Cambridge University Library

Rare Books

New collection The Library has recently acquired a collection of wholly engraved books; full details in this blog post. This detail shows a 1642 image of an engraving workshop: click for the full image.

Official Publications move to Rare Books Read more here...

Special collections blog Read more here

Visiting us this summer? Prepare for your visit

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. For a brief guide to using the room, see our Reader Guidelines. Readers intending to use the Library for the first time should contact the Admissions Office for further information and an appointment.

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

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, to make the best use of your time we recommend contacting us in advance to ensure the items you wish to see are available. The departmental email address is and we are happy to fetch books in advance; if you already have a reader's card please provide the 5-character code (e.g. va123). Full details of how to join the library are on the Admissions pages. You are welcome to bring a camera to photograph the items you are working on, subject to condition and copyright. Full guidelines for using the Rare Books Reading Room are available, if you have any enquiries ahead of your visit then please get in touch.

New publication: Members of the Rare Books department have edited and contributed to a new Library publication, Emprynted in thys manere: Early printed treasures from Cambridge University Library. Published in parallel with the Private lives of print exhibition, it comprises essays by 60 contributors.. Copies can be purchased from the University Library Reader Services Desk, or from the University's online sales service.