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Cambridge University Library

Library user browsing shelves on South Front

Browse the open shelves.

Our Browse, Borrow & Read service is available to all registered users. Please make sure you are registered and your card is in date before coming to the Library. You will not be able to register in person on the day.

Browse, Borrow & Read is available at the University Library 10:45-16:45 Monday-Friday and 11:00-14:30 Saturday. Last entry to the Library is 10 minutes before the stacks close. This service does not require advance booking, allowing you to find the items you want on the Library's open stacks. If your account includes borrowing rights, you can do so at the Reader Services Desk in the Entrance Hall.

This service does not require advance booking.


Which collections can I access?

Monday - Friday you can look for books housed in North Front, North Wing, South Front, South Wing, the Anderson Room and Aoi Pavilion. On Saturdays, North Front, North Wing, South Front, South Wing and Aoi are accessible - you won't be able to visit the Anderson Room.

Books on West Four or those ordered to the Reading Room must be requested in advance. All library users can book to access these items. You may sit and study in the open stacks, but you won't be able to study in the reading rooms.

This booking does not enable you to consult material ordered to the reading rooms; you need to make an appointment to access these resources. You will not be able to order reading room items on the day, or study in the reading rooms; these must be booked in advance.


What do I need to know before I arrive?

We have adapted our ways of working in line with Public Health England advice, including safety principles and the need for social distancing for both staff and users, so you will find aspects of your visit to the Library unfamiliar.

  • Please scan the NHS Test and Trace QR code on your way in, or provide us with your name and phone number.
  • iDiscover terminals to look up the classmarks of the material you are interested in are available, but you may wish to look these up ahead of your visit, or bring a mobile device with you. 
  • Arrive confident that you will be able to find the items that you are interested in; staff are not able to help you to find your books at the moment. You may find it useful to check this Library floorplan and familiarise yourself with the UL classmark system with this short video.
  • If you are disabled and need assistance in collecting the items you need, please email Please be aware that the open stacks are narrow in places and may be difficult to navigate. In the event of a fire, lifts may not be available.
  • Wearing a face covering in all areas of the Library to keep everyone safe is encouraged.
  • You will see safety measures including social distancing reminders, hand sanitizer points and hand-washing facilities throughout the building.
  • If you require assistance with any aspect of your visit, please email and we will be pleased to help you. 


What services will be available?

You will be able to:

  • consult items on the open shelves
  • submit enquiries to staff via email. You can send an enquiry to and we will do our best to help you on the spot
  • use the toilets. Washroom facilities are open with enhanced cleaning procedures
  • use the photocopiers. Scanning is free, if you wish to photocopy please make sure your account is credited before you arrive (top up your account here). It is not possible to credit your account at the Reader Services Desk. You may prefer to place a digital imaging request or use personal cameras.
  • use the locker room to leave coats and bags. Please bring essential items only into the Library
  • take a break in the courtyards, Tea Room and spaces outside the library. A vending machine and water fountain is available in the Tea Room
  • buy hot drinks and cakes from VG Coffee outside the library entrance, Tuesday-Friday.


You will not be able to:

  • access closed stack items (marked on iDiscover as "order in Reading Room" or "order in West Room")
  • order items to reading rooms
  • study in the reading rooms
  • use public computers
  • sit and study in North Front 1, 2 or South Front 1, 2. This is to allow for social distancing in these areas.

We ask that you do not come to the Library if you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms of Covid-19.


Image by @AlicetheCamera for Cambridge University Libraries