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Cambridge University Library


The French collections at Cambridge University Library exist to support the curriculum and research needs of the university in the Humanities and the Social Sciences. The collections contain a comprehensive selection of works by major French writers, with a special emphasis on authors currently taught or researched at the University of Cambridge.

There are many original academic works in the humanities and the social sciences which are written in the French language. As a result, there is French language material relating not only to France and French studies, but also to all subject areas covered by the Library's acquisition policy.

The geographical coverage of the collections is particularly wide, including not only France, but areas that are or have been under French influence, such as French overseas territories and former French colonies. The Library actively continues to acquire works which are significant in the contemporary Francophone world. The collections include monographs and serials (both in paper and/or microform) and an increasing number of electronic resources (e-books, e-journals and article databases). A significant amount of printed material is available on the open shelves (see Classification).

The collection is estimated to contain over 280,000 items in French. This figure includes approximately 800 items published in the 16th century, 6000 items in the 17th century, 14,500 in the 18th century, 38,000 in the 19th century, and nearly 140,000 in the 20th century.  As of October 2017, books held by the UL published in the 21st century number over 71,000. The Library also holds many items relating to French studies in other languages, including English, German, Italian and Spanish. There is extensive coverage of subjects such as history, literature, linguistics, as well as social sciences, philosophy, fine arts and sciences. 

A variety of historical sources covering various periods in French history can be found in specialised departments (Maps, Manuscripts, Rare Rooks and Royal Commonwealth Society).

We try to feature a range of material from our collections on our blog-- please take a look at our posts featuring French material. To see our previously featured material, see our spotlight archive.

Contact us

Dr Irène Fabry-Tehranchi
Phone (external line): 01223 333094
Phone (internal network): 33094

Collections and Academic Liaison
Cambridge University Library
West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DR
United Kingdom