The Maitland Robinson Library

The Downing College library catalogue can be accessed online:  

Holiday borrowing now active

All current Downing library loans should now have a due date of 11 October, covering the summer break. (The due date will reflect your account expiry date if earlier.)

Library staff will be happy to provide you with any library books you want through the Request & Collect service.  No limits on borrowing will be applied: please request as many books as you would like to borrow. 

Library access remains restricted to those with pre-booked study spaces only.  If you wish to browse the library books for self-selection please contact staff ( so we can make suitable arrangements for you.  (NB: if borrowing using the self-issue machine, loans will be capped at 20 items.  Staff will be happy to override this restriction on request). 


Library access - 24/7 bookings from 24 May

  • Starting at 8am on Monday 24 May, pre-booked study spaces will be available 24 hours a day. Please remember that advance booking is still required and library access is only permitted with a booking.
  • Spaces can be booked through the College’s facilities booker.  Library access is only permitted for the duration of your booking and study spaces are for single occupancy only.  Entering the library building without a booking is prohibited; this will be monitored.
  • Please note that you are required to wear a face mask at all times in the library building.  Whilst seated at your study space you must keep the adjacent window open.  (Please be aware that the library will be colder than usual due to this necessary ventilation.)
  • The Request & Collect service remains available to all students and is still the best way to borrow Downing library books. Books are collected from the library window (to the right of the front door) Monday to Friday, 10.30am-4.30pm. 

Outstanding loans

Library books can be returned to the book drop box when it is outside (at the front of the library next to the Request & Collect window to the right of the main door), usually 10.30am-4.30pm Monday to Friday.  If staff are present returns can be passed through the window.  The Downing Porters will accept book returns outside of these times.  

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

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.

The library catalogue

The library catalogue can be accessed 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: you can borrow these through our Request & Collect service but please make sure you mention the status in your request email.  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 in the out-of-use study spaces to the left 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.
  • Due to coronavirus restrictions no other IT facilities are currently available for use within the library. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

Borrowing and renewals

The pre-set borrowing limit is 20 books but this can be manually exceeded by staff. 

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: