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Management of Restricted publications

A restricted classification on a publication is legally enforceable. It is an offence under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 to supply a publication to someone excluded from accessing it by the classification. For example, most classifications will limit the availability of a publication to persons over a specified age (such as 13, 15, 16, or 18).

In order to ensure that libraries comply with the law, restricted publications need to be monitored and treated differently from other items in the library's collection.

See our flowchart about Labelling restricted books, comics, graphic novels and magazines. (PDF, v9.0, 432kb)


Amendments to the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 in 2005 have changed the labelling requirements for restricted non-film publications. Under section 36A, all publications which are given a restricted classification from 2005 onwards must carry an official classification label which specifies the classification. Labels are available from the Film and Video Labelling Body.

Some publications classified prior to this amendment carry age restrictions and in some cases display conditions. While these publications do not have to carry official labels they must still comply with the restrictions given to them.

DVDs and videos supplied to the public in New Zealand must carry a New Zealand classification label. You can search for the classifications of these publications on the Decisions Database or the Film and Video Labelling Body's website.

Display conditions

In addition to restricting the availability of a publication to persons over a certain age, display conditions may also be given to a publication which dictate the manner in which the book, magazine, graphic novel or DVD can be displayed within the library. Often this condition will state that the publication must only be displayed in parts of the premises where entry is restricted to persons over the age of 18, as if a restricted book is on the open shelf there is little to stop an underage person accessing it.

In practice, for libraries display conditions such as this mean that the book (or DVD disc) should not be stored on the open shelf, and should instead be kept in the stacks or under the issuing desk where staff can monitor which users have access to the publication.

Restricted publications

Publications such as DVDs, videos, books, magazines and graphic novels which carry a restricted classification carry a red classification label. For more information on New Zealand classification labels and their meanings click here.

The Office can provide brochures for libraries to help staff and borrowers understand what the different labels mean. Any organisation that supplies DVDs or videos to the public is required to display signage which explains what the classification symbols mean. The Office can provide posters in either A2 or A3 size. If you would like a supply of brochures or posters for your library, contact the Information Unit. All information is supplied free of charge.

Objectionable publications

If a publication is classified as objectionable (banned), this mean that the availability of this publication is likely to cause injury to the public good. It is illegal to import, distribute, supply or possess an objectionable publication.

More information

Every 2 months the Office sends out a newsletter to libraries which includes a list of all books, magazines and graphic novels classified by the Office. For more information on this click here.

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