The purpose-built Study Centre occupies the narrow site (formerly the Darwin family kitchen garden) between the Old Granary and the main Silver Street bridge across the Cam. The building was designed to provide members with a quiet working space and computing facilities, and to house the College Library.

The library contains a general collection of about 10,000 books, consisting of works of reference and a selection of literature, with the aim of helping to stimulate and satisfy members’ curiosity and to encourage wide reading. No attempt is made to provide a comprehensive resource for members’ specialised research, which is catered for by the University Library and Faculty Libraries.

Information on finding and borrowing books and DVDs and on our special collections is on the Library Information Pages.

The open-plan design of the interior of the Study Centre and Library produces an attractively light working space, but the openness also means that members must be considerate and avoid disturbing others while moving around and while working.

In addition to keeping the building as a quiet area, members are asked not to eat, and to only drink from covered containers, while in the Centre.

Interested members of the College are also warmly invited to sit on the Library Committee.

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Visiting the Study Centre and Library

The Study Centre and Library is located on the far left of the College and is only open to Darwin College members, who will need a University Card to access the building.

  • The exterior door is left unlocked from 7am to 7pm – outside these hours, it can only be opened by using your University Card.
  • To access the interior door, you will need to use your University Card.
  • To exit the Study Centre and Library and then the building, press the green exit button found on the left of the doorways to open the doors.

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Study area

We have 37 study spaces on the mezzanine, as well as a single desk at the far end of the library and a large table in the entryway. Additionally, there are three study rooms which can each house six students. There are three college computers in each study room that students may use. There are also several spaces available in the printing room.

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The doors to the building and then to the library are not automatic and can only be opened manually. There are a number of step-free study spaces available on the ground floor if students are unable to access the stairs to the mezzanine study area. Please contact a staff member if you need help accessing any resources. The nearest accessible bathroom is located before the door to the library.

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Library Regulations

Hot and cold drinks are allowed but only in containers that close. Please do not bring open drinks containers such as mugs and glasses.

You may not eat in the library.

Mobile phones must be kept on silent. No calls may be taken or made anywhere in the library area.

Please do not remove any equipment from the study centre, including laptop stands, keyboards, monitors, cords etc.

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Finding Books

All books in the Darwin library as well as all the other University libraries can be searched using iDiscover (click on the link for more information on how to use iDiscover).

All the books in Darwin library are ordered using the Dewey Decimal system.

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Borrowing and Returning Books

Borrowing a book: You can use the self-checkout desk at the entrance to the study centre.

• Scan your university card and type your surname to log in to your borrowing account.

• Scan the Darwin Library bar-code on the back cover of the book.

If there is a problem with the scanning, a second copy of the bar code is available on the inside cover of the book. If this does not work, please fill out one of the provided check-out slips with your name, your CRSID, the title of the book, the barcode number, and the date, and then leave it in the book drop for the librarians to manually complete your loan.

Dictionaries and other marked reference books must not, of course, be removed from the library. The library is not staffed or supervised during fixed hours, and members are asked to treat it with respect. Losses of books cost time and money and damage the interests of all the members of the College.

Returning a book: To return a book, drop it through the slot in the book returns cupboard found next to the self-checkout terminal.

Your loans will automatically renew until someone else requests a book, at which point you will receive an email listing a new due date. The library does not charge late fees, but please be a courteous library user and return your books promptly when requested.

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Recommending Books

We welcome members’ recommendations and requests for purchases. We are particularly interested in requests for books published by Cambridge University Press (CUP), as CUP have a special offer for college libraries. If you have any recommendations, please send an email to

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Access to other libraries

Most students belong to three libraries during their studies at Cambridge University: their College Library, Faculty/Departmental Library, and the University Library. Each library has their own rules, opening hours, and borrowing rights.

Watch the following video for more information about the Cambridge University libraries: ttps://

For information on academic and information practices and skills that students commonly engage in, or require, for their degrees, visit

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Library Support

The College employs two student librarians and a staff librarian, as well as a library fellow. They work out of the library office, which is the third room from the entrance. Their hours vary, so if they are not in the office, they can be contacted by email:

They will always be happy to help if you have queries about the Study Centre and Library.

Feel free to use the whiteboard at the entrance for any comments, requests or recommendations.

Student Librarian: Amelia Urry

Deputy Student Librarian: Lauren Jacocks

Staff Assistant Librarian: Philippa Cameron

Fellow Librarian: Chloe Katter

The Library Committee is responsible for keeping the library running. If you would like to be involved, please contact the Fellow Librarian.

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DVD Collection

All members are free to use the DVD Library. The DVD collection is stored in the cabinet to the right of the self-checkout desk in the Study Centre and Library. Use your University Card to open the cabinet and select the DVDs you’d like to borrow. You can borrow up to two DVDs at a time for five days. Use the self-checkout terminal or the self-checkout slips to complete your loan.

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Borrowing Policy for Non-Darwinians

The Darwin College Library does not, in the majority of cases, grant non-Darwinians the privilege of borrowing books from the College Library. This is in accordance with the library borrowing policies of other College Libraries in the University of Cambridge. Visiting scholars may, however, be granted permission to consult and make use of the collection within the premises of the Study Centre. The librarians ( should be contacted in the first instance. Exceptions to the above lie wholly at the discretion of the Fellow Librarian or the Bursar.

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Special Collections in the Library

Finley Collection

Sir Moses Finley, who was Master from 1976 to 1982, left his personal Library to the College, which is now housed in a dedicated room on the upper floor of the Study Centre. This collection covers many aspects of the philosophical, political, and social organisation of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. Unlike the general lending collection, this collection is a major resource for research. Access to these books may be arranged through the Student Librarian.
Vesalius’s “Fabrica” and Spigelius’s “Opera”

In 1995 the College was given two remarkable medical books by Mr Geoffrey R Fisk.

Mr Fisk became a member of the College while studying for an M. Phil in Physical Anthropology upon his retirement from St. Bartholomew’s Hospital London, where he had been a teacher on the orthopaedic graduate rotation and Senior Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Princess Alexandra Hospital, Harlow. Mr Fisk’s major interest was the hand, and he has been president of the Society for Surgery of the Hand. Since moving to Cambridge, Mr and Mrs Fisk have continued to play an active part in Darwin College life, attending the lectures of the annual Darwin series, College dinners, and other College functions.

The first of the medical books is the Fabrica by Andreas Vesalius (1543) which has been described as the “most famous book on human anatomy ever printed and one of the most important”. The woodcut illustrations, (the artist was probably Titian) are particularly famous for their technical excellence, the striking poses of the human models and the attractive Tuscan settings in which the models stand.

The second of the books is the Opera by Adrian Spigelius (1645). The plates mark a new epoch in anatomical illustration, being engraved on copper, in contrast to the woodcuts of the Fabrica. This book also contains an early and important reprint of Harvey’s description (1628) of the Circulation of the Blood.

The College is extremely fortunate to possess first editions of two books that have played such a role in the development of science.

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