Wellington Libraries

The days of reverent silence and shushing librarians are definitely a thing of the past – and Monty Masseurs, one of Wellington libraries' collection development team, is the perfect example of that.

Monty Masseurs Library Collection Development
Wellington Libraries' Monty Masseurs

Not only do the Council’s 12 libraries have massive collections of books, but they also have access to online heritage projects, electronic databases, plus huge collections of CDs, DVDs, comics, print and digital magazines, audio books, eBooks, and zines (independently made publications with a small run which can be anything from works of art to comics to poetry to political tracts).

“It’s remarkable what our customers have access to now compared to what they used to have on offer, but we have to provide a comprehensive service to be able to be relevant to our users, which is why we have eBooks,” admits Monty. “We also promote them and have tutorials, support teams, and ‘how to’ download sessions.”

In the past year there has been a 65% increase in issues of eBooks and digital audiobooks from the 15,000 eBooks and 5,500 digital audiobook collections, but there has only been a slight decline in book issues.

A main event coming up on the library calendar is ZineFest which has been supported by the Council since it was first established in 2007 – and Monty is charged with preparing library involvement in the event happening at James Cabaret on the 22nd of November.

Monty is also busy planning 2015’s ComicFest following the success of this year’s event – which he counts as one of the highlights of his career.

“ComicFest was great – we had talks with comic book writers, comic drawing workshops, costume competitions, and all sorts of comic associated activities. It was also great working as a team with such a cross section of people from the library, plus other partners like the NZ book council, GRAPHIC comic store, and Unity Books, making it such a successful event.”

He has big plans for next year’s ComicFest so watch this space which will once again coincide with Free Comic Book Day on the first Saturday of May every year.

Monty has been at the library for eight years, ending up there because he wanted a job that involved his main passions books and music, and the library had those in abundance.

Starting as a Children & Young Persons team member he eventually moved onto collections but still has some library involvement with young people every week.

“I like my job because of the variety, and the split between my desk job from the collections perspective, and interaction with customers, plus my pre-school story time at Karori.

“I usually take my ukulele along to get the kids up dancing, but it’s often the parents, grandparents, and nannies that really get into the swing of things,” he laughs.

Although you don’t necessarily need qualifications to work at the library they do help you to advance further, advises Monty.

“I got a library diploma a few years ago, but it’s more important to be a people person and to be friendly – you don’t even have to love books, but it helps!”

The main Wellington library has hundreds of thousands of books in its collection, and Monty is proud of his 1,000 or so at home, although since becoming a father his book buying days have diminished a bit.

“When my first kid came along I couldn’t afford to buy as many books as I used to so now I’m not only a library employee, but also one of its biggest users!”

Monty believes libraries are important for many reasons: “It’s crucial for children’s development to have constant exposure to books as a good foundation for life, and libraries mean they’re free and available to everyone – it’s also a great means of escape for adults, and of course it’s good for the brain too.”

There are also regular classes each week for school students to learn how to use the library – incorporating quizzes and games to make it fun and interesting.

“Libraries are more about the community – they have community events, spaces available for community use, and they’re evolving so you can use the library on your own terms.

“Librarians no longer decide what’s good for the community, it’s the other way round now.”