The Maitland Robinson Library

The College library can now provide a 'Request & Collect' service for members to access our holdings. Please see full details here. 

New students

Please see our new induction videos to help you make use of your College library:
Finding books (including getting the right details to Request & Collect library books)
Using the self-issue machine (remember library access is currently only through pre-booked study spaces)

Library access during Michaelmas Term 2020

The College library can now provide a Request & Collect service for members to access our holdings.  We can also offer a limited number of bookable library study spaces.  Library access is only permitted when pre-booked and study spaces can be booked through the facility booker on the College intranet.  You are required to follow current guidance including wearing a mask at all times whilst in the library and keeping the window open adjacent your study space.  Please be aware that the library will be colder than usual due to this necessary ventilation.

Holiday borrowing

Unusually this Michaelmas term Downing College library will allow renewals straight through into holiday borrowing.  (There will be no ‘Return of all books day’.)

If you have any concerns that there will not be enough copies of certain books available for vacation borrowing please get in touch as soon as possible (emailing:, so we can try to acquire extra copies in time.

Books renewed or borrowed from 18 November onwards will next be due for return or renewal on Monday 25 January 2021 (the first Monday of Lent full term).

Outstanding loans

Library books can be returned to the front window of the library (to the right of the main front door) during staffed hours, and to the Downing Porters' Lodge outside of these times.  

2020 leavers please see below.


You will not be liable for any fines that may have accrued over the closure period.  Fines accrued from 12 October 2020 onwards will be applicable. 

2020 leavers

The University Library is now offering a freepost library returns service for leavers still in the UK.  Loans from any of the Cambridge University and College libraries can be returned this way.  If you have now left the University and are unable to return to Cambridge, you can request a pre-paid returns label to return your books by freepost.

No special arrangements for returns from outside of the UK are currently in place but please check this page and/or UL information for updates in the coming weeks.

Further information and help

The building

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 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.


  • 'Cataloguing’ status books: you can borrow these through our Request & Collect service but please make sure you mention the status in your request email.  These books are still being processed but we will make them available for you as soon as possible.  There are many books in the process of cataloguing and it is useful to know which ones to prioritise for you!
  • The library welcomes purchase recommendations for books for your studies.  Email the College Librarian: with as much detail as you can including, author, title, edition, date of publication and publisher.  If you find that many of your core texts are not held by the library it may be useful to send us your reading list, if possible letting us know how many Downing students are taking the paper.
  • We have a number of ex-library and donated books that are free to collect.  You will find them in the out-of-use study spaces to the left as you come into the library through the revolving doors. 

Computer facilities

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

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

Due to coronavirus restrictions no other IT facilities are currently available for use within the library. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Borrowing and renewals

The pre-set borrowing limit is 20 books but this can be manually exceeded by staff. 

During full term the loan period is two weeks (until 'return of all books day' each term, see below). Books can also be borrowed over the vacations and are then due on the first Monday of 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.  Fines are charged at £1 per book per week, and go on to your College bill.

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

Where in-demand books are required over the vacation, advance notice to the library can be helpful in ensuring there are enough copies for everyone.  Please email the College Librarian as early as possible:

Unless you have made arrangements in advance (emailing, please return all loans by the last Wednesday of full term, ‘return of all books day’.  Holiday borrowing will begin the following morning at 10am and holiday loans will be due for renewal on the first Monday of the following full term.

Opening times

Access is only currently permitted with a study space booking.  You can book a study space on the College intranet.  Spaces are available 24 hours a day – access is with a valid University card.

Request & Collect books can be collected from the library window (to the right of the front door) 10.30am-4.30pm weekdays.