Jenny Blackhurst


t. 01223 338970

Library guide: our collections and services

PDF version of Library guide

Contents of this guide

Welcome to Girton College Library

Where to find us

Opening hours (opens a different page on the Library website)

What we stock and how to find it

Borrowing, renewing, reserving, fines

Electronic resources

IT Resources Area

Other Study Rooms in College

Archive (opens a different page on the Library website)

Special collections (opens a different page on the Library website)

A few dos and don'ts

Floor plans of the Main Library

Staff and contact details (opens a different page on the Library website)


Welcome to Girton College Library

Girton has 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.

There are over 100 libraries within the University. To find out more about the different types of library and how Girton's Library fits in, please have a look at this website, email us at JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING or come and ask one of us. The Library is staffed throughout its opening hours so there is always someone here to help.

We look forward to meeting you all in the Library!

Best wishes,

The Library Team


Where to find us

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 but 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 and a Group Study Room. 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 to the other. The Duke Building also contains a purpose-built store for the Archive and the Special Collections.

Also on the main College site, there are a variety of other study rooms, accessible 24 hours a day. Rooms D33 and D35 on nearby Hyphen corridor are group study rooms, whereas D34 and the Chapel Wing Reading Room (on E corridor) are larger rooms suitable for quiet study.

As a member of Girton College, you are welcome 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. College you are welcome 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 Acting Librarian or, if using the Archive, the Archivist.


What we stock and how to find it


Girton College Library aims to stock as much as possible of the recommended reading 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; 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.

Location Classmark Subjects
Lower Library 000-799; 850-860; 800A-F 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 Library 800-899 (excluding 800A-F and 850-860) Literary theory; English; French and German languages and literatures; Classics
Extension: Ground Floor 100-399 Law; material on Cambridge University; historic philosophy and theology journals
Extension: Floors 1 and 2 All Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic; Asian & Middle Eastern studies; Slavonic studies; overspill of Lower and Upper Library collections

Journals or periodicals (reference only)

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 off-site.


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. 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 our eGuides page and also via Girton's study skills page 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 and whiteboards

You can borrow book rests and hand-held whiteboards for use within the Library; please ask at the issue desk.

Using the catalogue to find items

All books and DVDs in the Main Library are catalogued on Girton's own library catalogue (Heritage). There are catalogue computers, colloquially known as OPACs, available on the ground floor. The catalogue is also 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 use a word from the author's name AND a word from the title; e.g. chaucer AND canterbury or voet AND biochemistry. There are also guided and advanced search options. Help with searching the catalogue is available at eGuide: Searching for books using library catalogues or please 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.


Borrowing, renewing, reserving, fines

Students may borrow up to 10 standard loan items from the Main Library for 7 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. Please bring the items you wish to borrow to the issue desk together with your University Card. Loans can be returned to the issue desk or, if the Library is closed, left in the drop box outside. All the books in the external study rooms are reference only and are not to be removed.

You can renew standard loan items three times during Full Term. You can do this online via the Girton library catalogue if you have a PIN, or by emailing the Library at JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING or by phoning 01223 338970. Full information about how to renew books online can be found at eGuide: Renewing items using the Girton Library Catalogue. You should note that vacation loans cannot be renewed, nor can any items that are already overdue or have been reserved by someone else.

Fines for overdue standard loan items are 50 pence per item per day. Fines must be paid before further borrowing is permitted but fines of £1 or over can be added to your College Bill. Please note that you cannot use your University Card to pay library fines at Girton.  

Overnight loan items can be borrowed only after 9pm or 30 minutes before closing, whichever is earlier. They must be returned within the first half hour of opening on the next day on which the Library is open. Fines for overnight loan items are 50 pence per hour, up to a maximum of £5 per day. 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 put it to one side for you and email you to say that it is ready. 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.

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 JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING .


Electronic resources

Libraries don't just stock hard copies of items. Increasingly, you will find that some items only exist electronically but, for the most part, it is up to you how you wish to study and whether you prefer to use print copies or electronic copies.  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 UIS password. More information about these resources can be found via the University Library at

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


IT Resources Area

The IT Resources Area in the Library offers access to computers connected to the university's Desktop Services network.  You will need your UIS/Raven password, which you will receive just before you come up to Cambridge. From these computers you will gain access to:

  • electronic resources – including bibliographic and full-text databases, electronic journals and ebooks – see for more information about using these
  • a wide range of software
  • 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. Pay for printer credit online at

Using your own laptop or another electronic device? WiFi is available throughout the Library using the University's UniOfCam service and/or Eduroam. A UIS/Raven password is required.

The Library also has a photocopier. Please note that copyright restrictions apply to printed and electronic books or journals that you might wish to copy, scan or print; please see the poster near the photocopier for more information.

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.


Other Study Rooms in College

In addition to the Library's facilities, there are four other study rooms on the main site.  Rooms D33 and D35 on Hyphen corridor are group study rooms.  Groups of up to four people can book these rooms in advance using the booking sheets pinned to the noticeboards outside.  When not in use by groups, these rooms are available for quiet study.  Both these rooms have interactive whiteboards.  Room D34 on Hyphen Corridor and the Chapel Wing Reading Room (on E corridor) are larger rooms suitable for quiet study and do not need to be booked in advance. The Chapel Wing Reading Room will hold the Bohunka Bradbrook collection of English language and literature texts and a small general collection of books will be available in the Hyphen rooms.  All four rooms are available for use 24 hours a day.

The primary function of these study rooms is to provide quiet and pleasant study space. No borrowing is allowed from either 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 these study rooms responsibly. Please pay regard to security and personal safety and do not admit anyone who is not a member of Girton. Food and drink and smoking are not permitted.  Please contact the Porters' Lodge if you have any security concerns or contact the Library to discuss any other aspect.


A few dos and don'ts

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

Please don’t:

  • Bring food or drink, other than bottles of water, into the Library
  • Mark, annotate or in any way deface library material

We welcome feedback and recommendations of all kinds. Some of our popular recent initiatives – including stocking book rests and whiteboards – were the results of student suggestions.  Recommendations for book purchases to support Part I of your Tripos can be made using the printed forms in the Library or the online version on our website, and we shall try to buy a proportion of material for Part II as well. 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 Library Committee, which meets once a year to discuss matters of general policy.


Floor plans of the Main Library

Floor plan of the Main Library


Floor plan of the Lower Library



Floor plan of the Upper Library


























































© Girton College Library Last updated September 2017 by Kasia Drabek