Information Skills Blog - catalogues

from the Wolfson College Library

Let us shine a light on tips and tools to support your research process. This week: catalogues.

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To launch this series on key types of resources, I am starting at the very beginning: with catalogues.

This, of course, requires some defining since many databases might also be referred to in this way. By catalogues, I mean tools that search the physical and electronic collections held by libraries. Now that you have all settles into Cambridge life, I though that a recap on the University’s catalogue would be a good starting place while also highlighting a couple of other key tools.


This is the tool to search the books, journals, maps, conference papers, newspapers and more held by The University of Cambridge. It shows you results from the University Library, departmental and faculty libraries, and most college libraries too. You can find out where a book is and whether it is available. If not, you can recall it. If you have found an e-resource, you should be able to access it from anywhere in the world with your Raven login. There are a few exceptions but information is always included in the item details

There are three ways of searching iDiscover:

  • Cambridge Libraries Collections: books (printed and electronic), other physical library content and Apollo, the Cambridge institutional repository.
  • Articles and online resources: Articles online (both in peer-reviewed journals and from other sources), databases, electronic journals and other online content.
  • Everything: All of the resources covered by the Cambridge Libraries Collections and Articles and online resources searches.

It is best to use the advanced search to narrow down your results owing to the huge number of individual resources that it indexes.

There are also lots of added features such as:

  • check your library account to see what you have request or what you have out on loan
  • save searches, pin specific items
  • email item details to yourself, generate an citation to copy into a document or export it into reference management software such as Zotero or Mendeley.

For more tips on how to get started look at our Wolfson College LibGuide or the iDiscover LibGuide.

Other catalogues


This searches the combined catalogues of over 90 UK and Irish academic, national & specialist libraries including the British Library. You get information about availability and access and it is linked to GoogleBooks so that you can preview texts. Cambridge University Library is indexed, but the college and departmental libraries are not; you’ll need to use iDiscover for those.

If you need access to a printed work which is held at another library, you can visit (always contact them in advance) or request that it is sent to Cambridge using an Inter-library Loan. There is a fee for this service.

Link to COPAC, and also the French and Spanish equivalents, from the Cambridge Databases Catalogues list.


As the name suggests, this is an international catalogue, which indexes collections from over 40 000 libraries. These are primarily in the United States, but 82 countries are included. Be aware that it includes e-resources, which you won’t be able to access, as well as Special Collections and Archives, which you would need to visit in person. Link to WorldCat from the databases page.