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Using iDiscover, the online catalogue

All of our books are catalogued online on iDiscover, the online catalogue for the libraries of the University, including Cambridge University Library and its affiliated libraries, and most faculty, departmental and college libraries.

iDiscover is a new search engine that allows you to look for printed books and journals and electronic material held in all the libraries in the University of Cambridge. iDiscover is designed to be quick and easy. Simply enter your keywords into the search box near the top of the screen.

If you perform a catalogue search for a book and there is an electronic version available, you will retrieve a record for it which will contain a link to that e-book. See ebooks@cambridge, below.


Using the card catalogue in the Zoology Library

Most of the book stock has an entry in our author / editor card catalogue, with a short subject index, which is located in the Library. The catalogue was discontinued in January 2016 and no new cards have been added since.

Classmarks preceded with a lower case q are quarto size (large size) and shelved separately.

A yellow fluorescent circle on the top left corner of the card, indicates that this book is shelved in the separate sequence of books for Overnight Loan only.

Titles with 'Reserve Stock' stamped on their cards are kept on closed access. These books are not borrowable, but may be consulted in the Library during opening hours. Please ask the for more information.


Recommended reading

Most of the books listed on lecturers' reading lists are shelved separately, on the Overnight Loan shelves, and may be borrowed overnight only. There are also extra copies of many of these books on the Open Shelves which can be borrowed for a longer period. A list of the books with extra copies on the Open Shelves can be found on top of the Overnight Loan shelves.

See the individual course entries from the Department of Zoology's Undergraduate Teaching page, which will invariably lead you to the course site on Moodle.


Classification scheme

The Library uses the BLISS Classification Scheme, in which letters are used to indicate the main categories of subject matter.

Letters E to H are used for general areas of biology and zoology (e.g. EN genetics, GD physiology).

Letters K to Y are used for the major taxonomic groups of animals.

The guiding principle is that you go from the general to the particular. For example, 'Q' denotes the section dealing with general works on insects. CHAPMAN'S "Insects" has the class mark Q (45), which means that it is the 45th general work on insects on the shelves.

The section 'Q' is broken down as follows:

Books on the order Orthoptera are classified QF, e.g. RAGGE'S "Grasshoppers, crickets and locusts" has the class mark QF (10), which means that it is the 10th book on Orthoptera on the shelves

The classification scheme also has twelve numbered schedules, which apply mainly to the major taxonomic groups (birds, crustacea, insects, molluscs, fishes, mammals etc):

1. Catalogues and shelf lists

2. Bibliography

3. Taxonomy

4. Morphology

5. Physiology

6. Embryology

7. Behaviour

8. Ecology

9. Oology (in the case of birds)

10. Methods

11. Pathology

12. Palaeontology

These follow the general works, coming before the orders and families. Of all the schedules, 5 is the most frequently used: e.g. WIGGLESWORTH'S "Principles of insect physiology" which has the class mark Q.5 (5).

We also use subscript letters and numbers to denote different editions, copies or volumes. If a book is a second edition it will have a 'b' after the number in brackets, if a book is a third edition it will have a 'c' after the number in brackets etc. If there is more than one copy of the same book, it will have a subscript copy number after the number in brackets. For example, a copy of the fourth edition of KREBS' "Behavioural ecology" has the class mark GFU (117d3). This means that it is the 3rd copy of the fourth edition. On the iDiscover catalogue, copy numbers are denoted by Roman numerals, e.g. i, ii, iii.


How to get hold of a book not held anywhere in the University of Cambridge

  • You can request an Inter-Library Loan (ILL) from the British Library. See our Inter-Library Loans web page for more information.
  • You could see if the book appears on Google Book Search at
  • Is it available within the University as an e-book? See the section below.
  • You could recommend that the Zoology Library purchases a copy, see 'How to recommend a book for purchase by the Zoology Library' below.


ebooks @ cambridge

ebooks@cambridge provides access to electronic versions of hundreds of the books most used by undergraduate students.  They are available to all current staff and students of the University from any location, 24/7.
The e-books provide online versions of complete texts, allowing readers to search, print and download sections of works (subject to the usual copyright restrictions where you may only copy up to 10% or one whole chapter, whichever is greater, from a book).  Additionally, they offer features such as dictionary checking and citation export; electronic notes and bookmarks can be made by creating a personal account. Some e-books can also be downloaded to mobile devices.

You can access the e-books through iDiscover, i.e. if you perform a catalogue search for a book and there is an electronic book version available, you will retrieve a record for it which will contain a direct link to that e-book. Access on-campus may not require a password. To access e-books off-campus you will need your Raven password.

Please see the ebooks@cambridge libguide for further information on e-books in the university, and how to make the most of them.


How to recommend a book for purchase by the Zoology Library

Please complete the recommendation form, giving all the relevant bibliographic details of the book (including author, title, ISBN, publisher, price) as well as your name and contact details, and a brief summary of why you feel that the book would be a valuable addition to the Library's collections, and who it would be relevant for. The Senior Library Assistant will then evaluate your recommendation and let you know if and when a copy will be purchased.

Recommendations for books published by Cambridge University Press are always particularly welcome since the Library receives an annual allocation to spend on their books.


Online dictionaries

The University has a subscription to the Oxford Reference Online Premium collection. The subscription also includes specialist literature and Western civilisation collections.

Oxford Reference Online brings together many of OUP's most popular reference titles, including subject and concise/pocket language dictionaries, into a single, cross-searchable collection, making it a unique tool for reference enquiries.

Subjects covered range from Art and Architecture through Classics, Economics and Business, Mythology and Folklore, to Zoology. View Oxford Reference Online

Access is available without passwords within the university.

Access off-campus is via Raven authentication. See 'How do I get a password for Raven?' on the University Information Services website for more information.