Using the Library remotely

If you are working from home or in self-isolation, this page will give you everything you need to be able to effectively use library resources, even if you can't access the library building. If you can't find what you want, then don't hesitate to get in touch with us on

Lean Library

If you're working away from Cambridge, make sure you've downloaded and enabled the Lean Library plugin. This will automatically detect when you have access to journal articles and databases via your Cambridge credentials. And even better, it will automatically deliver you an Open Access version of an article - if one is available - whenever Cambridge University Libraries do not provide subscription access.


You can find the vast majority of the University's ebooks via iDiscover, and make sure to check out the ebooks LibGuide for a full list of providers and the few collections that don't appear on iDiscover (EEBO etc.). If you still can't find the book you're looking for, then please get in touch with us and we may well be able to find it for you! We can currently provide the following services:

  • arranging access to ebooks;
  • posting books from our collections to addresses within the UK;
  • delivering books to students in self-isolation;
  • scanning books from our collections (either one chapter or up to 5%, whichever is greater, in compliance with UK Copyright Law).

You can also request scans of books from your faculty library or the University Library through their Scan and Deliver service. For more details of all the University Library's services, see their new webpage.

Ejournals and databases

Many of you will already be used to accessing journal articles and databases online, but it's still worth sharing a few tips and tricks to ensure you don't get stuck.

For journal articles, iDiscover is still the best way to search, either using the 'Cambridge Libraries Online' tab to find the specific journal, or using the 'Articles and online resources' to search for individual articles. If you're using your Lean Library plugin then you should get seamless access to articles you then wish to read. If you're searching via Google Scholar then make sure you have your 'Library links' enabled to access Cambridge material easily (Settings -- Library links -- search for 'University of Cambridge - ejournals@cambridge' -- tick to enable). If you still can't access a journal article you want, then an inter-library loan may be available - see below for details.

For databases, the A-Z Databases list is the best place to see everything. You can filter this list via subject or database type to see the resources that are most useful for you. Again, make sure you've enabled your Lean Library plugin to ensure seamless access to your databases.

Other resources

There are a wealth of other resources available for you to access online. The best place to find the ones relevant to your subject is the A-Z Databases list, but some important ones are also listed here:

Audio-visual resources

The audio-visual resources LibGuide indicates the wealth of online access we have in this area, from streaming films and plays to accessing art and music. Some great ones to note are Kanopy, for independent, foreign and documentary films; Digital Theatre Plus, for productions, interviews and essays on theatre from Shakespeare to Harold Pinter; and ARTstor, which provides access to millions of images from museums and art galleries around the world.


If you need to access newspapers for source material, then the newspapers LibGuide lists all the archives we are currently subscribed to. The University also currently has trial access to the Gale Cengage newspaper platform, where many other archives are available, including the Daily Mail, Financial Times and Sunday Times back catalogues. These titles do not yet appear in iDiscover or the A-Z databases so the above link is the only way to access them.

Official publications

While some official publications are only available physically in a library, many resources are available to access online, and are available via the LibGuide. Various datasets, statistics information, legislation and judgments are still open to you. For law reports and case law, please check Westlaw and LexisNexis or contact the Squire Law Library for more assistance with law resources.

Theses and dissertations

Theses and dissertations are still available to access electronically via Cambridge's institutional repository, Apollo, and through various other online portals, such as EThOS. The LibGuide gives more guidance about other platforms through which you can search for theses and dissertations from around the world.

Inter-library loans

If you can't access the resource you want through any of the usual channels, then you may still be able to get hold of it through an inter-library loan.

Electronic inter-library delivery is possible for journal articles or dissertations, and this is currently a free service.  IMPORTANT: this could be withdrawn at short notice as we are dependent on services of other institutions, particularly the British Library, being maintained. Please check available resources carefully before sending your request in.

Contact the following with your request:

Please note that although this service is currently free, Cambridge University Libraries reserve the right to impose a cap on the number of requests.

Research and study skills

We are still here to help you with any issues you might have with literature searching, referencing, using resources or any other study skills. If you have any questions don't hesitate to get in touch and we do our best to help you, either by providing one-to-one assistance or pointing you towards resources you can access online. CamGuides and the Wolfson Academic Skills LibGuide are both great resources for expanding your skills or locating key information.


If you're unsure about which referencing style you should be using, then either check your subject here or contact your DoS or supervisor for clarification. Once you know which style to use then Cite Them Right is a fount of knowledge and examples of how to apply your style to each resource you wish to reference, from book chapters to YouTube videos!

You can also see the slides from our referencing workshop, which gives an overview of why, what and how to reference as well as tips and tricks to help you along the way.

Reference management software

If you want to make your referencing as painless as possible, then we recommend using reference management software to log your reading and insert it into your writing automatically. There are many examples of this - EndNote, RefWorks, Mendeley, BibTeX - but we recommend Zotero, as it's free, easy to use and open-source.

Our Zotero handout gives you all the key information to set up your account and start using Zotero to import and insert references for yourself. If you're struggling or you can't figure something out, the Zotero documentation and FAQs are excellent, but you can always ask us too and we'll do our best to help.

Wellbeing and leisure resources

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing is vital during this time, so here are some resources to help you do that, including some great tips for online resources you can use when you're taking a break!

Wellbeing and mental health

Even if you're away from Cambridge, your first port of call for help with mental health and other welfare issues should be the Queens' welfare team. They are still working to support you via email, telephone and video consultations. Each member has their own specialism but any of them can refer you to the right person to deal with your enquiry, so contact them with any issues.

The University has also collated a page of advice and resources specifically linked to coronavirus, which may prove helpful. The University Counselling Service also provide support for students.

Our Good Health Guide contains many useful tips, from stress management to help with sleeping. Mindfulness and meditation can be a great way of relaxing - the Headspace app is currently providing meditations free of charge so why not give it a try?

Taking an exercise break, whether to exercise more strenuously or just to go for a walk outside, is a great way to get yourself away from screens and destress. Even if you can't leave the house, exercise is still important to your wellbeing. Why not check out these NHS 10-minute workouts you can do at home?

Leisure time

If you're still at college, check iDiscover for our fiction and non-fiction leisure reading collections, including our excellent General Collection. If you're away from Cambridge, now is the perfect time to join your local library (if you haven't already!). Local library services provide access to a wealth of online resources, from books and audiobooks to newspapers and magazines. You are all eligible to join Cambridgeshire County Library service through studying in Cambridge - why not find your home library and join there too to access even more?

For online viewing, MUBI lets you access many independent, foreign and documentary films to supplement whichever streaming services you have access to at home. The Internet Archive is also a fount of archived material, including books, films and music. And if you're missing seeing live theatre, many venues are now making their shows available online, including big names such as Fleabag and Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Lastly, stay tuned to our Twitter and Facebook pages for more tips and tricks about getting the most out of your libraries!