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Library Guides

Library information for offer holders

Welcome to Cambridge! Library staff are looking forward to meeting you online and in person.

This page contains information to familiarise yourself with Girton College Library and libraries across Cambridge – many of these links will prove useful throughout your studies, so please bookmark it to refer back to later.

Libraries in Cambridge

Depending on your subject, you'll have one or two favourite libraries during your time in Cambridge, and your college library is likely to be one of the first you use. Cambridge has over 100 libraries and we can help you find the resources and services suited to your work, whether you’re exploring the library sites themselves or looking for support from your room or desktop. These libraries fall into three broad categories:

  1. College libraries are based within your college. This is your ‘home’ library; college libraries usually only lend books to their own students. Girton College Library is a study space for all Girton students, but its interdisciplinary collection is primarily focused on undergraduate reading lists. If you want to use another college library, you will have to contact them in advance to request an appointment. You can find contact details for all college libraries in the Libraries Directory.

  2. Subject libraries tend to be based within or near the relevant Faculty or Department. They include more specialist material for graduate students and researchers as well as undergraduate students. You can register at, and use, nearly all subject libraries. You are not restricted to using the resources and study space at your own subject library.

  3. The central University Library (or the UL) provides extensive study space, research resources, and special collections (including rare books, manuscripts, and maps). It's also home to centralised library services, such as inter-library loans and the scan & deliver service.

Borrowing rules can vary across the different libraries. You can find out more about borrowing and renewing items from Girton College Library on our main webpage and our Library Know How page. You can also find out general information about borrowing, requesting and renewing loans from other libraries. Do contact the lending library direct if you are unsure of the rules.

Libraries online

You have access to nearly a million e-books, over 100,000 e-journals, and around 900 databases. Those resources are subscribed to and managed by libraries, but they aren't divided up in the same way as physical library resources and spaces. The vast majority of electronic resource access is centralised: whichever college you’re a member of and whichever subject you’re studying, you will have access automatically via your Cambridge Raven log-in. These guides will give you more information on using ebooks and other tools for eresources. Please use this form if you would like to recommend an ebook.

Finding resources

You can start exploring which printed books are held in Girton's Library from home using our online catalogue. For help with finding, reserving and renewing items, see our eGuides webpage.

You can also look for printed books in other libraries, as well as electronic books available to everyone in the University, using the University's iDiscover catalogue. The iDiscover YouTube playlist demonstrates the basic functions of searching for books and checking your account, and the iDiscover LibGuide provides instructions on advanced searches, requests, and renewals. Many of Girton's print holdings are also included in iDiscover but using our own catalogue can be easier.

Once you have the location and classmark of the book, you'll be able to track it down in the Library. You'll also be able to access your course material via Reading Lists Online.

If you can't find the book you need, or we don’t have enough copies of it, please let us know using our purchase recommendation form.

Exploring the College Library and more

You will be invited to a tour of the Library with the other first year students in your subject — please look out for information when you arrive.

If you would like to explore Girton College Library in more detail before you arrive, you'll find more information on on our main webpage and our Library Know How page. You can find out more about the other libraries in the University using the Library Essentials LibGuide.

If you would like to explore academic life at Cambridge more generally, take a look at CamGuides. CamGuides was written by librarians (including Girton's Librarian) and will guide you through some of the academic and information practices and skills that you will need for your degree.

You can also use Girton College's accessibility guide to find out more about physical spaces within the College, including the Library, so that you know what to expect when you arrive.

Any questions?

If you have any questions or there is anything else we can do to help, please email We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

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