The Maitland Robinson Library

The Downing College library catalogue is available to Downing members online:  ​

New library users

Library staff will be very happy to show you how to find and borrow books in the library, as well as use of various library facilities.  More thorough library inductions can also be arranged; please ask staff or email:

Library access

  • Access is available 24/7 for Downing members with a valid University card. 
  • Core staffed hours are Monday to Friday, 10.30am-4.30pm (usually longer in practice). Hours may vary outside of full term. 
  • Non-Downing members are not permitted to use the library.  Please do not encourage or enable non-members to occupy the limited study spaces available. 
  • Please ensure you take all your belongings with you when you vacate the library study spaces. 
  • The Request & Collect service remains available to all students (Screen reader friendly details here). Books are collected from the library window (to the right of the front door) Monday to Friday, 10.30am-4.30pm. 
  • Short library induction tours can be arranged by speaking to library staff or emailing  Individuals or small groups (especially tripos-based) are welcome to prearrange tours.  Drop-in inductions are often possible during staffed hours, please ask. Our online guides to finding books, using the self-service machine, and library accessibility may also be of 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. Non-Downing guests are not permitted to use the library.

See our library map.

Read our accessibility guide.

The library catalogue

The library catalogue can be accessed via the OPACs (online public access catalogues) in the library and it is also available online: When searching the catalogue use Boolean operators (AND, OR, NOT) to increase search results and for greater precision.

To view and renew your current loans you will need your 'Reader code' and your PIN. The Reader code is on the back of your University card beneath the barcode. You should have received a PIN by email from  

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: can be borrowed; please ask staff (or mention the status when you request through our Request & Collect service (screen reader friendly details here).  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.

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.
  • A combined printer, photocopier and scanner (multi-function device, or MFD) is located in the basement book stacks. Further information on the MFD is available here or there are library produced instructions for use on the table as you come in the main door.
  • There are computers available to work at in the library and in the computer room.  These are part of the University Managed Desktop (UMD) service.

Borrowing and renewals

The pre-set borrowing limit is 20 books but this can be manually exceeded by staff. The standard loan period is two weeks during term time; loans are indefinitely renewable unless reserved by another borrower. Items borrowed for or during the vacation are due on the first Monday of the following full term.      

Books can be renewed online through the library catalogue (using your ‘Reader code’, under the barcode on the reverse of your University card, and your PIN sent to you by email from 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. (If you don't have your PIN please speak to library staff or email us:  

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:

Further information and help

Enquiries can be directed to library staff in person or by email to:

The University Library (UL) offers a wealth of resources.
Cambridge LibGuides can help you navigate the many services and facilities offered. 
You can develop your skills and enhance your learning experience through the study skills catalogue.