The word "ephemera" is taken from the Greek word "ephemeros", meaning lasting only for a day, or short-lived. It conveys the idea that the material was originally intended to be of short-term use, and then discarded.

Examples of ephemera in our collections include:

  • posters
  • pamphlets
  • sales catalogues
  • theatre and concert programmes
  • sports and agricultural show programmes
  • calendars
  • menus
  • postcards and greeting cards
  • tickets and memorabilia.

Items of ephemera are typically:

  • too insubstantial to be included in the Library’s book collections
  • anonymously produced
  • of commercial content
  • related to popular culture and everyday life
  • of interesting graphic design.

Printed Ephemera Collection

The Printed Ephemera Collection includes published programmes, posters, menus, advertising, pamphlets, and other textual and graphic material. Search for descriptions of ephemera items using TAPUHI.

More about the Printed Ephemera Collection

Digital copies of ephemera items

Find and use digital copies of selected ephemera items on the National Library Beta.

Ephemera in the Manuscripts Collection

The Manuscripts Collection contains some printed ephemera collected by individuals or groups, that reflects their lives and activities. Items include theatre programmes and pamphlets on many topics. Search for descriptions of items in this collection using TAPUHI.

More about the Manuscripts Collection

Ephemera in the Drawings, Paintings and Prints collection

You can find small pamphlets and exhibition catalogues in the Drawings, Paintings and Prints collection. Many are described on TAPUHI and the National Library Catalogue.

More about the Drawings, Paintings and Prints collection

Ephemera in the Special Printed Collections

You can find prospectuses, small broadsides, invitations, and other items produced by private presses and book artists in the Fine Printing Collection within the Special Printed Collections. Some items are described on the National Library Catalogue.

More about the Special Printed Collections

Ephemera in other institutions

The following New Zealand libraries and museums also hold ephemera collections.

Auckland Museum Library catalogue – Auckland Museum website

Auckland City Libraries ephemera index – Auckland City Libraries website

Te Papa Picture Library - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa website

Macmillan Brown Library - University of Canterbury website

Hocken Library catalogue - University of Otago website