Wellington City Libraries

Te Matapihi Ki Te Ao Nui

Finding Wellington information

Visit our Wellington section for resource guides to heritage and current issues in our region.

Featured topics include Wellington Waterfront, earthquakes, histories of Island Bay, Karori, Newtown/Berhampore, Miramar and Seatoun. Explore our Wellington Local History and New Zealand Artists databases (you must be using a free internet PC or a computer outside the library to access these databases).

What do we have?

The City Libraries contain some of the best sources of information about our city - covering its past, present and future. One reason its holdings are so extensive is that besides books, the Libraries have been actively collecting non-book material related to Wellington.


The main sequence for published material about Wellington can be found under two separate Dewey classifications:

919.3141 covers Wellington from a general and geographical perspective. These books will include such things as travel guides and pictorial works.

993.141 is the main classification for books about Wellington's history.

The largest collection of these books are held at the Central branch. Both lending and reference books with these numbers can both be found North end of the 2nd (top) floor of the Central Public Library. Lending books are against the far North red wall of the Travel and History collection. The reference collection of Wellington books is far more extensive than the lending collection. These can be found in the separate New Zealand Reference Collection (NZ Room) Victoria Street side of the 2nd floor. In both cases, don't forget to check the separate Large Books shelves - these are particularly good for books of a pictorial nature.

There are however some examples of books which have a strong Wellington content, but which have been classified under separate subject headings. One of the main groups falling into this category are books about Wellington's architecture and its heritage buildings. These are shelved in the architecture section under 720.993131. At the Central Branch, lending copies will be in the main lending sequence (South end of the 1st floor), and reference books will be in the NZ Room collection.

Note that that because of high demand and the rarity of some of the Wellington material, there are a significant number of reference books at the Central Library which are kept behind the Enquiries desk on the 2nd floor, in the Stack (access by staff only), or in the Rare Books Room. If this is the case, the location will be noted on the computer catalogue. If you wish to view any of this material, please ask staff at the Enquiries Desk. You will be required to surrender your library card while you are reading this material.

Non Book Material (Central Library)

All of this material is located on the 2nd floor of the Central Library and is for reference use only. Please ask reference desk staff for details. Examples of this type of material include:

Maps. General street maps are held behind the 2nd floor Enquiries desk. However the library also has a collection of heritage maps which show how Wellington has developed over the decades. Many of these are fragile so can only be viewed under supervision.

Photographs. The library has a collection of heritage photographs that cover both the central city and individual suburbs. Though the Library does not have reproduction rights over some of these, staff can advise customers where photographic copies can be obtained.

Resource Consents. Publicly notified resource consents are available to view up until the closing date for submissions. After that time, resource consents can still be viewed at the City Council's main office.

Wellington City Council Material. The library keeps copies of the WCC's District plan (& variations), Annual Plans, Annual Reports, old WCC Year Books, and much more.

Newspapers. The library has copies of The Evening Post and The Dominion on microfilm going back to their first issue (1865 and 1907 respectively), as well as other Wellington based newspapers which are now no longer being published. There is also a large collection of newspaper clippings going back to the 1940s arranged by subject.

Wellington newspapers are available online. If you want to search back issues, try ProQuest ANZ Newsstand, which has The Dominion and The Evening Post back to 1996. If you want to browse historical papers, visit Papers Past; if you want to read the latest news, visit our Newspapers page. These sites are accessible on computers outside of the library and the library's free internet PCs.

Online. You can search for Wellington information via our online resources at mygateway.info. Wellington City Council's website is another valuable resource. To access these pages, you must be using one of our free internet PCs or a computer outside of the library.

Other Sources

Wellington City Archives
The City Archives has one best collections of primary source material about Wellington. Their large holdings include heritage and aerial photographs, building plans, vintage maps of Wellington, and files going back to the 19th Century which cover every aspect of Wellington's urban development imaginable. Visit their website on a free public access PC in any site.

The National Library and the Alexander Turnbull Library
As well as their famous collection of rare books, the Turnbull Library has an extensive collection of heritage photographs and personal papers from many of Wellington's famous historical figures.

The Museum of Wellington City and Sea
Located on Queens Warf, not only does the Museum of Wellington City & Sea offer fascinating displays, they also have an extensive collection of primary source material covering Wellington's maritime and early immigrant history. Much of this material may only be viewed by appointment, so please make contact before visiting if you are interested in researching their holdings.

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