Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Central Library Collections

Central Library closure


The Wellington Central Library building is closed until further notice. You can continue to access library services via our branch libraries, the popup library at 101 Wakefield Street and this website. Please visit our Central Library closure FAQs for information about services in the interim and wellington.govt.nz/libraries for further information about the closure.

Adult learning / English as a second language

On the Ground floor, by the escalator, there is a small collection of books and CDs to improve your reading and English or Te reo Māori skills. The collection is divided into three levels: yellow for beginners, blue for intermediate and purple for advanced. Subjects include grammar, vocabulary, speaking and listening, studying for English examinations such as ILETS, as well as general books to read in simple English. More information is available on the Learning English Popular topic.

Annual reports

The library's annual report collection is located at the north end (Victoria & Harris Street corner) of the 1st floor of Central library and consists of annual and interim reports for:

  • Publicly listed New Zealand companies
  • Government agencies other than Departments or Ministries
  • Associations and organisations of all types (including community, Crown Research Institutes and Tertiary institutes)
  • Australian and international financial reports (a small collection).

The collection does not include every annual report available.

Our annual report collections are not searchable via the computer catalogue.

Parliamentary papers and government annual reports printed by Order of the House are printed in the Appendices to the Journals (the 'A to Js'). These include reports of government departments, Commissions, Royal Commissions and select committees. Local Authority/District/City/Regional Council Annual reports /Annual plans - can be found in the vertical files by the 2nd floor enquiries desk.

More information about annual reports


Although there is an extensive biography collection at the south end of the First floor (filed in alphabetical order of the person, not the author), some biographies also occur alongside the main Dewey number shelves. This is because they also contain information about the subject. Some common examples include:

  • film biographies 791.43092
  • music biographies 789 or 786.9

Collected biographies can be found at Bc which is on the south wall of the First floor in a separate sequence.

Car & bike manuals

As well as general car books and magazines, the Central branch has a wide range of manuals available for borrowing from the First Floor. The main models are well represented.

Car manual collection

CDs, DVDs etc

Although each branch has CD and DVD collections, the Central library houses over 50,000 items, and if music or movies is your interest, this is well worth a visit. The collection is housed on the Ground floor and covers almost every genre - from Albinoni to Frank Zappa; Animation to Historical to Spy.
Don't forget about our world music collection, documentaries, and extensive foreign film area. More information is available at:

Chinese corner

Located on the First floor, close to the language books (400s), there is a special collection of Chinese language books which is available for loan. Thank you to the Confucius Institute Headquarters in Hanban and Wellington for their generous support of this collection.

Chinese Language Corner

Computing collection

For your convenience, we have gathered all the computer related books and magazines into one area at the north end of the First Floor. The topics cover both software and hardware as well as internet, programming, web design and office applications.

Children's and Young Adults' Collections

As well as picture books, easy readers, comic books, homework help and great chapter books which can be found in all our libraries, the Central library has some special collections. These include pop-up books, giant size books (for reading to a group), the nostalgia collection, and a much wider range of series.

Family history, including BDM

As well as general books, the Second Floor houses many resources to assist your genealogical research. These include:

  • NZ Official Record Indexes e.g. Births (1840-1990), Marriages (1840-1990) and Deaths (1848-1990)
  • NZ Cemetery Transcription Records
  • NZ Electoral rolls from 1866
  • Historical postal directories
  • In-library computer access to ancestrylibrary.com which houses millions of US, UK and European records e.g. census data
  • Microfiche Indexes, such as military lists
  • The Dominion and Evening Post on reel to reel microfilm.

Genealogy at Central guide

Foreign language

The Central library has books written in over 40 different languages, including fiction and non-fiction, dictionaries, and magazines.

The quickest search is to use the EasyFind catalogue Advanced search option and enter the language required e.g. Vietnamese into the Call number box. Don't forget about our online newspaper resource PressReader which lists current newspapers from over 40 countries, many not in English.

If you want to learn a language that is not English or Te Reo Māori, the CDs, DVDs or language kits are on the Ground floor by the escalator, and the books are on the First Floor beginning at around 430. There is a very wide range of children's readers on the Ground Floor.

Government, especially law

Most government information is available from the Second floor and is not available for loan.

The collection includes bills, laws, statutesand regulations, government department annual reports, indexes to official records, latest editions of well known legal texts, parliamentary publications such as the Hansard debates, NZ Gazette; and local government documents. The collection includes historical as well as current publications.

Government library guide

Korean corner

Located on the First floor, there is a special collection of Korean books, CDs and DVDs which are available for loan. Thank you to the Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Wellington for their generous support of this collection.

Korean collection

Local history

The aim is provide almost comprehensively material for reference or research which is specific to Wellington, and which contributes to the social or cultural history of the Wellington region.

As well as books, this implies maps, photo copies, ephemera, newspapers, historical directories (e.g. Stone's Wellington) and indexes. The Evening Post has also been clipped and stored in broad subject categories 1920-1977. Please ask staff, as many resources are not housed in public areas. More information is in the local history section.


Most of the 2000 magazine titles are available to borrow from the First Floor, shelved in broad subject sections. Each area provides an alphabetical list, and a subject list of magazine titles held.

Science and Humanities

Includes subjects such as computing, business, health, politics, social issues and religion. Click here for the alphabetical title list and subject list.

Art, Music and Literature

Includes subjects such as film, popular and classical music, interior design and sport. Click here for the alphabetical title list and subject list.

New Zealand Collection magazines

The Second Floor houses reference copies of New Zealand & Maori reference magazines, click here for the alphabetical title list.


Visit Kohikohinga Māori on the Second Floor to consult one of the country's best collections of Māori books and resources available in a public library. This must be read or viewed in the Library although in some cases lending copies are also available.
Some specialist reference resources include:

  • Government sources and general indexes especially Appendices to the Journals of the Legislative Council and the House of Representatives (Native affairs issues between 1863 and 1928 are contained in the G and E series papers of the Appendices) e.g.
  • 1928 : Royal Commission to inquire into confiscations of native lands (available in G series papers)
  • 1863 : Return of Ngāti Awa iwi to Taranaki (E series papers)
  • Raupatu Document Bank 139 volumes of material documenting land claims from the 1870s to 1960s plus statutes relating to confiscated land
  • Fletcher's Index to Māori names There are four volumes in book form, or two microfilms. The indexes include names of people and places in several books that were published before 1926
  • Niupepa 1842-1933
  • Māori births, deaths (1913-61) & marriages (1913-54) index

Māori Collection


The library has two main collections of maps at the Central Library: a lending collection of travel maps, and a reference collection of New Zealand and Pacific topographical maps and nautical charts. Both are found on the Second floor.

Travel maps can be searched for on the library catalogue - just enter your country and maps into the Easyfind catalogue e.g. India maps.

Atlases are shelved at 912. Some travel guides will also contain maps.


In addition to our massive online newspaper collections we hold The Dominion and Evening Post on reel to reel microfilm.
(Dominion - September 1907- ; Evening Post - from February 1865).

The Second floor also holds Wellington community, New Zealand metropolitan, New Zealand weekly, New Zealand Provincial, and a small number of international newspapers.

With the exception of local newspapers, copies are generally held for three months only.

Wellington community newspapers held

  • Courier News (Wainuiomata) 1977 - 1981
  • Eastbourne Sun 1921 - 1922
  • Eastern Suburb News Aug 1978 - Dec 1982
  • Horowhenua Times 1982
  • Hutt News 1976 - 1982
  • Independent Herald (Northern Suburbs) Sept 1974 - 1980, 1982
  • Kapi-Mana News Sept 1974 - Dec 1980, July 1981 - Dec 1982
  • Kapiti Observer Sept 1974 - Dec 1978, July 1979 - Dec 1982
  • Karori & Western Suburbs News 1975 - 1982
  • Upper Hutt Leader 1982

Historical papers held

  • The Maori Messenger 1849 - 1863
  • New Zealand Gazette 31 Oct 1841, Apr - Sept 1844
  • New Zealand Gazette & Wellington Spectator Aug 1839 - Sept 1844
  • New Zealand Graphic & Ladies Journal 30 May 1890 - 30 Dec 1893
  • New Zealand Spectator 1853, June 1858 - Dec 1864
  • New Zealand Spectator & Cook Strait Guardian Oct 1844 - Mar 1848
  • New Zealand Times 1882, 1895, 1897 - 1904
  • Sports Post Oct 1952 - Dec 1955
  • Wellington Journal 13 Apr - 22 July 1868

Newspapers online

NZ reference

Although there are many NZ related books throughout the library available for borrowing, there is a dedicated reference collection of material about New Zealand, its people, geography, history, culture, politics, law etc., with emphasis on the wider Wellington region. It includes any material published anywhere about New Zealand or New Zealanders; as well as extensive range of government documents.
See also:

Rare books

A small number of books are placed in our rare books collection when they are out of print and very difficult to replace. We keep them in a climate-controlled stack area on the Second floor. Some are of unusual cultural value, and not held by many libraries in NZ. Although they are all listed in the catalogue, some will need an appointment to view them. There is usually a glass cabinet display featuring some items.

Scores and Songbooks

The library has about 10,000 classical music scores plus 1000 popular music songbooks in music notation which can be borrowed from the First floor, south end. Scores for the main instruments e.g. piano, violin, flute as well as voice, and works such as opera are all available. Some instructional material is also available.


New Zealand Standards are produced by the NZ Standards Association, and are usually joint standards with Australia. The library holds most of the current standards - please ask at the Science and Humanities Enquiries desk, 1st floor. They are reference only, for you to read in the Library only, and cannot be photocopied. Standards are not listed in the library catalogue.


Many current NZ statistics are online now from www.stats.govt.nz but printed copies are kept on the South end of the 2nd Floor of the Central Library, behind the escalators. They are organised into the broad subject categories e.g. business, education, health, justice, population, tourism. Also shelved there are the series, Key Statistics and Hot off the Press.


There are three stacks: books, periodicals, and audio-visual (AV). These represent items which are less popular but which the library does wish to retain as part of the collection. They are not available for browsing by customers but staff will be happy to retrieve any item for you to consult.
Some items are highlighted in this series: /popular/stack20.html


To supplement our collection on Māori heritage and matauranga, we have a small collection of theses which have been made available by the granting university. Please ask at the Second Floor desk to consult a copy. Most cannot be photocopied.

Māori theses


Wellington City Libraries has a collection of over 600 zines with special emphasis on locally produced Wellington zines. A zine is a self published, inexpensively produced publication with a small circulation. There are two collections:

  • Lending zines: located next to the enquiries desk in the Arts, Music and Literature section on the 1st floor. These can be issued for 3 weeks at no charge. The collection is arranged in topic order e.g. comics, arts or literary. List of zines held at the library (here)
  • Reference zines: housed in the rare books room on the 2nd floor of the Central Library and features zines produced by Wellington based zinesters.

The collection is indexed in the Wellington Local History Database:

To see a list of all our holdings, enter in the keyword: zines. To search for a specific zine, try entering in the title.

Zines blog

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