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Cambridge University Libraries are gradually reopening. Access support and services to help you learn, teach and research.

Cambridge University Library


Welcome to the Munby Rare Books Reading Room. 

The first time you come into Rare Books each day, the staff member at the entry point will ask you to sign the daily register sheet. You only need to do this once each day; owing to staff shift changes, you may be asked if you have already signed in and we appreciate your understanding around this. 

Many of our books are unique, and all of them are precious. Please help us to protect and preserve them by following these guidelines:

  • Please use only pencils and computers for taking notes. You can plug your laptop into the sockets under the wooden flaps at the centre of the tables. Pens, highlighters and sticky notes are not permitted.
  • Rare Books can currently be ordered on paper slips within the Reading Room or by email to If you need assistance in the room, please ask a member of staff to help complete the slip. 
  • Please support your books while reading them. Bookstands are on all tables, cushions can be found under the windows, and book weights are available at the desk. Please return your books to the Reading Room staff when you leave; they can be reserved if you would like to consult them again. Please see our guidelines for handling Special Collections material.
  • No food or drink may be brought into the Room, including bottled water; you are welcome to use the courtyards and the Tea Room for refreshment breaks.
  • For the security of our collections, we need to ensure that no Rare Books are removed from the Reading Room. Please have your books, papers and/or laptop ready for checking by staff at the exit gate when you leave. If you wish to reserve any books for use on another day, please let staff know when you return them.
  • Photography of books fetched to the Room is allowed, subject to the condition of the book. If you would like to photograph an item, please show it to a member of staff first.

If you have any other enquiries please ask any member of staff.

The image above is from Thomas Rowlandson's infamous cartoon of The Public Library at Cambridge. 

Contact us

Rare Books Department
Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR

Phone: 01223 333117 (Reading Room)
Phone: 01223 333122 (Curatorial Staff)