Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Āwhina Putumōhio Puāwaitanga Classic Catalogue help

Getting started with Classic

On our Classic Catalogue you can search our entire collection (books, magazines, CDs, DVDs, talking books, and other items in the collection). You can also view your library card information, such as items on loan, reserves and overdue charges. You can use the catalogue both at the library and from home via our website at www.wcl.govt.nz. Below you'll find some tips for getting started with our Classic Catalogue, as well as advanced tips and tricks for expert searching.

Still have questions? We'd love to hear from you - you can contact us via email.


Table of Contents


Our Classic Catalogue interface is available in 4 languages:

How to Search

The simplest way to search is to enter the author, title or some subject words and click on the 'Search' button. The catalogue is not case sensitive – you can use either upper case (capital) or lower case (small) letters.

When you search without entering a search type, you'll see a summary of where your search terms were found in the catalogue, e.g.

Search results summary

You can then click on the result that interests you, e.g. all the items with an author that matches your search, or all the items with a subject that matches your search.

You can search again by clicking New Search in the upper right corner.

Alternatively, you can choose to start your search with a search type from the drop-down box in the search screen:

Select a search type

Choosing a search type directly, will mean you go straight to your search results - whether they're a list of titles, authors, subjects or series.

Choosing a search type - which should I use?

Keyword searches:

Try Keyword for a general opening search, or when you have specific search terms which won't result in too many 'hits'.

If you try a Keyword search and the results aren't useful, try searching by subject, or search for an item that you know is good and use the subject headings in that item's record.

Title searches:

If you know the title:

Use Title browse if you know how the title begins or if you want to browse similar titles, e.g. 'harry potter and the'.

Use Title keyword if you don't know all the words in the title or their order, e.g. 'parachute color' (to find 'What color is my parachute?'.

Author searches:

If you know the author:

Use Author or name browse if you know the surname and want to browse through a list of names to find the right one. Type in the surname (last name), then a comma, then the first name or beginning letters, e.g. 'smith, w'.

Use Author or name (keyword) if you want a list of all the titles by a specific person and there isn't anyone else with that name, e.g. 'douglas coupland'.

Subject searches:

If you know the subject:

Use Subjects (keyword) if you don't know the order of the subject heading.

Use Subject browse if you know how the subject heading begins or want to browse through the headings to find the best, e.g. 'world war'.

Series searches, e.g. Lonely Planet:

If you're looking for all the books in a series:

Try Series browse – use to find items published in a series, e.g. Criterion collection DVDs and Lonely Planet books.

Browsing by call number:

Call number browse – search the collection as it is shelved. If you find a good book, see what other items are on the subject by typing in the call number on the spine, including the decimal point.

Searching by ISBN or ISSN:

ISBN/ISSN – ISBNs (International Standard Book Number) & ISSNs (International Standard Serial Number -- for magazines and journals) are printed on books and magazines when published; only use this when you want a specific edition of an item.

Limiting options

Limiting options can be found underneath the search box in the main search screen and allow you to limit your searches by Age level, Format, Date, Branch and Availability.

limiting options screenshot

Limiting options will only work with Keyword, Title Keyword, Subject Keyword, and Author Keyword search types.

Click the arrow beside one of these options to view full details:

General limiting options:

general limiting options

These are the ones under the first arrow - 'Limiting Options'. Here you can choose to limit your search by age level or format:

  • Age

    You can select kids, preschool or teens to only search for items in those collections.

  • Format

    You can select Magazine, Large print, Music CD, Book on CD, eBook, score, DVD and more to limit your search just to one format in our collection.

Limit by date:

Fill in one of these boxes to narrow your search.

limit by date

Limit by branch

Here you can choose to limit your searching to just one of our branch library locations, e.g. Karori Library, or choose to search just items that are available (not out on loan).

options to limit by branch

Advanced Search Screen

The Advanced Search Screen can be accessed from the yellow left-hand navigation:

Accessing Advanced Search

The Advanced Search Screen allows you to combine an author search with a keyword search, and provides the same limiters (format, age level, branch, availability) as the default search screen:

Advanced Search Screen screenshot

Search results

Your search results are shown as a list of titles that match your search. You can click through to view availability, shelf location and other information about an item.

From this page you can also view use the Personal List option (this is session based - once you leave our site your list won't persist), review your search history and select records to print or email. A search results page looks like this:

Search results page example

If your search includes items that aren't books, you'll see a small note on the right of the screen that shows what format the item is. For example:

DVD format in results screen

Change the order of your search results

The default order of the Title List is reverse chronological order – newest items by year are first. If you have fewer than 1000 results, you can choose to sort your search results by author or title.

Print checked records

If you want to print details of a number of items before coming into the library, check the box next to each item you want to include and click Print checked records. (You'll have several options for how you want the records to display on printing - we recommend not changing the default setting here.)

You can also do this from inside the personal lists feature - where you also have extra options, including emailing selected records

How to use the Full Details page

To view a all the information we have on record about a title (including availability and location), click on the linked title from the search results screen. The Full Details page for that title will then display - it should look something like this:

Full Details page

From this page you can Place a reserve, use the Personal List Options, Review search history, Email or Print the record.

Full item description

This is the middle section of the screen and displays:

  • Title
  • Author (click on their name to see all their works)
  • Publisher (make sure it's the edition you want)
  • Paging and size (items over 28 cm may be shelved in a Large Book section)
  • Subjects (click on a subject heading to see what other items we have on this subject)

Location and Availability - where can I find it?

This is the section right at the bottom. Here you'll find:

  • Date
    • If the item is on loan, it is due back this date
    • If the item is available, it was returned on this date
  • Branch – click on the branch or collection for directions, or visit our Branches page.
  • Call Number – the dewey number or collection name helps you locate the item
  • Status:
    • Available – the item is in the library (but may not be shelved yet)
    • On loan – the item is on loan to a library member
    • Not for loan – the item is only available for use in the library
    • In processing – the item is new and not available yet; ask at an Enquiries desk
    • Reserved for pickup – the item is held for another borrower who has reserved it
    • In Transit for reserve – the item has been sent to another library to fill a reserve
    • In transit from branch – the item has been returned, perhaps to another library; ask at an Enquiries desk
    • On order – the item has been ordered by the library from our suppliers. You can reserve it but it is not available for borrowing yet

To view another record, either return to the Title List, click on Next or Previous at the top and bottom of the page, or fill in the search box at the bottom of the page.

How to locate items on the shelf

  • Fiction is shelved alphabetically under the author's surname.
  • Non-fiction is shelved by Dewey number
  • Biographies are arranged alphabetically by the subject's surname. Check the catalogue in case the biography you are after has a Dewey number.
  • There are separate Reference collections at every library. Catalogue records say 'Ref' at the beginning of an item's Call number, and 'Not for loan' under the Status.

But it isn't there!

  • Check when the item was returned (underneath 'Date' in the item record). Items returned during the past few days may be on Returned Today shelves or on shelving trolleys.
  • Check the size in case it is 28 cm or over, and check if Large Books are shelved separately at your branch.
  • Check display shelves.
  • Ask a staff member for assistance, sometimes a second pair of eyes helps!

Placing a reserve

Click the Place a reserve button on the left side of the Full Record page. You will be prompted for your Borrower information, then taken to the Branch Pickup page. Select the branch, use the 'holiday reserve' option if you want the reserve to activate on a specific date, and click Place reserve. We will notify you by your telephone, email or post when the item is ready to collect, depending on your preference.

Click for a full tutorial on placing reserves (with screenshots)

Please note that a fee of $2 applies to each reserve placed by adult borrowers. If you select 'Courier' as your pickup branch, additional fees will be payable.


If your reservation did not work:

  • Check that you typed in the correct card number and last name. Contact us if you are unsure of your details.
  • Sometimes there is a temporary glitch with the catalogue; try placing your reserve again.
  • Fill in the online reservation form and we'll place the reserve for you.

Review your previous searches

To redo a previous search, click on 'Review search history' on the left-hand side of the screen. Locate the search you want to repeat and click on the link.

Personal lists

To reserve several items simultaneously or mark records to return to, you can use the 'Personal list' feature.


Lists created with this feature don't persist outside of a catalogue session, i.e. the next time you use our catalogue, or if you leave your session idle for a few minutes then start a new catalogue session, lists created using this feature will not be saved for you.

However, if you just want to create lists to email to yourself or print, this feature can be very useful.

To use this feature:

When in an item record, click on 'Add this record to list' in the yellow sidebar

When in a Title list page, select items by checking the boxes and then click 'Add checked records from this page to list' in the yellow sidebar

Click 'View personal list' from the yellow sidebar anytime in a session you want to see your selections. You can reserve some or all of the items at any stage.

Check your details

You can access information on your loans, overdue items, reserves and money owing. Either click on 'view my account' on the catalogue menu screen, or 'Check your library card' at the bottom of all catalogue screens. Then type in your library card number (e.g. C1234567) and last name. Click 'submit query'.

  • Loans: what you have out and when it is due back.
  • Overdue items: your overdue items.
  • Reserves: what you have on reserve. 'Request pending' means the item is not available yet; 'Ready for pickup' means you can collect it. You can cancel a reserve by selecting the title, then clicking 'Cancel this reserve'.
  • Charges, fees and lost material: information on charges such as overdue, interlibrary returns and reserve charges.
  • Borrower status: if it says 'Restricted', you may have money owing or we may require some information from you. Please ask at your local library.

Full tutorial (with screenshots) on checking your card is available on our Tutorials page.


You can renew your item(s) for one more loan period (for example 3 weeks for books, 1 week for CDs & DVDs) from the original due date, unless it has been reserved by another customer. Only 1 renewal per item is possible, and this can be done online by selecting the title(s) in your loan summary, and clicking 'Renew items'.

Please note that if the item being renewed had a rental fee when you first loaned it (eg CDs & DVDs) that an additional rental fee will be charged to you when you renew it. If the item being renewed did not have a rental fee when first loaned (eg books), then the renewal is free.

Screenshots and a step-by-step tutorial for how to renew your items are available as part of our checking your card tutorial on our Tutorials page.

I just want something good to read!

  • Find good fiction by searching the catalogue with Fiction Genres – the main genres are listed on our Fiction subject help page.
  • Find reviews of our most recent non-fiction and fiction on our What's New page, and click on the book titles that look interesting to see if they are on the shelf.
  • Full lists of new fiction, DVDs and Videos are listed each month on the What's New page.
  • Our Fiction popular topic page features recommended books, as do many other Popular topics pages.
  • If you want a book similar to one you've read, look up the item you enjoyed in our catalogue and click on the subject or author headings to see what similar items we hold.
  • Check out our displays of new books and recommended titles, or browse through the 'Returned Today' stands to see what everyone else has been reading.

Magazine searching

You can search for magazines just like books – try a Title browse, Keyword or Title keyword search. You can restrict a Keyword search to magazines using the format term 'qmagazine', e.g. 'gardening qmagazine' will bring up all of our gardening magazines and none of the books.

To search for magazine articles, try our online databases at mygateway.info. All you need are your library card details.


An easy way to browse our catalogue is to use the Quicksearch links. We have set up many popular searches such as DVDs by branch, music and fiction genres, and graphic novels.

Subject help

To help you locate library material, we have designed subject guides for many of the most popular and complex areas. Visit our Subject help pages for information on topics such as Annual reports, Business directories, Family history, Magazines and Newspapers.

Extra for Experts Search tips

Boolean searching

Expand your search by using OR between search terms, e.g. 'teenagers or adolescents'; 'dogs or canines'

Narrow your search by using the words AND or BUT NOT, e.g. 'mountains and geology'; 'viruses but not computers'

Use brackets for complex boolean searches, e.g. 'apples (cookery or farming)'


You can use an asterisk * with part of a subject or name to expand the search. This also helps if you don't know the exact spelling of an author or subject. The * character may be used at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a word. For example:

'psych* child*' will find items on child psychology or children and psychiatry
'tschai*' will find items by or about the composer Tschaikovsky
'*house' will find items on house and doghouse
'h*se' will find items on house and hose

Wildcard searching

You can use a question mark ? with part of a subject or name to expand a search. The wildcard character can be used at the beginning, in the middle, or at the end of a word. For example:

'transport?' will find items on transport and transports whereas 'transport*' (see truncation) will retrieve transport, transports, transportation, etc.
'comput???' will retrieve records containing compute, computed, computer, and computers, but not computation, computerize, etc.
' wom?n' retrieves women and woman

Shortcut keys

You can use quick search terms in instead of the drop-down menus – they are quicker, and good if you get sore wrists from mouse use. Examples: '//wvanity fair qmagazine' or '//wqdvd qjuvenile'.

Search type Quick search
Keyword* //W
Name browse //NB/
Name keyword //N
Name keyword (results in list of name headings) //NW/
Name/Word //Nname/word
Title browse //T
Title keyword //TW/
Subject browse //SB/
Subject keyword //SD/
Subject keyword (results in a list of subject headings) //SW/
Series browse //S
Series keyword //ED/
Series keyword (results in list of series headings) //EW/
Call number browse //C

All keyword searches result in a list of titles, except where noted.
* Remember, keyword search doesn't search author fields.

Library Catalogues | About the Site | Copyright