Making the most of your visit
Tips for researchers and visitors to the Library
Planning some research? Use our online resources or visit us to get started. The following tips will help you make the most of our collections and resources.
We are a reference library
It's important to understand that we aren't a public library. We are a reference library. You can use collection items in our reading rooms but not take them home. However, many items in our collections can be borrowed by interloan through your local library.
We are also a closed stack library, meaning our collection storage areas cannot be visited by the public. So it is important to use our catalogue and other resources to help you find what you want.
Read this page to find out more about finding material to help you with your research.
Check our opening hours
Before you come check our opening hours. Making sure we are open when you want to conduct your research is essential getting off to a good start.
Reading rooms hours
Monday to Friday — 10am to 5pm
Saturday — 9am to 1pm
National Library hours
Monday to Friday — 9am to 5pm
Saturday — 9am to 1pm
Remember we are not open on public holidays.
Register as a Reader
Some collection items are available for reference use in the Reading Rooms, and other materials can be ordered in, several times a day.
Registering as a Reader is essential to be able to request collection items. If you are planning a visit you can register online before you leave home. This can be a great time saver and allows you to request material and have it waiting for you when you arrive.
Bring some photo ID when you visit the library.
Check our collection delivery times
Not all our items are stored onsite at the Library and advance notice may be required for particular items. Collection items are brought to the Reading Rooms throughout the day Monday to Friday. We don't deliver material on weekends.
If you are ordering items from our collections for your visit on Saturday, plan ahead and order them before 4pm on Friday. Orders made on Saturday won't be delivered until Monday.
Check availability of the collection
Sometimes, items in our collections are unavailable. By checking the online catalogue in advance, and requesting material before your visit, you can ensure that it will be here waiting for you when you arrive.
Some Alexander Turnbull Library collections have access restrictions and require permission to be viewed. Access restrictions are noted on the catalogues. There is a process for requesting access to an item if it is restricted. Timeframes vary depending on the type of restriction. So keep this in mind when you are planning your visit.
Find collection items right now
The Library has collected New Zealand and Pacific material for decades, to provide you with an unparalleled resource for research. We are constantly adding to the collections through donations, bequests, purchases, and Legal Deposit.
Search the collections and our catalogues to find the records of material you want to view in the Library. Getting the information before you come saves time and helps you narrow down what you’re looking for.
National Library collection
The National Library collection holds nearly everything published in and about New Zealand and also has large Pacific collections. The collections include books, magazines, microfilm, videos, databases and more.
Alexander Turnbull Library collection
The Alexander Turnbull Library collection is built on the original documentary collections of Alexander Horsburgh Turnbull and includes many unique published and unpublished items from throughout New Zealand’s history.
Available material includes books, maps, serials, newspapers, music, websites, oral histories, manuscripts, photographs, paintings, and more.
Free and subscription online resources
Expand your research into national and international databases and have a look at free and subscription online resources available from the library. This gives you access to a wide range of journals, magazines, and other electronic publications.
Some resources are only available from inside the Library Reading Rooms, but you can get search results and abstracts before your visit.
View digital collections online
Many collection items — including lots of images, newspapers, and music tracks – are available by searching on our website.
You will need to be in the Library to view some digital material, including restricted images and oral histories. If you can’t see something, grab the reference number, send us an enquiry through 'Ask a librarian' or come on in.
Use our research guides and other research resources
We've got lots of great material that can help you with your research. They include:
Need research advice
Want a hand getting your research started? Need one more ridiculously obscure item to finish it up? Staff at the Library can help you out when you visit, or you can ask right now with the Ask a Librarian service.
Send us your research query, however general or specific, and you’ll get a response from the most suitable staff member within 10 days.
When you visit the Library, you’ll be able to talk to research specialists who can help you hone your enquiries and find the right material. You can have a full research interview or just ask a quick question. We are happy to help.
If you've found material that is useful for your research you can make research copies of most items unless they need protection due to copyright or fragility.
You can use your digital camera, or ask our staff for help making copies.
Take a break while you're here
You might want to take a break from your research while you are here. Check out our events and exhibitions. You could also catch up with friends at the National Library's cafe — HOME.
Still not sure
We know there is a lot to take in. If you need help with any of our services or collections contact us through our Ask a Librarian service or phone us on 0800 474 300.
We hope you enjoy your visit.