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Cambridge LibGuides

Selwyn College Library: Getting started

Welcome to Selwyn and to the Bartlam Library

We know you have a lot to get to grips with, and not much time to get your heads round it all, so we wanted to give you a quick introduction to Selwyn College Library (the Bartlam Library) and libraries across Cambridge. We don’t expect you to read this through from start to finish, but we wanted you to have all the vital information collected together here. We also won’t mind if you ask us a question for which the answer is in here. If it is, we’ll point you to it along with any extra specific information for your query.

The Bartlam Library opened as a study space in the spring and we moved the books across from the old library in the summer. This means some things may move and change as we carry on through the academic year. We will also be getting extra furniture and equipment during the year. If you're not sure where to find something - or if you have any suggestions for things to add or change - please do let us know.

If you have any questions, please get in touch by email ( There are usually library staff available between 9 and 5, Monday to Friday (between 9 and 3 on Fridays this term). You can email us or find us in the library offices (though we do sometimes work from home).

Finding books and articles from your reading lists (and beyond)

If your reading list is online, you can follow the links through to ebooks, journal articles, and library records on iDiscover for print books.

These reading list entries will not show all items available in Cambridge, so you may need to search iDiscover to find copies of books in Selwyn and other libraries.

One top tip for online reading lists in Moodle: make sure you access the list first through the link from Moodle. This will ensure that you have access to any scanned or uploaded documents made available for people on your course. 

If your reading list isn't online, or you are looking for something that isn't on a list, you should also start by searching iDiscover. This will let you search for books and other items in any of the libraries in Cambridge.

Next to the iDiscover search box, there is a drop-down list of libraries which you can use to find books in a particular library. There are also radio buttons above to choose to search for books, ebooks, and journals (Cambridge Libraries collections) or for individual journal articles and other online resources (articles and online resources).

For print books, you'll need to make a note of the shelfmark of the book in the library you are using, and you'll need to check that it is available (item in place) and not already on loan. If it is on loan, check first for copies in other libraries. If there are none available, you can place a request on a loan copy. You can use Selwyn College Library, the subject libraries, and the University Library, but not other college libraries, as each college library is for its own college members.

For ebooks and articles, you should be able to follow the green online access link to get to them directly.

If you'd like to learn more about making the best use of iDiscover to find the resources you need, have a look at this video from Wolfson College Library (it uses Wolfson examples, but would be relevant for anyone). You can also have a look at the finding books and articles section of CamGuides.

For more about Reading Lists Online, there is a guide available that includes written information, short videos, and tips on making best use of your online reading lists.

Finding books in Selwyn Library

Selwyn Library books generally have shelfmarks with numbers for the subject, followed by the first three letters of the author or editor's surname For example, Molecular biology of the cell, by Bruce Alberts (and co-authors), is at 571.6 ALB.

If you need to find a book on the shelves and are not sure where to start, our guide to locating books in the Bartlam Library will explain what is shelved where. As a quick guide:

  • 001 - 999 shelfmarks are on the first floor
  • S 001 - S 999 shelfmarks are on the second floor
  • DVDs and GUS and A books are in the lower-height bookcases on the first floor
  • Exam papers and Very Short Introductions are in the display case shelving on the first floor

If you can't find a Selwyn copy of the book you're looking for on iDiscover, you can email the library to ask us to buy a copy or fill in our online book suggestion form.

Borrowing from Selwyn Library - the basics

  • You can have a maximum of 20 Selwyn items on loan to you at a time (and a maximum of 200 from all the Cambridge libraries combined)
  • These items will automatically renew until you are requested to return them
  • You can place a request on an item that is on loan to someone else using iDiscover and other people can request items that you have on loan, but only during term time
  • You will only be fined if you fail to return requested items (£1 per day)

For more information on borrowing and automatic renewals at Selwyn and the other libraries you can use in Cambridge, have a look at our borrowing information and the Cambridge University Libraries' borrowing guide.

Libraries in Cambridge

In addition to your college library, you have access to subject libraries and the University Library.

Your faculty or department should have information available to you about your subject library (or libraries), their services, and any introductory materials, guides, and tours. There are also bookable tours of the UL available.

You can also have a look at the library guide for your subject, which will include information about the most useful resources for your subject.

For more general information about the libraries available to you, have a look at the Cambridge Libraries library essentials guide or contact library staff here in Selwyn.

If you are looking for a library space in which to work, a good place to start is Spacefinder. This lists and maps locations in the University Library and subject libraries, together with some non-library and non-University spaces, and gives details on the nature of the space and any access requirements (with regular updates for current restrictions and their implications).

Tour of the library

New undergraduates will have a brief tour of the library scheduled on Tuesday 5 or Wednesday 6 October.

We will be running additional tours in the week before and after, for new graduates, undergraduates unable to attend the timetabled tours, and any returning students who would like to attend. We will add more tours if there is demand for them. If you are unable to attend one of the scheduled tours, please email the library with suggested days and times and we will let you know when is possible.

If you would like more information about the library before you arrive, have a look at our guide to the building.

Studying in Selwyn Library

There are study spaces available on the first and second floors of the library, at individual and at larger desks. There are also two study rooms that can be booked. There is more information about the library space and facilities on the using the Bartlam Library page.

Please note: we will be opening windows in the library to help keep the space ventilated, so please dress warmly and take regular breaks. We can't currently lend blankets, but you are welcome to bring your own (a library-friendly BYOB).

Support for disabled students

For more information on the library support available for disabled students, have a look at our support guide.

Top tips and useful extras

One first top tip would be to download Lean Library and LibKey Nomad as browser plug-ins. They authenticate you and deliver ebooks and articles where there is a Cambridge subscription or look for an open access version if not. Doing your searching through iDiscover can also help with authentication issues.

This next one is also in the finding things section, but bears repeating: for online reading lists in Moodle, make sure you access the list first through the link from Moodle. This will ensure that you have access to any scanned or uploaded documents made available for people on your course. 

If the ebook link you find is a red "electronic legal deposit" link, this is an ebook you would need to read at a designated PC in the University Library or one of the subject libraries. Legal deposit books are available at the six copyright libraries in the UK and Ireland and have restrictions associated with them. If you'd like to learn more, there is a guide available on how and where to access them, with added information about context and alternatives.

Printing - the basics

The two college printer/copiers are managed by IT and you can find more information on how to print to them and how much that costs in IT's printing FAQs.

The printer/copier in the library is in the computer room on the first floor of the library.

Recommending books for purchase

You are welcome to recommend books to us for us to buy. There is a suggestions form on the college website that you can use, or you can send us an email.

We don't see all the reading lists you're given, so do let us know if there are books on your reading lists that we don't have. We're happy to receive reading lists by email. We aim to have the key texts particularly for Part I, and can liaise with subject libraries if you're trying to get hold of more specialist texts.

You can also use the University Library's online form for recommending books and ebooks for purchase by the University Library and subject libraries.

Camguides for undergraduates logo

Camguides for Masters students logo

The Library Team

Library staff are working in the library and sometimes from home. If you have an enquiry of any kind, please email the library and we will get back to you as soon as we are able.

Sonya Adams, the College Librarian, is the only member of library staff who works full time.

Michael Wilson, the Assistant Librarian, works mornings.

Katie Turner, the Library Assistant, works variable hours during term time.

                Front door of the Bartlam Library (by Sir Cam)

We look forward to welcoming you soon!

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