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Ordering books to the Modern Collections Desk

Books which have the direction 'Order to the Modern Collections Desk' on iDiscover or on the Finding list are fetched to the Room by a member of staff upon completion of either an online request or a paper order form.

Book fetching

Items will be fetched as quickly as possible, but there may be delays at certain times of day (especially 12:30–14:15 and 17:15–18:20). Orders submitted after 18:20 (16:15 on Saturdays) will be fetched on the next working day. During Full Easter Term fetching continues until 20.20.

Once fetched, books are placed on a stand behind the Modern Collections Desk. Ask at this desk and the staff member will issue the book to you. Books are held for the remainder of the day they are fetched and one full working day thereafter. 

If you wish to order more than ten books at one time, please consult staff before placing your order.


Readers wishing to reserve items for future use should complete a red Reservation Slip, available on all the tables, and leave the slip clearly visible in the book(s) to be reserved. Books may be reserved on the tables for three working days. Please note that reference books (R100-R952 and Ref) may not be reserved.


Reference books (R100-R952 and Ref) and Modern Collection Desk items are not borrowable.

Transfer of material

It is usually possible to arrange for the temporary transfer of reference works to another specialist reading room for use in conjunction with material fetched there.

Readers may occasionally be directed to the Rare Books reading room to consult older reference works formerly shelved in the Reading Room.


Items fetched to the Reading Room may be taken from the room to be copied if they are first signed out by a staff member. Ask for assistance with this at the Modern Collections Desk. Staff will advise on alternative methods of reproduction, if the work is fragile, large or antiquarian.

Details of all reproduction services offered by the Library are available on the Digital Content Unit's webpages.

Self-service photography

Readers may use their own cameras to take still photographs of material at a designated table in the Reading Room. Photographs may be taken for non-commercial research or private study only.

Cameras and camera phones must be hand-held and must be capable of being set to 'silent'. SLRs, tripods, 'mini-pods', hand-held scanners and flash photography are not permitted.

Please see our full guidelines for further information.

Uncatalogued book searches

Enquiries concerning any book described as an Uncatalogued item should be made at either enquiry desk. Staff will complete an online form requesting an uncatalogued book search. Enquiries may also be made online.

Such books must be picked up and consulted in the Modern Collections area. They must not be removed from this space nor left unattended on the tables but must be returned to the Modern Collections Desk where they may be reserved for further use, if accompanied by a completed reservation slip. Alternatively such books can be sent for urgent cataloguing and the enquirer notified once this has been done.


Laptops may be used in the Reading Room provided they cause no disturbance to other readers. Mains sockets are provided at all the tables designated for laptop use.

The tables in the South-West quarter of the room, clearly marked, form a laptop-free zone.

Wireless internet access is available to members of the University of Cambridge using their Raven passwords. Temporary access can be granted to visitors, please ask at any Library desk to be connected.


Enquiries concerning reference works, books fetched to the Reading Room and other aspects of the Library's work, policy and procedures may be made in the Reading Room at any time. If the question cannot be answered immediately, an appropriate specialist can often be found to provide further assistance.

Enquiries are welcome in person, by telephone or by email to