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The Department has carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and has opened to allow research work to take place. To ensure the safety of our staff, a range of measures to reduce building occupancy and allow strict social distancing have been introduced, including increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. We are currently not accepting visitors so please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Plant Sciences



All the books in the Plant Sciences Library can be found on the University of Cambridge online catalogue, searched using iDiscover, although rarely with full details. Therefore, you would probably not be able to identify, for example, if an item had been owned and annotated by a particular person – but just because the catalogue does not say this about an item, it does not follow that we definitely do not have it. Moreover, since books here are issued manually, the catalogue will not tell you if a book is available for loan or consultation. Please contact us to find out.

Journals are also listed on iDiscover, but in this case the information given is likely to be very general - for example, not identifying missing parts. Once more, it is best to contact us.

Inter-library loans and photocopies

A high proportion of our books may be loaned to other libraries, and photocopies sent out, if a British Library user code is provided. We hold some almost-unique runs of older botany journals. It is much quicker to contact us directly, although it is also possible to route requests via the University Library. Please note that books identified on the catalogue as being part of the Simpson Collection or in the Cory Library cannot be loaned.


The Department has not kept much of past members’ work, nor does it have lists of ex-members of staff or students. Most of our older or more valuable material has been sent to the University Library. More information on our Archives page

Collections not in the Plant Sciences Library

  • Old and valuable books, and some manuscripts, have been sent to the University Library – Their current location, and their provenance, will be shown on iDiscover. For manuscripts you will need to consult a separate  manuscripts catalogue, to determine if they are held in the UL.
  • Simpson Collection of British Floras. Books in this collection are identified as such on Newton. They are now kept in Herbarium Library in the Sainsbury Building, and may not be borrowed. Please contact us about Simpson books – it should be possible for an appointment to be made to consult specific books.
  • Floras, monographs and taxonomic works have now also been moved to the Herbarium Library in the Sainsbury Building. The fact that they are held there will be noted on iDiscover, but their exact location will not be shown. Generally, they may be borrowed. They may also be consulted, but access to the Sainsbury Building must be arranged – Please contact us.
  • The Cory Library stock is mostly in the same location in the sainsburt Laboratory as the Herbarium Library. The Cory Library sock features books mostly related to horticulture and the plants in the Botanic Gardens, as well as some on taxonomy. The location will be identified on iDiscover. The Cory Library Librarian is currently on maternity leave but enquiries can be directed to

Advising potential visitors

Visitors are generally very welcome to use the Plant Sciences Library, but they should contact us first. In the case of the Sainsbury Library, permission needs to be sought from the Academic Librarian, and a form presented to security staff there. It is also advisable for potential visitors to check iDiscover first, and identify specific items they wish to consult.