Library guide: our collections and services

Last updated: November 2019

PDF version of this guide to Girton College Library

Welcome to Girton College Library

We have 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.

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 our website, email us at 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

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 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 on 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.


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 Library000-799;



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 850-869)

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 the Library’s website – and 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; 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 available on the ground floor and 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 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.

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

You can renew standard loan items up to 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 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.

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

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 Raven 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

The IT Resources Area in the Main Library offers access to the University’s Desktop Services network. There are 16 networked computers, a black-and-white laser printer and a colour laser 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 pay for printer credit online at

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

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. All four rooms are available for use 24 hours a day.

The primary function of these study rooms is to provide study space. The Chapel Wing Reading Room holds the Bohunka Bradbrook collection of English language and literature texts. There is also a small general collection of books in D34.  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

Please don’t:

  • Bring food or drink, other than bottles of water or other drinks in Girton-branded keep-cups, into the Library or the study rooms
  • 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, 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 Library Committee, which meets once a year to discuss matters of general policy.

Further information about the Library

Jenny Blackhurst
t: +44 (0) 1223 338970