Cambridge University Library


Frequently Asked Questions

Who can use the Library?
All members of the University of Cambridge are welcome to use the Library.
Academic staff, postgraduate and research students from other universities can apply to use the Library for reference. Undergraduate students from other UK universities can apply to access the Library for reference during Cambridge vacations.
Private and business researchers may apply to use the Library for reference if their research requires access to materials held at the University Library. Please note that researchers wishing to access the University Library must be aged 18 years or over.
A £10 administration charge for 6 months (or £20 for 12 months) applies to applicants from non-UK universities and the public.
Please refer to our 'Admissions webpages' for full details.

Where is the Library?
The University Library is on West Road. It can also be reached by foot or bicycle from Burrell's Walk [Map].

When is the UL open?
The Library is open Monday to Friday 9.00-19.15, and 9.00-17.00 on Saturdays. The bookstacks close at 19.00 on weekdays and 16.45 on Saturdays, so you'll need to arrive before this time if you want to find a book or journal. The Library is closed on Sundays and for holiday periods: click here for further details.

How do I contact the library?
For general enquiries, telephone (01223) 333000 or email We are also on Facebook and Twitter (@theUL). For enquiries to specific departments, please consult the list of contacts. The postal address is Cambridge University Library, West Road, Cambridge CB3 9DR. The fax number is 01223 333160.

What material does the Library hold?
Cambridge University Library is a legal deposit library, meaning that it is entitled to claim a copy of every publication in printed form published in the UK and Ireland. Almost all of this material is claimed and can be consulted in the Library. It also holds extensive collections of books, journals, maps, microfilms, photographs and sound recordings published overseas and has extensive special collections of rare books, manuscripts, and other materials.

How do I use the catalogues to search for resources in the Library?
You can check for materials in the Library using one of three online catalogues.
LibrarySearch offers a quick way to search library collections across the University from a single place and is ideal for quickly locating a copy of a book.
LibrarySearch+, covers the online article and database collections of the University, useful for locating articles.
The Newton catalogues provide a more traditional way to search for books and journals. Be sure to choose the right link for your library.

The catalogue says I need to 'order' a book. What does that mean?
Around 60% of books and journals in the UL are stored in closed access areas. These items need to be requested in advance and are then fetched for you by staff members. Don't worry: it usually only takes between 15-45 minutes to fetch a book.
If the item you want has the message 'Order in Reading Room' or 'Order in West Room', you should normally be able to place an online stack request in advance. 
Click here for more details about requesting books online via your Newton Account - or, if you're in the UL, visit the Reading Room or West Room enquiry desk to place a request in person.

The Library is a big place. How do I find my way around the building?
Introductory tours are available during term-time, explaining the catalogues, shelving arrangements, closed access collections and book-fetching. There is an online Library floorplan to help you find your way around. The Library staff will also be pleased to help you.

 Can I check my email at the UL?
Computer workstations can be found at the following locations:

  • Commonwealth Room (16 DRA workstations and a network printer)
  • West Room (10 DRA workstations and a network printer)
  • Rare Books and Manuscripts (6 DRA workstations)
  • Aoi Reading Room (4 DRA workstations)
  • North Wing – floors 1,3 and 5 (6 DRA workstations)

You will first need to register for a Digital Resources Access (DRA) account which provides access to IT facilities plus printing, photocopying and scanning. You can apply online for an account.
Alternatively if you have your own laptop you can use the wireless network within the Library. Wireless internet is accessed via your Raven password which is issued by the University Information Services.

How can I photocopy?
To use the photocopiers at the UL, you will first need to register for a DRA account. This will provide access to IT facilities plus printing, photocopying and scanning. You can apply online for an account.
Self-service photocopying costs 10p per A4 page. For details of other services (e.g. colour copying) check out the Imaging Services site.

Can I scan material in the UL?
Yes, self-service scanning facilities are available. Scans cost 8p per page (.TIF or .PDF file) and can be e-mailed to your registered address.
To use the scanners, you will first need to register for a DRA account. This will provide access to IT facilities plus printing, photocopying and scanning. You can apply online for an account.

Can I take my rucksack in?
You'll need to leave any large bags, including laptop cases, in the locker room next to the Entrance Hall before going into the Library.
You can take any books (including books from other libraries), files and stationery into the Library. Clear plastic bags can be purchased for 20p at the Reader Services Desk in the Entrance Hall.

Can I take my lunch into the UL?
There is a Tea Room in the Library serving snacks and hot lunches, plus a water fountain. The Tea Room opens 9.30-17.00 during the week and 10.00 until 14.00 on Saturdays.

If you would prefer to bring your own food, you are welcome to eat in the courtyards or in the Tea Room. However, please do not take food or drinks into the bookstack areas or the Library reading rooms.

What happens if I lose a book?

If you have lost books which you have borrowed from the Library’s collections the loss must be reported as soon as possible to the staff at the Reader Services Desk in the Entrance Hall (tel. 01223 333030) or by email to For further details of the replacement procedure, please see Lost books.

What happens if a book is stolen from me?

Stolen books should be reported to the Reader Services Desk in the Entrance Hall (tel. 01223 333030) or by email to If a police report or crime number is submitted to the Reader Services Desk, the Library will waive the administrative fee in replacing the book.  However the replacement cost of the book will still need to be paid. 

What should I do when the fire alarm sounds?

In the event of a fire, there will be a loud continuous alarm and you should leave the building immediately via the nearest fire exit.

A plan of the Ground Floor Fire Exits is given.

The assistance that staff will be able to give, depending on whether the alarm is during core hours or outside of them, is described in the Summary of fire Emergency Procedure.  Readers with disabilities are advised to look at the section on drafting a Personal Emergency Evacuation Plan (PEEP).

Readers with mobility impairments are encouraged to look at the full description of the assistance available during an alarm depending on the time of day and the study area that is being used.