Introduction and general information
This guide is intended to provide an introduction to all aspects of the library in the Institute of Astronomy. It is aimed at the regular user of the library, whether a member of the institute, or of another department within the University. Those who only make infrequent use of the library, may wish to refer instead to the brief guide, which presents a digest of this information.
The library is staffed between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Mondays to Fridays, although the office may be closed during the lunch-hour (12.30am-1.30pm). The library is available to external readers during these hours, access outside these times being limited to members of the institute who may use all collections on open access.
All members of the institute are welcome to use and borrow from the library. If you have not used the library before, please introduce yourself to the librarian before you borrow items for the first time.
Postgraduate students and staff from other departments within the university may also borrow from the library. We regret that, in order to maintain the availability of the collection for our own staff, we may have to restrict the loan period.
Undergraduate students may use the library for reference facilities, but may not borrow, except with permission from the Librarian. There are collections of the books on the astrophysics reading list kept permanently available in Room B and in the Hoyle library area.
Any others engaged in bonafide research who wish to use the library for reference purposes should apply to the librarian.
Collections and their location
The main collection of books is housed in room A and the Annexe, together with physics, mathematics and computing books in room B.
There are two sets of Undergraduate textbooks one set is in room B, the other in the Hoyle Building. Please do not borrow these books so that they are always available for student use
Current periodicals are held in room C, with an overflow each side into rooms B and D.
Star atlases and catalogues are found in room G, while some large format atlases are in drawers. Please ask a member of staff if you wish to consult this material.
Newsletters and annual reports from observatories are in room D. Some of the older copies may be located in the Michael Penston Room.
Slides and videocassettes are located in room G. The slides are arranged using a special classification scheme, details of which are located next to the slide collection.
Dead periodicals and observatory publications are in the Michael Penston Room.
If you wish to consult other collections which are not listed here then please ask the Librarian.
The Hoyle Building library
A small duplicate collection of books and journals is held on the first floor of the Hoyle Building. New books are placed on display here for 2-3 weeks. There is also a set of Undergraduate books and a display rack for new preprints.
Finding an item
With some exceptions (eg. the offprint collection), all items within the library are entered on a computerised catalogue, called Newton. You will find computer terminals in rooms A and C from which you may access the catalogue. From a computer terminal in the library, select the 'Newton' option at the top of the screen, or from any other terminal with a web browser access http://newton.lib.cam.ac.uk:7603/"
To perform a simple search, enter the term you wish to search under, then click on one of the options, eg: author, title, etc. If you wish to combine terms from more than one field, separate them by the word 'and', then click on the 'search everything' option. Once you have found the item take a note of the 'call number' and location which are shown at the bottom of the catalogue record.
If you are looking for a periodical title, then the alphabetical list on the wall in room C may be quicker.
As the stock in the library is being re-catalogued, there are at present two classification schemes in use. All books in the main collection will have a new classmark: a subject number followed by the first three letters of the authors surname. The sequence is shelved in firstly in numerical order, and then alphabetical order. Periodicals and other items will have an old classmark: a room letter, the case number and shelf number. Case numbers run in a clockwise direction around the room, with shelves being numbered from the top down.
If you cannot find an item on the shelf, then you may check who has borrowed it by using the card file in room C next to the computer terminal. Loan cards for books are filed in alphabetical order by the authors name; those for periodicals by title. If the item is not on the shelf, or not on loan, then please ask a member of library staff.
Borrowing an item
Most items in the library can be borrowed, the only exceptions being books in the reference collection, the undergraduate collection, periodicals on the display rack and new accessions on display in room A. The reference collection and undergraduate textbooks are clearly marked "Not to be taken from the library".
To borrow a book or periodical, complete a loan card, with the required details and your surname written clearly. Where there is more than one copy or edition of a book add the copy number (found on a green label on the spine). You can find trays with blank loan cards in the rooms A,B,C and G; outside the library office and in the annexe.
Please try to return books as soon as you have finished with them. However, for all members of the institute, the maximum loan period is three months. After this, you should bring any book you wish to renew to the library office. You can also renew books online using Newton. To return a book place it in the black tray in room C, do not replace it directly on the shelves or remove the loan card.
If necessary, transfers of an item from one borrower to another are possible. You should complete a new loan card, and underneath your name you should clearly state the name of the original borrower. Please do not alter or remove the original card.
Books not on the catalogue
If you cannot find the title you require on the catalogue, there are a number of possibilities:
If you are not sure of the exact bibliographic details, then ask a member of the library staff who may be able to help you find the item.
If you think that the title is an important one, then please consider suggesting it for purchase. We welcome suggestions from any library user: either speak to any member of staff, or send an e-mail message to firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, we may be able to obtain the item from another library, either on loan, or as a photocopy. Please ask in the library office if you would like us to do this.
The library also has an extensive collection of offprints of astronomical papers from periodicals not normally held by us. These items are not entered on the computerised catalogue, but have their own card catalogue in room G. Cards are filed in a single alphabetical sequence by the name of the author, or, in the case of anonymous publications, by the issuing body. Each card has a classmark which refers to the numbered boxes, or will be stamped "ask librarian", in which case you should ask in the office if you wish to consult the item.
We sometimes receive advance copies of papers intended for publication. These are placed on display in the Hoyle Building, and later filed in the cabinet under the west staircase. Preprints are only kept for one year, after which the paper concerned should have been published in the normal way.
Other services Photocopying. There is a self service photocopier in the library, located near the main entrance. Members of the institute making copies for teaching, research or administration may do so free of charge. Other library users, and those making private copies are asked to pay 3 pence per sheet. In this case you should also fill in the copying register and pay at the library office or reception when you have finished. Please be aware of the terms of the copyright license displayed next to the copier.
Slides. An extensive collection of slides is housed in the Michael Penston Room, providing a resource for illustrating lectures and talks. All slides are entered on the computerised catalogue and may be borrowed by entering details in the book near the collection. The institute has facilities for making printed copies of a slide if necessary. Please ask if you need this.
Microfiche and CD-ROMs. There is a small range of titles, principally star catalogues, on Microfiche or CD-ROM. There is a microfiche reader in room G, and CD-ROMs may be borrowed for use at a computer terminal within the institute. In addition, some journals have been issued with supplements on 'fiche or CD-ROM, in which case they are shelved along with the main journal.
Sky surveys. The photographic sky surveys are now housed in the building with the Automatic Plate-measuring Machine. As this is not part of the library, you should ask if you wish to use the sky surveys so that we can arrange access for you. There is also a digitised version in the library which may be used from a computer terminal with a CD-ROM drive.
Electronic resources. The field of astronomy is particularly well served with online databases, the most important of which can be accessed via the library's web page:
In addition, major journals are available online, usually without needing a password (from any machine within the institute). For the small number of services which require a password, you will have to complete a registration form which are available from the library office.
Electronic resources have been provided as a means of accessing recent papers in advance of our receiving the printed issue. Accordingly, you should be aware that they are often an expensive and time-consuming way of obtaining articles from journals already held by the library.
The library rules are displayed on the notice-board in room C, the important points are summarised below.
Do not remove any item from the library, even for a short period, without having completed a loan card.
You are responsible for any items borrowed in your name until they are returned. Please ensure that if you pass a library book on to someone else a new loan card is completed.
To prevent accidental damage, please do not consume food or drink in the library. The link room next to the annex may be used for this purpose.
Please do not hold meetings or supervisions within the library, without first obtaining the Librarians consent.
Contacting the library
Institute of Astronomy Library, Madingley Road, Cambridge, CB3 0HA.