The Maitland Robinson Library

The Downing College library catalogue is available to Downing members online: (Raven login required).  ​

Reduced staffing over the Easter holidays

There will be minimal library staffing with varied staff hours during the following dates:
Tuesday 4th - Tuesday 18th April inclusive
including no staff at all on Tuesday 4th and the bank holidays:
Friday 7th and Monday 10th April.

You can continue to contact us via: which will be checked when staff are available.

Sorry for any inconvenience.

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 that there are windows open in the vicinity of occupied study spaces.
  • 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: (a Raven password is required).  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'.  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: 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.
  • We have a number of ex-library and donated books that are free to collect.  You will find them to the right 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.
  • There are MCS computers on the ground and first floors (two on each floor).
  • 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.

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) 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:

2020 leavers

The University Library is 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.

Further information and help

Staff are available by email as usual.  For general enquiries please use:
The wider University library network continues to offer a wealth of resources and support.