Skip to main content
Magdalene College library - Searching and Finding

Finding and Borrowing items in the New Library

Finding and Borrowing from Magdalene College Library

Searching for a book in iDiscover

Searching for the item

The first step to finding a book in our collection is to look for it on the online Library catalogue iDiscover

iDiscover is the University-wide catalogue that includes records for the University Library, Departmental Libraries, and College Libraries (including Magdalene). iDiscover is accessible online and also through our Catalogue terminal located on the First Floor in the New Library.

Information on how to find a Magdalene book is included below but there is also a very useful LibGuide which explains how to get the most out of using iDiscover and includes several useful introductory videos.

If you have any questions about search strategies or need assistance with a particular enquiry, please ask the Library Team.

Is it available to borrow?

Once you have located a record you can check if it is available to borrow in the “Request Options” section of the record. It will show how many copies are available to borrow, in the case below it is on loan as there are ‘0’ available.

Magdalene Library Search


For further details, such as due date, click on ‘Magdalene College Library’.


Magdalene Library search further details


Magdalene Library search options


Under ‘Status’ it will tell you if it is on the shelf.

The status will be either:

  • Item in Place = Book is available on the shelf to borrow
  • On loan (with due date) = Book is out on loan to someone else
  • In Transit = The book has been recalled and is waiting to be picked up by the requester

If a book is ‘On Loan’ then you can log into your account and Recall it if you require it. Depending on who has the book they will have to return it in 3 days, excluding weekends. You will be notified when it is available.

If an item is shown as ‘Item in Place’ but is not on the shelf please let a member of the library team know, as it may have gone missing.

Finding an item on the shelves

Finding an item on the shelves

Check where the book is located in the Library

To find where a book is in the library you need to know the ‘location’ and ‘shelfmark’.

Magdalene Library search on shelf


There are a number of locations in the New Library:

Main Library: Ground, First or Second Floor of New Library

Wigglesworth Law Library and Wigglesworth Short Loan: located in the Wigglesworth Law room on the Second Floor of New Library

Oversize: Located on the Ground Floor, facing the noticeboard.

Reserve Collection: Please ask staff if you need any item of Reserve Stock.

Special Collection: Special items kept in the Group Study Room. Please ask staff to access these items.

Pepys Library: Items kept in the historic Pepys Library. Please contact the Pepys Library to request access to these items:

Old Library: Items kept in the College’s Old Library. Please contact the Old Library to request access these items:


We have two different types of shelfmark in the New Library. Once you have the shelfmark, you can locate the books via the annotated map, or by looking at the numbering on the end and top of the stacks and on the shelves.

Old style: 4.D.20

The majority of the collection follows the old style shelfmark. This consists of a number, one or more letters, and a sequential number, e.g. 4.D.20. The first number represents a broad subject area, the letter represents a more specific subject, and the final number is the place within that sequence. For example: 4.D.20

4 = English

D = Shakespeare,

20 = It is the 20th book in the Shakespeare sequence


New Style: 6.C.3 SMI

The newer style shelfmarks have additional subdivisions and are organised on the shelf in alphabetical order according to the author’s surname. For example: 6.C.3 SMI

6 = Modern Languages

C = German

3 = Anthologies

SMI = Smith

Please note, with the new style shelfmarks you will find multiple books with the same shelfmark, particularly if they are by the same author. In these cases, you should check the title on the spine or the barcode to ensure you have the text or edition that you want.

Borrowing an item

How do I borrow?

Borrowing is Self-Service at Magdalene, although staff are available if you need assistance. Books are borrowed via the Self-Service Machine, located on the Ground Floor next to the reception desk.

Self issue machine

All you need to borrow books from the Library is your University card barcode.

New Self-Issue machine & Security gates

Please note that we have a new self-issue machine on the ground floor that uses RFID technology to issue the books and to set off the gate alarm.

The Self-Issue machine makes things a little quicker. You only need to scan your ID card to log in and then books are issued by being placed on the pad (no more scanning barcodes!!). Instructions are located next to the machine.

If your ID card is not working, you have a temporary card, or the machine is not working please fill in a manual borrowing form or leave us a note!

If the gate alarm goes off as you enter or leave please go and speak to a member of staff. Please do not be offended if we ask you to speak to us and ask if you have any library books. This is a new system and currently there are several reasons the alarm might go off

  • You have forgotten to borrow the book
  • You have borrowed the book but the self-issue machine failed to desensitize the book
  • You have had a book on loan for several months (all of these have RFID tags which will set the gate off until desensitized by a member of staff)
  • You may have a book from another library that hasn’t been desensitized.

A member of the Library team can quickly check what the problem is and fix it so that the alarm will not continually go off by mistake.

Once the system is bedded in it will speed up borrowing and returning books and help to ensure books are borrowed properly via the self-service machines.

All books must be borrowed via the self-service machine or via a paper borrowing form if the machine is not working.

Do not take books from the library without borrowing, this inconveniences your fellow students and you may receive a fine of up to £30.

Picture of manual borrowing form

Returning an item

When you have finished with an item, or it has been recalled, please return them to one of our two dropbox slots.

The dropbox slots are located in the New Library entrance and at the reception desk next to the self-service machine.

If you are returning a book on the self-service machine and it is not recognizing the book please ask a member of staff for help, or simply place it directly into the dropbox. We check that all books are removed from library accounts before shelving.

What if the book I want is on loan, can I request it?

What happens if I place a request?

If a book that you need is already on loan to another user you can make a request via iDiscover to recall the book from them (you must be logged into your account to do this). Guidance here. The following will happen:

  • An email notification will ask the borrower to return the requested item within 3 days. Requests will never be due back on a weekend or a bank holiday so the new due date would fall on the next working day.
  • If a requested item is not returned within 3 days, it is considered to be overdue and will begin to accrue fines of £1 per day.
  • You will be notified via e-mail when your requested item has been returned. Items must be collected from the Library within 2 days. Items not picked up in two days will be shelved and made available for others to borrow.

Are there fines?


  • Fines will only be charged for overdue requested (recalled) items or overdue short loans.
  • Fines are charged at a rate of £1.00 per day, and will accrue for up to 60 days.
  • If an item has been lost you will be charged the cost for replacement.
  • If you accrue £100 of fines across any/all libraries in Cambridge (including Magdalene) then you will be blocked from borrowing in all libraries until the fine amount is paid.

Blocked from borrowing?

Check the list of possible blocks.

How many items can I borrow and for how long?

The College borrowing rules are in line with most other libraries in Cambridge. 

  • You can borrow up to 12 items from the College Library at a time.
  • Most items are borrowed for 7 days in the first instance for Undergraduates, and 28 days for Postgraduates. However, the loans will continue to be automatically renewed as long as no-one else requests that you return the item(s). 
  • Reference books cannot be borrowed.
  • Short Loan Law books can be taken out on loan for 4 days but cannot be renewed. If you are late returning these you will be charged a £1.00 per day fine.
  • If the item you have out on loan is requested by someone else you must bring it back to the College Library within 3 days (excluding weekends). If you do not return it by the new deadline then you will be fined £1.00 per day until it is returned. Items can't be requested during vacation loan periods.
  • If you have 2 or more overdue requests on items loaned from ANY Library then your card will be blocked from borrowing until the requested items are returned.

At the end of Easter Term Magdalene College Library will normally request all items on loan to be returned ahead of vacation borrowing. This is to help ensure that everyone has a chance to borrow books that have potentially been on loan for a significant time.

How do I know what I’ve got on loan?

How do I know what I’ve got on loan?

It is recommended that you regularly check your Library account and keep track of your current loans. You can keep track of loans, review borrowing history and pay charges by logging into iDiscover and selecting My Library Account. You can also view any requests you have placed and any books you have borrowed which have been requested by another person.

In addition, you may receive courtesy notices from the Library system and from College Library staff as well, some of the key ones to look out for are:

  • Monthly summary list of current loans and due dates (across all Libraries)
  • Reminder that your Short Loan items are due back (sent on the due date) or overdue
  • Notice of updated (reduced) due date (If an item has been requested by another students or the Library)

These are usually sent from You should make sure that notices from this address are not picked up by your e-mail SPAM filter.

Please be aware that these e-mails are courtesy notices and that it is your responsibility to keep track of your loans by regularly logging in to your iDiscover account.

Reading Lists

Reading lists may be a very short selection of key texts or extensive lists of almost every work on a particular topic. This can be daunting and you may be left wondering where to start. A very useful introductory guide to Reading Lists and their potential pitfalls can be found via the CamGuide article, UG CamGuides: How do I find books and articles from a reading list?

Reading Lists Online (Raven authentication required) gives easy access to your course reading lists online. The site shows the location and availability of print books, with links to electronic books, articles and websites, videos and digitised chapters.

Some items may still be available at Magdalene's New Library (or indeed other libraries you may use) even if the library is not listed on Reading Lists Online, so be sure to check using iDiscover to find it in the library.

Reading Lists Online can be accessed through Moodle or the Reading Lists Online website, provide links to digitised and scanned chapters, and can be filtered by priority.

The following videos on Searching for a Specific Item and Browsing a List provide a useful guide.

Item locations

The Library is classified into the following broad subject areas and subdivisions. Please expand each section to see the detailed subdivisions in each section.

For an overview of the Library stock locations please see the Library Map.

Welfare and Wellbeing Collection

Ground Floor

W            Welfare


Study Skills


Ground Floor


RS          Study Skills

DVDS and other Media


Ground Floor


AV           DVDS, CDs, and Flash cards 

A CD player with screen and headphones can be borrowed on request from the Library Office, please ask staff.

Recreational Reading


Social Space (Rowan Williams Room)


1. Archaeology and Physical Anthropology

First Floor

A              Archaeology

C              Physical anthropology

2. Classics

First Floor

A             Oxford Greek Texts (Located in Brooke Gallery, bay 1)

B              Loeb Greek Texts

C              Other Greek texts and translations (A – G)

D             Other Greek texts and translations (H – Z)

E              Greek literary criticism and culture

F              Greek philosophy and religion and science

G             Oxford Latin Texts (Located in Brooke Gallery, bay 1)

H             Loeb Latin Texts

J               Other Latin texts and translations

K              Latin literary criticism and Roman culture

L              Medieval Latin

                (Ancient History: see 8.B, C and D)

3. Human, Social and Political Sciences

Second Floor

A             Social Anthropology

AA           Anthropological theory and methods

                AA.1       Theory and methods

AB           General studies and themes

                AB.1        General studies

                AB.2        Economic Anthropology

                AB.3        Kinship Anthropology

                AB.4        Political Anthropology       

                AB.5        Religion, magic and mythology

AC           Studies by geographical area

                AC.1        Africa

                AC.2        The Americas

                AC.3        Asia and Pacific

                AC.4        Europe            

C              Political philosophy and politics

D             Sociology

                (See also 9.B : Criminology.)

E              Management Studies

F              Social Psychology

                (See also 11.N : Psychology)

4. English

First Floor

A             Anthologies

B              Poetical texts: 16th-17th centuries

C              Poetical texts: 18th century –

D             Shakespeare: criticism

DA           Shakespeare: texts

E              Dramatic texts

F              Dramatic criticism and history

G             Prose texts

H             General Criticism: 16th-17th centuries

J               General Criticism: 18th century –

K              General and miscellaneous

L              Novels (See also 4.O)

M            Medieval English (prose, poetry, drama and criticism to c. 1550)

MT          Early English Text Society

O             American literature

5. Economics

Second Floor

A.1          General Economics

A.2          Economic Theory and methodology

A.3          History of Economics

A.4          Macroeconomics

A.5          Microeconomics

A.6          Economics & mathematics

A.7          Financial/Monetary

A.8          Public Economics

A.9          Labour Economics

A.10        International Economics

A.11        Development Economics

A.12        Industrial Economics

A.13        Urban & Regional Economics

A.14        Environmental Economics

6. Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics

First Floor

A             Linguistics

AA           Theoretical Linguistics

                AA.1       Theoretical Linguistics (General)

                AA.2       Morphology & Syntax

                AA.3       Phonetics and Phonology

                AA.4       Semantics & Pragmatics

AB           Descriptive Linguistics

                AB.1        Descriptive Linguistics (General)

                AB.2        Historical Linguistics (inc. etymology)

                AB.3        Comparative Linguistics

                AB.4        Social Linguistics

AC           Applied Linguistics

                AC.1        Applies Linguistics (General)

                AC.2        Psycholinguistics (incl. language acquisition)

(See also ‘language’ section B. under individual MML languages)

B              French

B.1          French Language

B.3          French Anthologies

B.4          French texts & literary criticism (General)

B.5          French texts and criticism – up to 1500

B.6          French texts and criticism – 16th Century

B.7          French texts and criticism – 17th Century

B.8          French texts and criticism – 18th Century

B.9          French texts and criticism – 19th Century

B.10        French texts and criticism – 20th Century

B.11        French texts and criticism – 21st Century

C              German

C.1          German Language

C.3          German Anthologies

C.4          German texts & literary criticism (General)

C.5          German texts and criticism – up to 1500

C.6          German texts and criticism – 16th Century

C.7          German texts and criticism – 17th Century

C.8          German texts and criticism – 18th Century

C.9          German texts and criticism – 19th Century

C.10        German texts and criticism – 20th Century

C.11        German texts and criticism – 21st Century

F              Italian

G             Spanish

GA           Catalan

H             Russian

J               Portuguese

M            Dutch

N             Scandinavian

O             Polish

P              Slavic

Q             Arabic/Persian

R              Hebrew

S              Languages of China

T              Japanese

U             Korean

Z              Anglo-Saxon, Norse & Celtic

Z.1           General

Z.2           Anglo-Saxon

Z.3           Norse

Z.4           Celtic

7. Geography and Earth Sciences

Second Floor

A             Geography

B              Earth Sciences

8. History


First Floor (divided across two locations on the First Floor)

A             Historiography & General History

B              Greek History

C              Roman History

D             Ancient History (General)

F              Medieval Church

H             European history:

                HA           General European History

                HB           French History

                HC           German History

                HD           Eastern European/Balkan History

                HE           Italian History

                HF           Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg History

                HG           Russian History

                HJ            Iberian (Spanish/Portuguese) History

                HK           Scandinavian History

                Each section is further subdivided into:

                1              General

                2              Medieval

                3              15th to 16th Century

                4              17th to 18th Century

                5              19th Century

                6              20th Century

                7              21st Century         

8.J           British History:

                JA            General (including series of text books)

                JB            Medieval political and constitutional (to 1485)

                JC            Tudor political and constitutional (1485-1603)

                JD            Stuart political and constitutional (1603-1714)

                JE             Modern political history (since 1714)

                JF             Modern political letters, memoirs and biographies (since 1714)

                JG            British Social and Economic History

                JG.1         British Social and Economic History (General)

                JG.2         British Social & Economic History – up to 1500

                JG.3         British Social & Economic History – 1500 to 1700

                JG.4         British Social & Economic History – 1700 to 1945

                JG.5         British Social & Economic History – 1945 onwards

                JJ             Foreign policy and naval history (located in the Brooke Gallery)

                JK            The Constitution (since 1714)

                JM           British Empire and Commonwealth

                                (British Economic History – See 3.A)

                                (Political Philosophy – See 3.C)

L              History of the United States of America

LA           Latin America & Caribbean

M            World History

MA          African History

MB          Indian History

MC          Chinese and Korean History

MD          Japanese History

9. Law and Criminology

Wigglesworth Law Library, Second Floor

A             Law – General and historical

B              Criminology

AA           History of Law: Roman

AB           History of Law: English

BA           Public Law: Constitutional

BB           Public Law: Criminal

CA           Common Law: Contract

CB           Common Law: Tort

D             Property Law

DE           Equity

E              International Law

EA           Environmental Law

EE            European Union Law

EF            Foreign and Comparative Law

F              Jurisprudence

GA           Company Law

GB           Labour Law

H             Family Law

J               Evidence and Procedure

KA           Miscellaneous: Hamlyn Lectures

KB           Miscellaneous

KC           Miscellaneous: Pamphlets

L              Commercial Law

10. Mathematics, Physics and Engineering

Second Floor

A             Analysis

B              Algebra and Geometry

C              Physics

D             Mechanics and Mechanical Engineering

E              General Engineering:

                EA           Structures and materials, and civil engineering

                                (See also: 11.O)

                EB            Thermodynamics and fluid flow

                EC            Electrical

                ED           Miscellaneous

FA           Probability and statistics

FB            Applied Mathematics in Science and Engineering

FC            Miscellaneous Mathematics

FD           Computer Science

G             Chemical Engineering

11. Natural and Medical Sciences

Second Floor

A             Physical Chemistry

B             Inorganic Chemistry

C             Organic Chemistry

D             Biochemistry

E             Physiology and Pharmacology

F             Pathology

G             Anatomy and Histology

H             Medical (Miscellaneous)

HA           Clinical Medicine

HV           Veterinary Medicine

J              General Biology, Evolution and Genetics

K             Morphological Zoology

L              Ecology, Behaviour and Physiological Zoology

M             Botany

N              Psychology

O              Metallurgy and Mineralogy; Crystalline State (See also: 10.EA)

P               Miscellaneous Science (including History and Philosophy of Science)

                 (Earth Sciences, see 7.B; Physics, see 10.C)

12. Philosophy

First Floor

A             History of Philosophy

B              General

(Political Philosophy, see 3.C; Philosophy of religion see 14.M.3)

13. Land Economy

Second Floor

A.1          Land Economy (General)

B.1          Planning

B.2          Conservation and planning

B.3          Urban development

B.4          Housing & housing policy

C.1          Real Estate, property and valuation

D.1          Agriculture

D.2          Forestry

14. Theology, Religion and the Philosophy of Religion

First Floor

A             Biblical Criticism

                AA           General

                AB           Old Testament

                AC           New Testament

                AD           Patristics and early Church texts

B              History of Christian Doctrine and Church History

                                (See also: 8.F, Medieval Church)

C              Christian Theology and Ethics

D             Texts (Theological)

E              Oxford Movement (special collection, available only on request)

G             Buddhism

H             Hinduism

I               Islam

                I.1            Islamic texts

                I.2            History and theology

J               Judaism

K              Other religions or religious movements

M            Religion, comparative religion and philosophy of religion

                M.1         General Religion

                M.2         Comparative religion/inter-faith dialogue

                M.3         Philosophy of religion

N             Science & religion

(See also 3.AB.5 Anthropology of religion)

15. Architecture and History of Art

First Floor

A             Architecture

B              History of Art and Architecture

C              Film Studies

D             Graphic Novels

D.1          Graphic Novels: Criticism and history

D.2          Graphic Novels

15.A-L Duncan Robinson Donation


First Floor

Duncan Robinson Donation (some of this section is in storage, please ask Library staff for help)

15. A. – Theory & criticism (including aesthetics)

15. B. – General History of Art & Architecture        

15.B.1              General

Then by period:

15.B.2              Art & Architecture Classical (Minoan Greek Roman)

15.B.3                Art & Architecture Medieval

                          (Anglo Saxon, Byzantine, Romanesque,  Carolingian, Gothic)

15.B.4                Art & Architecture 14th – 16th Century

                         (Renaissance, Early Netherlands)

15.B.5                Art & Architecture 17th to 18th Century (Baroque, Rococo)

15.B.6                Art & Architecture 19th Century          (Romanticism, Impressionism)

15.B.7                Art & Architecture 20th Century         (Cubism, Art Deco, De Stijl)

15.B.8                Art & Architecture 21st Century


15. C. – Museum Studies


15. D. – Graphic art (drawing, design & illustration)


15. E. – Painting

15. E.1 – General

15. E.2 – Painting (to ca. 499)

15. E.3 – Painting (ca. 500 – 1399)

15. E.4 – Painting (ca. 1400 – 1599)

15. E.5 – Painting (ca. 1600 – 1899)

15. E.6 – Painting (ca. 1900 – present)


15. F. – Printmaking (etchings, engravings, lithographs, etc.)


15. G. – Sculpture

15. G.1 – General

15. G.2 – Prehistoric sculpture

15. G.3 – Greek, Roman & Etruscan sculpture

15. G.4 – Sculpture (ca. 500 - 1499)

15. G.5 – Sculpture (ca. 1500 - 1899)

15. G.6 – Sculpture (ca. 1900 – present)


15. H. – Architecture

15. H.1 – Theory (including structural design, principles & elements)

15. H.2 – General History

15. H.3 – Architecture (to ca. 299)

15. H.4 – Architecture (ca. 300 – 1399)

15. H.5 – Architecture (ca. 1400 - 1899)

15. H.6 – Architecture (ca. 1900 – present)

15. H.7 – The Buildings of England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland series


15. I. – Landscape & gardens


15. J. – Decorative arts


15. K. – Photography


15. L. – Film studies

16. Music

First Floor

A             History and Interpretation

B             Scores

17. Education

First Floor

A             Historical

B             General and Theoretical

               (See also 11.N, Psychology)

18. Cambridge, Magdalene College, Parnell collection & miscellaneous

Ground Floor (except Parnell Collection which is located on First Floor) 

A             Cambridge

B              College (books about the College, and about or by its members)

C              Magdalene College Magazine and Record

D             Sarawak Foundation Collection (Special Collection, available only on request)

F              Charles Stuart Parnell and Irish Studies [Located on Ground Floor, Right Cloister]

Reference Books, Journals and Past Exam Papers

Second Floor

R. A         Encyclopaedias

R. B         Dictionaries

R. C         Concordances

R. D         Histories

R. E          Music

R. F          Miscellaneous (including Bibliographies)

R. G         Atlases

R. H         Engineering

R. J          Journals

Past Exam Papers