its hours from 31 to 17 hours weekly. This was despite the fact that the Bachelor of Arts course and the Diploma of Fine Arts increased enrolments by 62% and 30% respectively (Beadle, 1965).

Issues between the Library and fledgling Department of Art History also added to the challenge. The Americans, Kurt von Meier and Arthur Lawrence were appointed Lecturers in the History and Theory of Fine Arts in 1962 and 1963, respectively (Lawrence, 1965). Their appointments were in response to the History and Theory of Fine Arts being included as a Bachelor of Arts unit within the Faculty of Arts in 1963 (Craccum Reporter, 1963; The University of Auckland Library, 1963). Brown remembered that due to “ambiguous” wording in his job description, von Meier, believed he was responsible for ordering the Library’s books, when in reality he had only been asked to recommend items for purchase (G. H. Brown, 1983). Not only did von Meier order books without the Library’s permission, he selected books with no relevance to the fine arts or art theory. This meant that Brown was forced to return each item that von Meier suggested, adding to his already significant workload.

During the 1960s the shortage of trained librarians was a significant issue for all New Zealand libraries (Barrowman, 1995; The University of Auckland Library, 1961). So when Brown submitted his resignation in June 1965, Valerie Lockwood (who will be referred to by her married name Richards), a trained Library Assistant at the Architecture Library, was the prime candidate. Richards held a New Zealand Library Association (NZLA) Certificate (Cumming, 1968). Richards recently recalled that she was in effect “given” the position of Librarian-in-charge by Sandall (V. Richards, personal communication, April 8, 2011).

Elam Library circa 1969

Figure 3: Richards (left) and students in the Fine Arts Library in 1969. View from the mezzanine stairs. Photographer unidentified. The University of Auckland Library Special Collections, © The University of Auckland.

Richards continued to face similar issues to that of Brown especially in regards to space (Figure 3). As the average number of books and serials purchased in the 1960s and early 1970s amounted to almost 800 items per year the Library was deemed at capacity by the end of 1969.

However, a lack of space and equipment was not the Library’s only concern. While the Northern Hemisphere Art Libraries of the 1960s experienced an “immense output of books, exhibition catalogues, manifestoes, posters...slides, and similar material” (Davis, 1969, p. 9), their Australasian counterparts discovered that distance from major markets and a lack of funding restricted access to these resources (Richards, 1986).

During this period the Fine Arts Library was also constrained by the lack of substantial New Zealand art related publications in book or catalogue format. There were some exceptions including the seminal publication by Brown (1969). A standing order had been created for all catalogues published by New Zealand’s major public art galleries and libraries (Elam School of Fine Arts, 1966). However, these publications were written by and created for institutions whose generally conservative and traditional exhibition programmes focused on American and Eurocentric artists and themes. In response to this situation the Library established a collection of New Zealand art ephemera. This included exhibition posters, invitations, and exhibition catalogues which were largely un-catalogued (Richards, 1981). This collection provided a valuable resource for students and staff interested in New Zealand related art theory and practice (Coleman, 1973; University of Auckland, 1974). The paucity of New Zealand’s art resources also made it necessary for the Library to manage and produce a press cutting index (Fine Arts Library & Richards, 1965). New Zealand art journals were also indexed and filed separately. In 1970 the Fine Arts Library was described by Richards “as the most comprehensive of its subject in New Zealand” (Richards, 1970).

The Fine Arts Library also purchased a number of international bibliographic resources (Fine Arts Library, 1976). These were valuable resources when identifying international trends. However, they may have prejudiced the user into believing that New Zealand art practice was invisible or undervalued. This lack of information in regard to the New Zealand “art scene” was another one of the motivating factors behind the creation of the Fine Arts Library’s unique reference collections.

First instituted in 1950 the budget for The University of Auckland and all New Zealand Universities were provided in set allotments (New Zealand. Committee on New Zealand Universities & Parry, 1960; Sinclair, 1983; The University of Auckland Library, 1970). Staff had to provide budgets for a five year period which created significant financial strain. From the 1960s and into the mid-1970s the Fine Arts Library collection development and cataloguing would be best described as being based on constraint and compromise (V. Richards, personal communication, April 8, 2011).  The Library’s purchases were restricted to curricular specific items and as in many art libraries at  the time financial constraints did not “provide for exploration beyond the confines of the syllabus” (Pacey, 1980, p. 13).

The creation of a separate Department of Art History within the Faculty of Arts in 1967 meant that the Fine Arts Library now officially serviced both the Elam School of Fine Arts  and the Department of Art History and was the only tertiary library to do so in New Zealand (Richards, 1983). In this same year the Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree was introduced resulting in “a greater emphasis on academic study” (Franks, 1984, p. 56).

Peter Durey, appointed as the University Librarian in 1970, brought a fresh approach to the Library. He wanted to ensure that the Library was viewed as “an integral part of the intellectual life of the institution” (Johnson, 1988, p. 15). Richards commented that Durey was very supportive in getting the Fine Arts Librarian elected onto the Faculty of Fine Arts (V. Richards, personal communication, April 8, 2011).

The relationship between the Elam School of Fine Arts and the Department of Art History was also cemented through other lines of communication with the Head of Department consulted in regards to the yearly submission for the Library budget. The Fine Arts Library Committee also provided an opportunity for the Elam School of Fine Arts and the Department of Art History to assess and comment on the progress and direction of the Library’s collection (Ellis, 1969). However, in terms of providing suggestions for purchase Richards “was not so sure that the art historians were 100% helpful in that direction...maybe they had confidence that I’d turn up with things that... they’d want for their course work or were of interest to them”(V. Richards, personal communication, April 8, 2011).This attitude, which was also arguably held by the Elam School of Fine Arts staff, supports the theory that libraries are perceived as holding the “buyer” function (Schonfeld & Housewright, 2010). “Even though academic departments are supposed to be responsible for making their own recommendations for the library, we rely on librarians to show us what’s out there” (Jenkins, 2005, p. 115).

Throughout the history of the Fine Arts Library there has been a tendency for the Library to view itself as an independent outpost. Johnson argued that by 1979 “the individual destinies of the Divisional Libraries” ran in parallel to the General Library (Johnson, 1988). The “can-do attitude” and autonomous approach to managing the library was created out of necessity and is not unlike experiences of other organisations (Varley, 1977). The Art Library Society went so far as to argue that a “properly functioning art library must have a degree of administrative autonomy” from both the department they service and the main library (1974, p. 8). When asked whether she encountered any problems introducing project proposals, Richards replied, “I found it best to do things and ask afterwards, well never ask actually. If people noticed I’ll say “Ohh, yes”...You’ll find that the Special School Librarians were a bit of a rule unto themselves” (V. Richards, personal communication, April 8, 2011). This response was not unusual within the special libraries community (G. Smith, 1975). The Library, while situated within the environs of the Elam School of Fine Arts, maintained its own identity and did not align itself to Elam’s self-defined culture as a rebellious outsider in an inflexible tertiary environment (Macpherson, 1999a, 1999b).

The early to mid-1970s saw a natural increase in Library use, creating a need for additional staff. However, the creation of these positions was constantly postponed due to financial and accommodation factors. “In the meantime accommodation has become acute and shows signs of less use than would be expected of 600 borrowers in a more spacious area” (Richards, 1972, p. 3).

The restricted space had a significant effect on book issues and student access, reflected in the low Library use by undergraduate Art History students (Fine Arts Library, 1975, 1976; Richards, 1976). In these years Library staff resorted to requesting students to take home “barrow loads of books” over the summer period to ease the accommodation issues (Fine Arts Librarian, 1976, 1979; Richards, 1975). By 1975 the Library consisted of approximately 16,000 books, 3200 serials, 30 study desks and three staff.

In the early 1970s a request for an extension to the library was submitted to the University of Auckland Building Committee (The University of Auckland Library, 1972, 1974). The need for a larger library space was due to the natural growth of the collection and the “rapid” growth in the Department of Art History (Durey, 1976a). The extension again designed by Beatson, Rix-Trott, Carter & Co. in 1972, covered 5,600 square feet and cost a total of $148,000 (Beatson Rix-Trott Carter & Co., 1972; Fine Arts Librarian, 1977). The Library administration acknowledged the Fine Arts Library’s physical restrictions at this time, however it was not until 1975 that the building contract was signed (Durey, 1970; The University of Auckland Library, 1975).

Extending the Fine Arts Library (1977-1990)

Elam Library circa 1976

Figure 4: The Fine Arts Library Extension in 1976. Photograph by Anton Estie. Centre for Academic Development, © The University of Auckland.

In the final semester of 1976 the collection was moved into the new Library (Figure 4) (Durey, 1976b). The extension, officially opened by the Vice Chancellor Dr. C.J. Maiden in February 1977, was a vast improvement on the previous accommodation (Durey, 1976b, 1977; Elam School of Fine Arts, 1976). 

Elam Library extension 1976
Figure 5: Fine Arts Library extension 1976 view from the rear of the Library. Photograph by Anton Estie. Centre for Academic Development, ©The University of Auckland.

The Library’s overall design afforded flexibility for current layout and space for future growth (Figure 5). The design provided for individual and group study spaces and the mezzanine to house the special collections (Cummings, 1980; Henri, 2003; Langmead & Beckman, 1970). The new Library enabled staff and students to continue to exhibit their works and was a more conducive space in which to carry out critical and informal discussion, central to scholarly communication (Rusbridge, 1998). This helped to maintain the relationship between the Library staff and their users and the larger space provided the opportunity to create a more social and welcoming atmosphere.

During the 1980s the Library continued to have a strong relationship with the Elam School of Fine Arts staff and students. Dodd confirmed that:
the Library was really pivotal to the “Elam” experience. The students used the Library...extensively and...it probably wasn’t quite so much with Art History but I think...[that Library staff had] so much more...daily contact than you would get nowadays...there was a real solid connection (J. Dodd, personal communication, April 4, 2011).

Automation
Automation, or the computerisation of the library catalogue and services, was the means by which unwieldy academic library collections became more accessible to core users (Thompson, 1982, 1983). In the international context automation was initiated during the late 1960s in North America, the early 1970s in Britain and the early 1980s in Australia (Hunter, 2006; Peake, 1981). In contrast, The University of Auckland Library has been described as “a latecomer to library automation” (Wainwright & Trask, 1993, p. 22). The University of Auckland acquired its first multi-user microcomputer in 1984 and joined the New Zealand Bibliographic Network (NZBN) a year later (Nuttall, 1984; The University of Auckland Library, 1986). This New Zealand wide network enabled the participants to pool knowledge, technical expertise and data (Heath, 2006; Wilson, 1984). In 1989 The University of Auckland Library purchased the Northwestern Online Total Integrated System better known as NOTIS (Beverley, 1989). This software enabled the Library to create an online catalogue, AUCat, which was made publicly accessible through the University’s Ethernet in 1990 (The University of Auckland Library, 1991).

Durey, envisioned that the introduction of the NZBN and the onset of automation would allow the divisional libraries to become more “interdependent” (Durey, 1984). However, access to the network only affected the libraries serviced by the General Library Cataloguing Department. The Fine Arts Library, which catalogued its own items, was therefore not included in the computer network until 1991.

Delays in automation were most likely a consequence of the dispersed nature of the organisation, as the arrangement of the General Library is unusual compared with other New Zealand tertiary libraries.

Changing with the Times (1990-2010)
At Richards’ retirement in 1990 the Fine Arts Library had developed over 25 years from a collection of 2,600 books, 400 periodicals and 2,200 prints in a space of 1,200 sq feet to a collection of 30,000 books in a space of 5,600 sq feet (Beadle, 1965; Richards, 1990). Richards’ departure was an end of an era. Gail Keefe, appointed as her replacement, ushered in the new era of technology. However, as succession planning was limited, the Library faced a brief but challenging period of transition. Keefe quickly found her feet supported by Jane Dodd, in an interim position, and Lynley Stone as Deputy Fine Arts Librarian (1990-1994).

In 1991 the retrospective cataloguing commenced. Nicole Jackson, Library Assistant during this time, remembered Stone’s direction of the project, “[she] managed this task brilliantly, drawing on the skills of individuals; her warmth, enthusiasm and appreciation of each person’s contribution ensured that a massive project was accomplished with tremendous efficiency” (N. Jackson, personal communication, March 18, 2011). In 1991 the  Fine Arts Library was linked to NOTIS but not the NZBN (The University of Auckland Library, 1992). Therefore, Library staff had to walk over to the General Library Cataloguing Department to use one of their two cataloguing logins, with each search taking two or three minutes to process (L. Stone, personal communication, March 15, 2011).

Black has argued that instead of being passive onlookers librarians have “embraced the informization of their practice” (2004, p. 30). This is true of the Fine Arts Library with the introduction of computers and the Library’s first online catalogue AUCat, seen as were exciting yet challenging milestones for the Fine Arts Library (The University of Auckland Library, 1992). The new command-driven catalogue improved the way the Library’s collection could be searched but provided challenges as described by Stone:

Keyword was the killer...When we automated we had to teach the people how to use the OPAC... and that transformed everything...nobody was used to using computers, they didn’t understand the command language and it was even worse than trying to teach them the card catalogue (L. Stone, personal communication, March 15, 2011).

Automation of the Fine Arts Library catalogue was completed in 1995 with the Library becoming fully computerised for lending and an electronic link to the NZBN was finally established (The University of Auckland Library, 1996). During this early period of automation the teaching faculties of Universities around the world acknowledged that they could not keep pace with the changing technological environment (Jenkins, 2005). At the Fine Arts Library the same applied with the Library taking the lead in training students and staff in the new technologies.
During the early 1990s the Library shifted from “being a silo where everything was manual to being an integrated part of the University Library system”. However, “within the culture of the organisation...it was actually…very stable” (J. Dodd, personal communication, April 4, 2011). The period saw the Library develop a more flat and egalitarian structure, still apparent today (J. Wild, personal communication, March 28, 2011).

Several Library staff had strong informal relationships with individuals around the University, especially in the General Library. While these personal relationships helped to provide connections to the wider organisation, some staff felt less involved in the wider Library community (J. Dodd, personal communication, April 4, 2011). As Stone went on to suggest it was “like a frontier society” (personal communication, March 15, 2011).

A review of The University of Auckland Library undertaken in 1993, emphasised the need to determine the level of funding provided by The University to the Library (Wainwright & Trask, 1993). Other issues included a lack of planning and physical infrastructure to support Library automation and the need for increased organisational cohesion.

From the 1930s until this time The University of Auckland Library was administered through a centralised organisational structure, with managers of the individual branch libraries reporting directly to the University Librarian (Johnson, 1988; Rowan, 1999; Wainwright & Trask, 1993). This created a strong relationship between the University Librarian and the heads of departments or divisional libraries (V. Richards, personal communication, April 8, 2011; L. Stone, personal communication, March 15, 2011). However, this hierarchical arrangement also resulted in a fragmented organisation, with each branch Library in effect a silo within the Library system.

The 1993 review recommended the introduction of Associate Librarians, responsible for managing different areas of The University of Auckland Library. It also recommended that the City Campus “be based on broad subject-based organisational groups” (Wainwright & Trask, p. 75). This reflected the trend towards merging and “clustering” libraries, prevalent during the late 1980s and early 1990s (Crockett, 2000).

The appointment of Janet Copsey as the University Librarian in 1998, provided the impetus to reassess The University of Auckland Library system (The University of Auckland Library, 1999). An operational review of the Fine Arts Library was completed alongside the Engineering and Architecture Libraries. This resulted in the restructuring of the three libraries, under the banner of the Engineering, Architecture and Fine Arts Group. This new geographical association, alternatively known as the Symonds Street Group, was to be managed by a divisional librarian, with Jane Wild being appointed in August 1999.

For nearly 40 years the Fine Arts Library had developed a culture of autonomy and individuality. The restructuring of the Library came as a shock (The University of Auckland Library, 1999). The grouping of the Library with two other divisional libraries and the introduction of a Divisional Library Manager was seen as a challenge to the autonomy of the Fine Arts Library. In the initial period Wild was faced with implementing changes which were not wholeheartedly supported. This reflects the independent mentality common to divisional libraries (Bottorff, Glaser, Todd, & Alderman, 2008; Crockett, 2000; Jurkowski, 1997). After some adjustment, staff saw the restructure as a positive change, enabling the streamlining of tasks and the provision of consistency across the Library system. Staff could now focus on creating and maintaining value added services and products which focused on the needs of the Library’s core users, an example being the digitisation of the Department of Art History’s slide collection (Frank, 1999). The Art History Images Database (AHID) was a project championed by the Head of the Department of Art History, Elizabeth Rankin, and realised by the Fine Arts Library and The University of Auckland Library’s Digital Services (The University of Auckland Library, 2001, 2002). The creation of this electronic resource is consistent with other art research Libraries and reflects the changing needs of the Library’s users (Baca & Tronzo, 2006; Dirst, 2003).

In 2000 The University of Auckland Library’s collections budget increased by 20% reflecting the increased profile of the Library within The University of Auckland (The University of Auckland Library, 2001, 2003). In turn, the Fine Arts Library’s acquisitions budget increased every year between 2001 and 2004 and as a consequence the collection grew considerably (The University of Auckland Library, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005).

In 2004, the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries (NICAI), a Faculty combining the disciplines of Music, Dance, Architecture, Planning and Fine Arts, was established (The University of Auckland Library, 2005). Wild’s role was realigned to the management of the NICAI Libraries (Music and Dance, Architecture and Planning and Fine Arts Library), and the Special Collections at the General Library. This more meaningful grouping of subject related collections enabled increased collaboration between the Fine Arts Library its Faculty partners and the wider library system.

During this same year, and largely as a consequence of the 2001 Faculty review, the Elam School of Fine Arts studio structure was reorganised (The University of Auckland, 2006b). The School shifted from being a structure of seven “core sections” to being one organised on an interdisciplinary model (The University of Auckland, 2001). The curricular changes at the Elam School of Fine Arts  between 1999 and 2007 included the increased focus on contemporary art theory, interdisciplinary research and postgraduate study, all influenced the Library’s collection and services (The University of Auckland Library, 2002, 2004). These developments included the creation of the Photobook collection  and the cataloguing of the Library’s ephemera  (Jackson, 2006; The University of Auckland Library, 2006). In 2007 the two in-house indices, the New Zealand Art Press Cuttings Index and the New Zealand Art Journal Index were merged to create the online Index to New Zealand Art (INZART) (Irwin, 2008/2009; The University of Auckland Library, 2007).

In 2006, the Fine Arts Library’s two most important institutional partners broke curricular ties. The changes to the Fine Arts academic regulations, which came into effect in 2006, meant that Art History courses were no longer compulsory for Fine Arts students (The University of Auckland, 2005). The flow-on effect on the Library’s collection and services were not as a significant as the impact on the Department of Art History.

In this same year, and following the recommendations of the 2005 departmental review, the Department of Art History moved from 58 Symonds Street, which was just above the Elam School of Fine Arts, to Arts 2, a building at 18 Symonds Street, ten minutes away. While students of Art History remain major users of the Fine Arts Library, the Library experienced a significant drop in the number of academic staff from the Department of Art History visiting the Library (S. Brown & Swan, 2007; Rusbridge, 1998). The adoption of information technologies by academic libraries and the scholarly community alike has provided a significant shift in the way libraries are accessed (Borgman, 2000; Schonfeld & Housewright, 2010). As Collins suggested:

technology reduces the number of patrons who actually walk through the door of art libraries. Statistically this might appear worrisome…In fact, patrons who are able to find answers from their own desktop or from simply e-mailing a librarian almost always remain loyal supporters of the library (2003, p. 82).

Following the retirements of Keefe and Jackson in 2007, Wild moved into the Library, taking up the dual positions of manager of both the NICAI Libraries and the Fine Arts Library. Wild promoted a culture of innovation and collaboration with other departments in the Library and the wider University. In comparison with larger libraries, the Fine Arts Library staff have, as in previous periods, built strong relationships with their users. This is especially true in relation to the Fine Arts students as the Library’s location provides the opportunity for staff to engage with the creative output of the students they support.

Elam Library circa 2011
Figure 6: Fine Arts Library book stacks in 2011. © Victoria Passau.

In 2010 73% of The University of Auckland’s Library’s budget was spent on electronic resources and datasets compared with 41% in 2002 (The University of Auckland Library, 2003, 2011). The purchasing and use of these are supported, promoted and celebrated by the Fine Arts Library which has become a “hybrid library”, relying on both electronic and physical resources (García & Coso, 2006). However, while text can be readily supplied online, successful online image reproduction, important in the field of Fine Arts and Art History, can be more problematic (Carr, 2007; Henri, 2003; Mason & Robinson, 2011). The printing of books and journals remains the preferred format for art publication. Due to the high cost of image reproduction many of these items are expensive and can only be afforded by a collection such as the Fine Arts Library. Professor Elizabeth Rankin, from the Department of Art History argues that “[h]owever many online sources there may be, there is no substitute for browsing on shelves (particularly with art books!) and finding new material. Our good students do this just as much as we do!”(E. Rankin, personal communication, April 4, 2011). The Fine Arts Library’s browsing statistics continue to equal the number of books issued. This aligns with the information seeking-behaviour of art library users, illustrating that both the physical collection and the online collection play a complementary role in the support of the Fine Arts Library’s core constituents (Frank, 1999; Hemmig, 2008; Layne, 1994; Mason & Robinson, 2011; Pacey, 1982).

The Fine Arts Library is increasingly aware of the vital role it plays in educating its users on how to access, evaluate and synthesise information. The importance of libraries’ role in teaching information literacy skills within academic courses has been well documented (Bundy, 2004; Chiste, Glover, & Westwood, 2000; Dewald, Scholz-Crane, Booth, & Levine, 2000). These pedagogical shifts have been recognised both within The University of Auckland Library and the University as a whole (Carrie & Mitchell, 2010; The University of Auckland, 2006a; Zdravkovic, 2011). The provision of tutorials and one-on-one student support at undergraduate and postgraduate level is a major focus for the two Fine Arts Library Subject Librarians. Library or information literacy tutorials are not on the main “embedded” in the Art History or the Elam School of Fine Arts  curricula, however, the Fine Arts Library’s Subject Librarians work in close collaboration with a number of academic staff to teach assignment or course specific library and information literacy skills (Kobzina, 2010; Miller & Pellen, 2004; Pritchard, 2010).

Through collaboration and promotion the Fine Arts Library has made a concerted effort to bridge the divide between Whitaker Place, the main campus and the wider community (Bottorff et al., 2008). The raising of the Fine Arts Library’s profile outside of the University has been achieved through the availability of INZART from 2008, via a commercial database - Knowledge Basket (The University of Auckland Library, 2009). For institutional members only, the addition of 90,000 full-text historical press cuttings in INZART has also made this a value added resource (University of Auckland Library, 2010). These developments alongside the loading of the images from the AHID database onto the next generation Library Catalogue has not only provided easier access to these resources but has generated internal promotional opportunities for the Fine Arts Library (The University of Auckland Library, 2010).

Conclusion
This historical case study enabled the researcher to document the history of the Fine Arts Library and investigate the relationship the Library had with a number of institutional stakeholders over the past sixty years. This article suggests that the curricula of the Elam School of Fine Arts and the Department of Art History have significantly influenced the development of the Library’s serial, book and special research collections and the Library’s provision of a wide range of services. The establishment and ongoing creation of the Fine Arts Library’s reference or special collections are also a characteristic of art libraries. Parallels have been drawn where possible to the developments and trends of specialist art libraries in the international context. The history of the Fine Arts Library in many instances mirrors the experiences of its overseas counterparts.  The article highlights the complexities of working within a decentralised library system. The culture of self-sufficiency and independence from the General Library which characterised the Fine Arts Library until the late 1990s has shifted to being more collaborative as it has become integrated into The University of Auckland Library system. The culture has always been defined by its commitment to supporting the needs and interests of the Library’s core users, as evidenced in both the official documents and oral history narratives. Despite The Elam School of Fine Arts and the Department of Art History experiencing a number of administrative and academic challenges these have not significantly impacted on the Library’s fundamental culture, which has been characterised by strong connections and positive collaborations between the staff and students.

Financial, staffing and accommodation issues have been a recurring theme in the shaping of the Library’s history. From its small beginnings as a library / lunch room, staffed by the Elam School of Fine Arts office, the Fine Arts Library has become a well-resourced and well-used collection. The staff, whose specialised knowledge and helpful and flexible approach to supporting the needs of their patrons, has created a welcoming and dynamic environment. The Fine Arts Library, with its focus on the research and teaching needs of their patrons, is an integral part of the university experience for the Fine Arts and Art History students.

The past 60 years has seen the Fine Arts Library, as part of The University of Auckland, establish its place as the premier Fine Arts Library in New Zealand. The Library, its collection and its specialised staff are valued and respected, both within the University environment and the wider society, for the vital role they play in advancing the research, teaching, learning and creativity of the academic and arts community which they serve.

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Notes on Contributor

Victoria Passau completed a Master of Information Studies degree in 2011 from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. She works as the Client Services Librarian at the Fine Arts Library, The University of Auckland. This article is an outcome of research undertaken as the final research project towards her Masters of Library and Information Studies and was supported by the LIANZA - Paul Szentirmay Special Librarianship Scholarship 2010.
Correspondence to: v.passau@auckland.ac.nz