Searching for a book on the shelves

Finding Books

With the book stacks located on one floor, the Library is of a manageable size for browsing. However, we strongly recommend you use the online catalogue to locate particular titles, because so many books are circulating at any one time.

Searching for a book on the shelves

Finding books

Starting your search

If you start your search from the iDiscover main page you will retrieve results from all of the libraries which contribute to the iDiscover catalogue (the UL, most faculty and departmental libraries, and most colleges) and must go on to select Wolfson College from the drop-down menu of locations (on the right hand side of any results page) in order to limit your search to the Lee Library holdings.

Some useful notes to help with searching can be found on this iDiscover LibGuide or from our our own LibGuide page, including videos. If you have any questions about search strategies, or need assistance with a particular enquiry, please ask the Librarian or attend a WolfWorks session. 

Viewing catalogue records

Your initial results page will give you the brief record(s) of any book(s) matching your search terms. Click on any of the underlined areas in the record you want in order to view the full record, at the bottom of which is a section headed 'item availability', which lists the libraries which hold a copy or copies of the book, along with the book's classmark at that library, and availability information.

Finding the book on the shelf

Books in the Lee Library are classified according to a modified version of the Dewey Decimal Classification (20th edition). The Dewey number can be found at the top of the spine of the book. Because there may be more than one book classified to that number, each book is given a running number (the number in brackets in the classmark, found at the bottom of the book's spine) so that you can pinpoint it exactly in the sequence of books on the shelf. So, the book with classmark 339 (16) is the 16th book in the sequence of books classified at 339 (the classmark for macroeconomics).

Using the Floorplan of the Reading Room, which shows the location of each sequence of classmarks (i.e. each subject area) in the library, you should be able to find the book on the shelves (provided it is not on loan). Please ask a member of Library staff if you are having difficulty.

Books with classmarks including the word 'Stack' are shelved in the basement and need to be fetched by Library staff. Most of these items are borrowable, but for reasons of space are not shelved in the main Reading Room. Please do ask if you come across one of these, as we can fetch them in a very short time.

This video gives you an overview of searching for an finding books on your reading list in the Wolfson library:

Other videos are available on:


Many Cambridge books are offered in both print or electronic format. There are two types of e-books in Cambridge libraries. Those ebooks which are accessible from any computer in the world, designated by the words Online access in the catalogue, and those where online access is restricted to designated computers in the main UL + affiliate libraries.


Finding Fiction

Need a break from academic reading? We have a collection of books in the Reading Room, which you can take away and return at your leisure or there are a whole host of fiction ebooks available. They are located opposite the iDiscover PC and the Librarian's Office.