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The Rare Book collections of Cambridge University Library cover all subjects of study and include material from the first European printing presses in the fifteenth century up to the present day, and publications from all parts of the world. The Department is responsible for most of the older printed material in the Library, as well as more recent publications which require special care or which have interesting provenances. Information on particular rare book collections can be found in the Collections Directory.

The collections are read in the Munby Rare Books Room, on the north west corner of the first floor. For a brief guide to using the room, see our Reader Guidelines. Readers intending to use the Library for the first time should contact Reader Registration for further information and to obtain a Reader's card.

In addition to our own classes, several other collections within the Library are consulted in the Munby Rare Books Room:

  • Books from the Near and Middle Eastern and South Asian, Tibetan and Southeast Asian collections printed before 1900
  • Pre-1900 Bible Society books are ordered in the Anderson Room but read in Rare Books
  • Books, pamphlets and periodicals from the Royal Commonwealth Society
  • Official Publications material

Making the most of your visit

If you are planning to visit to the Rare Books Department, and particularly if you have limited time here, we recommend contacting us in advance to ensure the items you wish to see are available. The departmental email address is . If you already have a Reader's card, please include the five-character code (e.g. VA123). You are welcome to bring a camera to photograph the items you are working on, subject to condition and copyright and these rules. If you have any enquiries ahead of your visit then please get in touch.

Opening hours

Monday-Friday 9.00-18.50
Saturday 9.00-16.30 

Contact us

Rare Books Department
Cambridge University Library
West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DR

Phone: 01223 333117 (Reading Room)
Phone: 01223 333122 (Curatorial Staff)