About Us

President of The Friends of The Turnbull Library

Katherine Baxter took over as president of the Friends of the Turnbull Library in July 2021.

Details of the current Officers and Committee are here: FoTL Committee 2023

ATL100 Celebrations

Over 2019-2021 the Friends joined the Turnbull staff, the Turnbull Endowment Trust and many others to celebrate the Library’s anniversary. An account of the celebrations can be found here: ATL100 celebrations

Looking to the future….
With the anniversary behind us, the Friends are looking forward to continuing to support the Turnbull through our programme of publications, public events and research.

“What’s next? One hundred years from now what will the Turnbull Library be like? Certainly, it won’t be like it is now. It can’t be. The only ‘must’ in the Turnbull’s future is the promise of care for the ever-growing collections, the promise to make the collections available, and – one hopes – ongoing acknowledgment of the many donors who make all of this possible. Thank you Alex H Turnbull et al.”  Chris Szekely Chief Librarian Off the Record 2021


The Friends of the Turnbull Library publishes newsletters and an annual magazine to publicise the work of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Our regular Publications list is here.


Research Grant

We offer an annual Research Grant worth up to $20,000 since 2019 to scholars undertaking research in the collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Details of the terms and conditions of the Research Grant are here.


Public Talks

fotl_lecturesMonthly public talks are held on the ground floor rooms of the National Library of New Zealand on the corner of Molesworth and Aitken streets, open to all.

For details of these public events, see What’s On.


Some previous FoTL Projects 


  • The European sources of New Zealand culture, June 1992
  • Edward Gibbon Wakefield and New Zealand, 1830-1865: a reconsideration, August 1996
  • Collecting, Connecting, Creating Knowledge: Libraries, Archives and Research in the 21st Century in conjunction with the Stout Centre, June 2003
  • Paradise New Worlds of Books & Readers: an international SHARP conference in conjunction with the Stout Centre, January 2005
  • Miltonic Origins/Miltonic Innovations: Milton’s poetry and thought in New World societies and cultures, December 2008. 

Conservation of Turnbull paintings

A project funded by the Macklin Bequest Fund plus a donation by Robert Leigh-Wood (A H Turnbull descendant), 2009-2010.


Alexander Turnbull Centennial Fund established to raise funds by 1985.

David Bilbrough Bequest (1997-8), Bill Secker Bequest (2005) and Margery Walton Bequest (2007) deposited with the ATL Endowment Fund. A donation from Margery Renwick in memory of the late W L (Bill) Renwick was added to the Fund in 2014.

 FoTL Research Grant

Awarded annually since 2003 (except 2010, 2011)

 FoTL Website

Set up in 2008, redeveloped 2014

 Founder Lecture, annual event since 1990

 Milton Quatercentenary 2008

Secondary School essay competition

Special issue of OTR

 Ninetieth Anniversary of ATL 2010

  • Set of three bookmarks designed by Wai-te-ata Press/ Te Whare Ta o Waieata
  • Thanks Alex postcard competition prize of $1,000
  • Founder Lecture by the Governor-General, HE the Hon Sir Anand Satyanand, at the Grand Hall, Parliament Buildings

 Oral history

  • Political Diaries – financial support during 1990s
  • Cambodian Oral History – support 2004-2009

 Parliamentary legislation

  • Submissions to Judicial Review of National Library restructuring as it affected the Alexander Turnbull Library, 1999
  • Submissions on National Library restructuring and transfer to Department of Internal Affairs, 2010

 Photo Portrait

Margaret Calder, Chief Librarian, first woman in that position; by Jane Ussher, 2007

 Public Programme

Monthly lectures organised to celebrate research conducted in the Turnbull Library.


FoTL Newsletter
Off the Record magazine annually since 1994
The Turnbull Library Record co-published annually with the Turnbull Library since January 1940
The Turnbull: A Library and its world – Rachel Barrowman (for 75th anniversary) 1995
Edward Gibbon Wakefield and the Colonial Dream: a Reconsideration, 1997

 Purchases for ATL

Castle Collection of Printed Music, $17,000 from the Centennial Fund, in July 1998

 Sculptures in bronze

Janet Frame by Antony Stones, 1999
Michael King by Antony Stones, 2006


  • 1999 FoTL logo, based on AHT bookmark by Herbert Williams
  • Letterhead
  • Membership brochure
  • Three bookmarks (see Ninetieth Anniversary)

 Turnbull family headstone

The headstone marking the Turnbull family grave (moved during motorway construction in the late 1960s) was given conservation treatment and relocated to a more prominent site in the Bolton Street Cemetery in December 2007. FoTL funded the refurbishment as well as the erection of a sign in 2010.

 Do join us!

The Friends of the Turnbull Library is an independent incorporated society, based in Wellington, formed in 1939 to promote interest in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Members are individuals or households, institutions, companies or corporate groups, who pay an annual subscription (our financial year begins on 1 April) to support the activities of the Library, to assist in the acquisition of materials, and to encourage research in the collections. To join us, or see benefits of membership read more.

The Friends of the Turnbull Library is a registered charity encouraging financial donations to assist our activities. Bequests and donations are used to support the work of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

Details of how you can help are here.


More about what we do