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To celebrate the Library’s 600th anniversary, join us for a series of Cambridge Science Festival events at the University Library and uncover diverse collections and archives: from spy maps to séances. The Festival runs from 7-20 March 2016 with bookings open from Monday 8 February at 10.30am.

This year, the Festival focuses on how we manage the vast amounts of data we collect and generate to increase understanding of our world. Highlights at the University Library include:


Saturday 12 March, 10:00-13:00

Encoding music

Explore the evolution of music notation through the ages, following an interactive trail around the Library. Does notation (data) need specific knowledge to (re)create sound? You’ll hear a series of music clips, then try to create some of your own!

Drop in event – no need to book, perfect for families. Click here for more information.

Tuesday 15 March, 17:30-18:30


Now you see it, now you don’t: the hidden messages in manuscripts

Cambridge University Library contains many rare items – but there is often more to them than meets the eye! Join us to discover how specialist techniques can shed new light on ancient manuscripts and see what the treasures of the Library are hiding.

Arrive on time – no need to book, places limited, ages 15+. Click here for more information.

Friday 18 March, 17:30-18:30


The Science and the Séance: investigations into the paranormal

In 1882 a group of eminent scientists with a shared interest in proving the existence of ghosts, spirits and psychic phenomena convened to form the Society for Psychical Research. This talk will use the archives of Society, deposited at the University Library, to provide a fascinating insight into the history of psychical research from the mid nineteenth century onwards.

Arrive on time – no need to book, adults. Click here for more information.

Saturday 19 March, 10:30-12:00


The balance of health: enter the world of medieval medicine

What was it like to be ill in the Middle Ages? Which kind of treatment would a medieval doctor prescribe? This session will offer a playful and interactive introduction to the world of medieval medicine, its main theories, practitioners, patients and practices according to the manuscript fragments found in the Cairo Genizah and preserved in the University Library. Come and meet the medieval doctors, surgeons and magicians of the Genizah Research Unit!

Bookable event – click here to book, perfect for families

Saturday 19 March, 14:00-16:30


Ciphers and Spy Maps

Join Dr James Grime as he explores the history and mathematics of cryptography, including the demonstration of a genuine Enigma machine. Following the talk, uncover secret spy, military and escape maps from the Library’s collections and take part in a code-breaking workshop.

Bookable event – click here to book, ages 12+

For a full list of Science Festival events taking place at the University Library, visit our What's On page.

For full details of events taking place at the University Library and across Cambridge, please visit:

Image: Multispectral imagining of manuscript (courtesy of EMEL and Lazarus Project).