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Chemistry Library


Borrowing books

Eligibility to borrow books from the Chemistry Library

University of Cambridge academic and research staff and research students may borrow from the library. Part III, II and IB undergraduate students reading chemistry may also borrow.

Please visit the Access to the library web page for more information on borrowing rights for different categories of reader.

Borrower registration

Before borrowing for the first time it is necessary to be registered on the Chemistry Library circulation system. Please bring your University card to the library office to set up a borrowing account.

How to borrow and return books

After registration books may be borrowed and returned using the self-issue machine - see this blog post for instructions (with pictures!).

Loan periods

  • Main collection (open shelf) books at Chemistry are loaned for 28 days to PhD and Masters students, Post-docs, Academics, University staff. Undergraduates can borrow these open shelf books for seven days.
  • A maximum of two books from the Blue Book (short loan) collection can be borrowed for four days only and cannot be renewed or requested by someone else.
  • N.B. Undergraduate and postgraduate students who have a Student Support Document from the Disability Resource Centre regarding additional academic support will be able to borrow up to ten Blue Books (short loan) and up to ten open shelf books (i.e. up to a total of 20 books). You have what is called 'upgraded' status on the library management system.
  • Periodical bound volumes and individual issues may not be borrowed but some book series volumes can, please contact a member of library staff to check.

Please visit the How collections are organized page for more information on these collections.

Auto-renewals and fines

  • 28 day loan books will be automatically renewed for you by the system. You will only have to return them if they have been requested (recalled) by someone else. 4 day loan books cannot be renewed or requested by someone else.
  • If someone else requests the item you have borrowed you will have to bring it back within three days. 
  • If you are late returning an item that has been requested by someone else/a short loan item, you will be charged £1.00 per day. This will accrue for up to 60 days.
  • You will need to pay fines online via your account on iDiscover with your credit/debit card. The Chemistry Library will not take cash payments.
  • You will receive a statement by email on the second day of every month which shows what items you have on loan, including overdue items and fines, for all libraries that you have borrowed books from.
  • N.B. 'Upgraded' postgraduate and undergraduate students (see Loan periods, above) will not be charged fines.

Please see the Borrowing from Cambridge Libraries LibGuide for further information and instructions.

How to see if a book is on loan

At the end of the book's catalogue record on iDiscover, see the 'Get it' section for the book's library locations. If it's currently on loan, the status will be 'Not in place' and a due date for return provided. If the book isn't on loan, the status will be 'In place'. 

How to request a book that is on loan to someone else

You can do this via iDiscover.


All books and periodicals are security tagged and there is CCTV surveillance at all times. Anyone who abuses any item, tries to remove a tag or exits the library with 'reference only' items, or books they have not checked out may lose their library access rights.