The Maitland Robinson Library was designed by Quinlan Terry and opened in 1993.  It is a private library, available for use by all current members of the College.

The Library catalogue

The Library catalogue can be accessed via the OPACS in the Library and it is also available online (a Raven password is required).  When searching the catalogue use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to increase search results and for greater precision.

To reserve books or view and renew your current loans you will need your 'Reader code'.  This can be found on the back of your University card under the barcode.

NB: Downing library books are NOT searchable on iDiscover but you can find a vast range of online resources (including many full text ebooks) and other information through the iDiscover portal.


  • The library is currently trialling 24/7 opening.  This means that current members of the College can gain access to the library (with a valid University card) at any time of day and night.  Library rules and restrictions continue to apply at all times.  Any feedback or comments on 24/7 opening are very welcome and can be directed to  You will also be given an opportunity to complete a questionnaire later in the term.

  • We have a number of ex-library and donated books that are free to collect.  You will find them to your right as you come into the library through the revolving doors. 
  • In response to readers’ suggestions the library has purchased a number of wooden book rests for use within the library.  You will be able to find them in the shelving units facing the lift on the ground floor (within the staff area) – do help yourself (and please box & return them when done)!

  • We are receiving various periodicals via the SCR, including The Economist, New Scientist, New Statesman, Spectator and others. These can be found on the reverse of the new books display, near the self-issue terminal - back issues can be found by lifting the display shelves.

Computer facilities

There are MCS computers on the ground and first floors (one on each floor).

Readers can bring in personal laptops. Sockets are available in the floor throughout the Library.

The Library is a wireless environment with Eduroam and UniOfCam access.

A combined printer, photocopier and scanner (multi-function device, or MFD) is located in the basement corridor. Instructions are available here or at the Library front desk.

Borrowing and renewals

The pre-set borrowing limit is 20 books; to borrow more please come to the issue desk during staffed hours.

During full term the loan period is two weeks. Books can also be borrowed over the vacations and are then due at the start of the following full term.

Books can be renewed online through the Library catalogue until they become overdue. Once the due date is passed there is a three-day grace period before fines are applied.

Please contact library staff, by email or in person, to request a renewal of overdue books. This can also be done by replying to overdue notification emails.

Renewals are not possible from full term into the vacation loan period. Please ensure books are returned before holiday borrowing starts, usually the last Thursday of full term.

Opening times

Michaelmas and Lent Full Term

Staffed hours: 9.30am – 5.30pm weekdays only

Card access: 8.30am – 2.00am

Easter Full Term

Staffed hours: 9.30am – 5.30pm weekdays only

Card access: 8.00am – 2.30am

Weekends during full term will be staffed by student library supervisors from 11.30am - 5.30pm

Certain services, such as access to locked cabinet books, are only available during staffed hours.

If the library is locked at a time when it should be accessible by card the porters will be able to let you in.

Outside Full Term, access to the library can be gained by card from 8.30am - 11.30pm, including use of self-issue and self-return facilities.  When outside of full term the library continues to be staffed for the most part between 9.30am - 5.30pm, albeit more variably.


Alumni and other visitors with an interest in the College may at times be permitted to view the building’s interior, particularly the central staircase and the archive exhibitions.  Consideration for library readers will be paramount at all times and access will be allowed only with a minimum of disruption.   University term dates can be found here, and should be taken into account when considering a visit.  Please bear in mind that it is a locked library so you will need assistance to enter.

For requests to view rare books or manuscripts, as well as any other questions and queries, please email the College Librarian, Karen Lubarr.

Library personnel

Click here for details of the Library staff.