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An Exhibition at Cambridge University Library

8 October 2002 to
15 March 2003

Admission free

The true University
of these days
is a collection of books

Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)


Cambridge University Library, 2002

Acquiring, conserving and making these collections available has been the focus of Cambridge University Library's librarians over the centuries. What might the books tell us about the people who donated, maintained them?

Currently the Library contains more than seven million books and periodicals, one million maps and many thousands of manuscripts. Adapting to its users' needs for information in electronic formats, the Library continues daily to add books old and new to its resources.

The Library grows and changes; this exhibition tells its story over the six centuries of its existence.


600 years of

Housed in one of the most striking landmarks on the city skyline, Cambridge University Library is internationally famous for the promotion of teaching and learning.

The Library started as a small collection of books stored in the tower of Great St Mary's Church in the mid fourteenth century.

Now it occupies more than 100 miles of shelving and its collections vary hugely in age and content. Chinese oracle bones from the second millennium BC can be found alongside the latest online scientific journal; illuminated decorations in medieval manuscripts can be studied as originals and as digitised images delivered via the internet.

A reader consults an old catalogue
in the catalogue hall