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Welcome to Girton College Library

On this page you can find all you need to know about Girton College Library, along with information about other libraries in Cambridge and electronic resources you can use anywhere.


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About Girton's Library

Girton is one of the largest College libraries within the University, offering wonderful and varied study spaces and knowledgeable staff to help you make the most of our resources. All students, staff and Fellows of the College are welcome to use our facilities and expertise.

The Library is staffed throughout its opening hours so there is always someone here to help.

Using the College Library

The Main Library is open to current members of Girton College, and to others by special arrangement:

Full Term

  • Monday – Sunday: 9.00am – 11.00pm

Outside Full Term:

  • Monday – Friday: 9.00 am – 5.00 pm (Extended to 9 pm for three weeks of the Easter Vacation)
  • During the summer vacation, the Library is closed over lunch.

Late Summer Closure:

  • The Main Library closes for two weeks in late summer. Details will be posted on Library noticeboards and on the "Library News" section of the website during the Long Vacation.

Summer Visits:

  • If you plan to visit the Library during the summer, please contact them in advance at phone 01223 338970 or email, as sometimes it is necessary to close at short notice.

Archive and Special Collections:

  • Anyone wishing to use the Archive or Special Collections should note that there are separate opening hours.

Study Rooms:

  • Study rooms D33, D34, D35, and the Middle & Top Chapel Wing Reading Rooms are available but must be pre-booked.

Postgraduate Only Study Room:

  • There is also a study room for Postgraduates only (F.40), which must be pre-booked.


Main Library (McMorran Library):

The Main Library, sometimes called the McMorran Library, is on the main College site. It holds books in all the subjects covered by the Cambridge Tripos although generally with an emphasis on the needs of Part I. It also contains a variety of types of study space as well as a large IT Resources Area. The Main Library is spread over two storeys, referred to as the Lower Library and Upper Library. It has a three-storey Extension on one side and the modern Duke Building on the other. The Duke Building also contains a purpose-built store for the Archive and the Special Collections.

Group Study Rooms:

  • Group study rooms D33, D34, and D35 are located on the main College site in the nearby Hyphen corridor.

Reading Rooms:

  • The Middle & Top Chapel Wing Reading Rooms are located in the Chapel Wing.

Postgraduate Study Room:

  • The Postgraduate Study Room F40 is situated on the F corridor, near the Library.

As a member of Girton College you are welcome to book to use any or all of these library facilities. However, anyone who is not a member of Girton needs to arrange their visit with the Librarian or, if using the Archive, the Archivist.


Girton College Library aims to stock as much as possible of the recommended reading for Part I of your Tripos. We do hold books to support later years but as you become more specialised you will increasingly need to use other libraries. However if there is a book that you think we should have, you are very welcome to recommend it to us for purchase (we shall need to check with your Director of Studies first as budgets are limited).

Please, use the catalogue (described below) to check which items we have, where we have classified them and whether they are available for loan. If you have problems finding anything, please do not hesitate to ask.

Lower Library





Philosophy; Theology; Economics; Social sciences; History, Mathematics; Computer sciences; Physical sciences; Geography; Land economy; Archaeology; Anthropology; Engineering; Life Sciences; Art; Architecture; Music; Italian and Spanish languages and literatures; Linguistics; DVDs
Upper Library800-899 (excluding:  800A-F and 850-869)Literary theory; English; French and German languages and literatures; Classics
Extension: Ground Floor100-399Law; material on Cambridge University; historic philosophy and theology journals
Extension: Floors 1 and 2AllAnglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic; Asian & Middle Eastern studies; Slavonic studies; overspill of Lower and Upper Library collections

Journals or periodicals

Current issues of the hard-copy journals to which Girton subscribes can be found in the periodical display racks in the Lower and Upper Libraries. Back runs of all the law journals and some history, philosophy and theology journals are held in the Extension, and these may be borrowed overnight. Back runs of all other journals, bound or unbound, are stored in other rooms.


DVD cases are displayed near the catalogue computers; please ask at the issue desk for the disks themselves. They can be played on the computers in the IT Resources Area (using headphones) or borrowed on the same basis as books, with each disk counting towards the total of 10 items that you can have on loan at any time. For copyright reasons the Library’s DVDs are for personal use only and should not be used for performances.

Tripos papers (reference only)

Bound volumes of University examination papers (1986 onwards) are kept at the bottom of the staircase linking the Lower and Upper Libraries.

Study guides

There is a small collection of study guides in the stairwell near the Tripos volumes. These can be borrowed in the same way as the other books in the Library’s collections. Online advice about study skills can be found on Moodle.

Counselling guides

There is a collection of counselling guides also in the stairwell near the Tripos volumes. These cover a wide range of personal issues and may be borrowed confidentially and anonymously.

Books rests, whiteboards and USB-fans

You can borrow book rests, hand-held white boards and mini USB-fans for use within the Library only. These can be found on the large table near the entrance; please make sure that you disinfect any item that you use before and after you use it, replacing it on the table where you found it.

Using the catalogue to find items

All books and DVDs in the Main Library are catalogued on Girton’s own library catalogue (Heritage). The catalogue is available from the Library’s website. When searching Girton’s catalogue you can make your search as broad or as specific as you wish. For example, if you want to search for a specific book, you could combine a word from the author’s name with a word from the title by using AND in between; e.g. chaucer AND canterbury or voet AND biochemistry. There are also guided and advanced search options. Help with searching the catalogue is available on the Library’s website or ask a member of the Library team.

You can use the iDiscover catalogue to find out if other libraries in the University hold the items you are looking for. iDiscover lets you search simultaneously not only for print items held in libraries within the University but also the content of the electronic resources (ebooks, ejournals and databases) to which the University subscribes and the open access items in the University’s repository. Most of Girton’s holdings are listed in iDiscover; this includes everything we have bought since January 1998 in all subjects plus all older books in Anthropology, Archaeology, Economics, English, French, Geography, History, Law, Politics, and Spanish; we are gradually adding more. However, iDiscover will not tell you if Girton’s copy is on loan or not, so we always advise you to double-check using our own catalogue.

Please do not lend items that you have borrowed to friends from this or other colleges. Items can be lost and you remain responsible for paying the fines or, if necessary, for a replacement copy.

PINs, enabling you to reserve items or renew loans via the Girton Library catalogue, are available on request – please ask at the issue desk during office hours or email


Students may borrow up to 10 standard loan items from the Main Library for 14 days during Full Term. At the end of Full Term up to 10 standard loan items may be borrowed for the length of the vacation.

If you have booked to use the Library, please bring the items you wish to borrow to the issue desk together with your University Card. Alternatively, please use the “click & collect” service.

Loans should be returned via drop boxes outside the Library, or at the Issue Desk.

Books in the other study rooms are reference only and are not to be removed.


You can renew standard loan items up to two times during Full Term. You can do this online via the Girton library catalogue if you have a PIN, or by emailing the Library or by phoning 01223 338970.

Full information about how to renew books online can be found in the eGuides section of our website. You should note that vacation loans cannot be renewed, nor can any items that are already overdue or have been reserved by someone else. If you have already renewed the same item three times, please return it to the Library for 24 hours before borrowing it again.

Overnight loan

Items can be borrowed only after 9pm or 30 minutes before closing, whichever is earlier. They must be returned on the next day on which the Library is open. The purpose of overnight loan copies is to ensure that key texts are available in the Library throughout the day; if there is something that is in heavy demand and needs to be put on overnight loan, please let us know.


If an item that you want to use or borrow is on loan to someone else, you can reserve it. When that item has been returned to the Library, we will arrange for you to collect it from the Porters’ Lodge . You can reserve items yourself via the Girton Library catalogue if you have a PIN. If you don’t have a PIN or if you need the item before it is due to be returned, please fill in a printed reservation form and give it to a member of the Library team. Please note that we may not be able to retrieve the item in time if your deadline is very tight.

If you have another session booked in the Library within 3 days and wish to use continue using the same library books without borrowing them, please fill in a “please leave” slip and put both the books and the slip onto one of the designated “please leave” trolleys.

You can use the iDiscover catalogue to search for both print and electronic resources.

As a member of the University of Cambridge and thanks to subscriptions paid by the University of Cambridge, you have access to over 100,000 electronic journals (usually called ejournals or e-journals) and around 1.5 million electronic books (ebooks or e-books), databases and subscription-only web sites. Some of these can only be used on specific computers in specific libraries elsewhere in the University but many can be accessed from anywhere using your Raven password. More information about these resources can be found via the University Library.

Library staff are on hand to advise on all aspects of the use of electronic resources – from finding information, to evaluating it, and finally citing it in your work. You can book one-to-one training sessions with us or just come and find us when you need us. There is also a lot of information on our website tailored to your specific needs, see the library's information for current members.

The IT Resources Area in the Main Library offers access to the University’s Desktop Services network. There are 8 networked computers, a laser printer and a DS printer. You will need your UIS/Raven password. From these computers you can gain access to:

  • Electronic resources – including bibliographic and full-text databases, electronic journals and ebooks
  • a wide range of software
  • the Desktop Services central filestore (known as DS-Filestore) – to save and store your work so that you can access it from elsewhere
  • Girton Library catalogue (Heritage) and the catalogues of other libraries within the university (iDiscover)
  • Printers – 4p per side for black and white, 15p per side for colour. You can find out more about paying for printer credit online at

Please note that the IT Resources Area is one of the busiest parts of the Library, as well as being close to the issue desk and the staff offices. A certain amount of noise is to be expected in this area.


WiFi is available throughout the Library (apart from the Extension) using UniOfCam and/or Eduroam. A Raven password is required.

In addition to the Library’s facilities, there are other study rooms on the main site. 

  • D33 (Hyphen corridor) is a group study room for two people. It features an interactive whiteboard
  • D34 (Hyphen corridor) is a group study room for up to three people.  It also contains a small collection of general books.
  • D35 (Hyphen corridor) is a group study room for up to four people. It features an interactive whiteboard.
  • Middle & Top Chapel Wing study rooms are both quiet study rooms.

The primary function of these study rooms is to provide study space. No borrowing is allowed from any of these rooms. If you need to make a special arrangement, please contact the Librarian and your Director of Studies to discuss the matter.

Please help us to protect these facilities for fellow members of the College by using the study rooms responsibly. Please pay regard to security and personal safety and do not admit anyone who is not a member of Girton. Please contact the Porters’ Lodge if you have any security concerns or contact the Library to discuss any other aspect.


Please do:

  • Ask us if you have any questions or need advice
  • Turn your mobile phone to silent when you come into the Library
  • Return your loans on time
  • Take all your rubbish away with you after using the Library or study rooms

Please don’t:

  • Bring food or drink, other than bottles of water or hot drinks in keep-cups, into the Library or the study rooms
  • Mark, annotate or in any way deface library materials

We welcome feedback and recommendations of all kinds. Some of our popular recent initiatives – including stocking book rests, fans and whiteboards – were the results of student suggestions. Recommendations for book purchase can be made using the printed forms in the Library or the online version on our website. All book recommendations are subject to the approval of your Director of Studies.

If you would like to make comments or suggestions, please come and talk to the Librarian or another member of the Library team. Additionally, the JCR and MCR are represented on the College’s Education Board, which meets once a term to discuss matters of general policy, including that of the Library.

The Library & Archive building itself has level access throughout its ground floor, with a mixture of hard flooring, carpet tiles and a rug. We regret that there is no hearing loop and no lift access to the upper floors.

There is level access to toilet facilities. One cubicle is currently only available for hand-washing and access to drinking water. An accessible cubicle with a baby-changing unit is available for use by all.

Please see the College's accessibility guide for more information.

Other libraries in the University of Cambridge

There are over 100 libraries within the University of Cambridge and the colleges, which together form one of the most comprehensive information resources of any university. But how do you know which ones are right for you?

Each college has a library for its students. Some are larger than others and Girton’s is one of the larger libraries. Most college libraries are for use only by members of that college and this is also true for Girton. So please don’t bring non-Girton students into the Library at Girton and make sure that you ask permission of another college’s librarian before using that library.

At Girton, our main focus is on undergraduate needs and we aim to stock as much as possible of the recommended books for Part I of your Tripos. As you become more specialised, you will increasingly need to use other libraries. However, if there is a book that you think we should have, you are very welcome to recommend it to us for purchase.

The majority of departments have their own libraries. Depending on your subject, you might have one department/faculty library where you spend a lot of time (e.g. the Seeley History Library, if you are studying history) or you might have several (e.g. if you are studying medicine).  Each library has its own rules and different opening hours.

You can find out more about each library using the libraries directory.

Most department/faculty libraries usually admit members of the University that are studying other subjects and some also let them borrow. Please note that many libraries will be operating under restrictions for the academic year 2020-21 and you should check before visiting any library you are not familiar with.

All members of the University can use the UL and most can borrow its books. It is a library of legal deposit, which means it is entitled to claim a copy of every book published in the UK, sometimes in hard-copy, sometimes in electronic form. All new undergraduate, postgraduate students are registered with the UL so you don’t need to apply to join. You no longer need to book to study, browse or borrow in the UL - unless you are wanting to view Special Collections or other non-borrowable material. An outline of their current policies can be found on their website. 

You can find out more about the UL from its website.

Tours of the UL can be booked via

You can use iDiscover to find out which libraries hold the items you’re looking for. For help using iDiscover, see our eGuide: iDiscover.

Most of Girton’s holdings are listed in iDiscover. All of Girton’s holdings are listed in our own catalogue (Heritage). Use it to see if books are already on loan, see which items you have borrowed from Girton and renew them. You can reserve items that are on loan to someone else.

Help using Girton’s catalogue is available in our various eGuides

We understand that everyone has their unique preferences when it comes to studying—whether it's through books, computers, or a combination of both; in a serene, quiet environment or a more social and lively one. We are committed to assisting you in discovering the ideal study space that suits your needs and preferences.

For additional options, you can also explore Spacefinder to discover more study spaces elsewhere.

Student in the Library's IT Area

Library catalogue

Girton’s own library catalogue, contains information about our books, journals and DVDs, including whether they are on loan, or not. See which items you already have on loan and renew them, or reserve items that are on loan to someone else (PIN required).

  • For help and guidance on using the catalogue see our library eGuides
  • If you want to request the Library purchases something (books, DVDs, etc.) that we don’t already have in stock, please submit a purchase recommendation.

The iDiscover catalogue contains information about the holdings of all the libraries within the University, including most of Girton’s holdings.

CamGuides Logo


CamGuides is a set of resources for students beginning undergraduate, or taught Master's, degrees at the University of Cambridge. There are two separate versions:

Using the Archive

Please see separate information about the services currently offered by Girton College Archive.

Library Guides

We have wide range of guides for College members to use

Find out more