Cambridge University Library


The UL’s hidden asset

"This Library is one of the gems of the civilised world: it houses treasure troves of great and rare manuscripts; it restores and conserves damaged pages with immaculate care; it opens its vast and ever increasing collections to all who love books. It serves the written form of language, from the most humdrum to the most intriguingly arcane, with unsurpassed dedication."

Dame Joan Bakewell,
Writer and Broadcast

To the reader, what makes a great library is the quality and speed of its service, as well as the strength of its collections. With two million books on open stacks immediately accessible to readers, and an average waiting time for a book from the closed stacks of just 20 minutes, the quality of Cambridge University Library’s service is without parallel.

at RCS exhibition

HRH The Prince of Wales in the Library in May 2008

Moreover, what the reader sees is just the tip of the iceberg. Behind its 100 miles of shelves are the 350 highly motivated and expert people who acquire, catalogue, preserve and disseminate the millions of items that comprise the Library’s collections; guide its users to them and help them to use its resources, whether they are on parchment, in printed form or electronic.

With the proliferation of printed materials and the radical effects of digital technology and its attendant issues of data integrity, the role of the librarian as guide and facilitator is becoming increasingly important. “Although technology is vastly changing their roles,” wrote Stephen Abram, Vice-President of Micromedia Proquest, Canada’s largest electronic publisher, “librarians are still seen as ‘trusted agents’, and their role as navigators of the Internet will be critical to everyday life.”

Funding opportunities

Some the Library’s most senior, high-profile positions are available to be endowed, thus ensuring the Library’s legacy for the benefit of future generations read more.

The post of the University Librarian itself, one of the most senior positions in the University and one of the most prestigious such posts in the world; and of Deputy Librarian. As well as being responsible for running this great institution, these two post-holders play a major national and international role as policy-makers, serving on strategic committees and helping to formulate strategy for the world’s great research libraries.

The Keeper of Manuscripts is responsible for curating and making available some of the most fascinating, rare and beautiful literary records in the world, from the Darwin Papers to illuminated medieval manuscripts, military archives and the Papers of Sir Isaac Newton and the Royal Greenwich Observatory Archives.

Maps, Music and Medicine, are just a few examples of the resources under the care of the Heads of Department. Along with Specialist posts in Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew and Japanese, these librarians and scholars bring an extraordinarily diverse range of expertise to Cambridge, and are internationally recognised experts in their fields. 

chinese collection
special collection
RCS exhibition

The Head of Electronic Services and Systems is charged with nothing short of bringing about a quiet revolution. Cambridge is in the vanguard of digital developments in scholarship, and the Head of ESS is both the flag-bearer and the person responsible for strategic implementation of the Digital Library.

A new Marketing and Exhibitions Officer would enable Cambridge to extend its reach and, particularly through new technology, bring the Library to a yet wider public community of users, transcending boundaries of geography and means.

To maintain its value to the nation, developing the next generation of leaders and innovators in the provision of library services is a high priority. Accordingly, Cambridge University Library is committed to a far-sighted programme of Internships and Staff development. This dynamic process of development has been given significant impetus recently by a prescient and generous donation from the Arcadia Trust, and is open to ongoing philanthropic support and involvement.

To find out more about how your support could enhance our ability to maintain the highest international standards of scholarship, and to arrange a visit to meet the people behind the shelves, please contact us.