Welcome to Michaelmas Term 2023

The library tower stands against a blue sky behind red maple leaves

A very warm welcome from your libraries, whether you’re here for the first time, returning to your studies, or changing pace in your research and teaching now Michaelmas Term has begun.

Read on for the latest from the UL and your Cambridge libraries…

A Reader Services librarian greets four Freshers

Know your libraries

New to Cambridge?

Explore a round-up of the essentials – the support and resources available to you through Cambridge libraries

Two librarians are in conversation over the Reader Services desk

What's new this term?

For those of you already familiar with the University Library, discover what’s new this term

Four people enjoy a drink in the Spitting Image exhibition

Stay for the buzz!

Learn what's on!

Enjoy our tea room and shop, and take part in our fantastic programme of Exhibitions and events. 

A smiling reader asks a librarian for help
A reader wearing a blue headscarf types at a laptop on a desk in the Main Reading Room
A computer screen in the Reading Room displays the 'iDiscover' catalogue logo

Get to know your libraries

Cambridge has a wealth of libraries (over 100!) and we can help you find the resources and services suited to your work, whether you’re exploring the library sites themselves or looking for support from your room or desktop.

CamGuides provide a great introduction to life in the University and the city. There are guides tailored for Undergraduates, Master’s students and those starting a PhD, all designed to help you find your feet as you navigate your new routines and ways of learning and researching.

The November version of yourself will thank you for bookmarking our guide to library essentials, which covers using the library catalogue iDiscover, borrowing, using your reading lists online, and finding and using ebooks and online resources. The guide also talks you through accessible library services. Save the link now and you can refer back to it throughout your studies!

As term begins, you’ll be able to join inductions across the libraries in your College and departments.

Why not test your skills at the University Library (the UL) by taking on the ‘Beat the Library’ game in October? It's not your average induction - 8 challenges will introduce you to our incredible spaces and let you know the countless ways the library can support you during your studies (and there are prizes)!

Study Skills Catalogue

Sign up to the Library Study Skills Catalogue to discover all the study skills training and research support available through your libraries this term.

From getting started with critical reading to tackling a literature review, and even booking a 1-2-1 skills support session with a librarian, self-enrol on the Moodle course with your Raven details, and explore the opportunities tailored for your subject at all levels.


Our LibGuides are always available online, providing instant help on accessing resources for your subject, along with guidance on study skills such as referencing and avoiding plagiarism.

A post holds a blue cube sign that reads 'Help Desk'
A library user sits in a leather armchair, using his laptop with one hand and holding open a book in the other

Read on to learn more about what's new this term...

Find your space

The website Spacefinder helps you search for a workspace that suits you. Choose your parameters – are you looking for group space or individual working, somewhere with a relaxed vibe, or historic? – and take your pick from all the suitable sites around the city.

Spacefinder has been updated this summer, and you can now filter results even further to show spaces that are open at the time you are searching, and spaces where you can access an electronic legal deposit terminal. Many spaces now also include a link to AccessAble information.

Our evolving library

We aim to make our growing collections available to you in a flexible and accessible way whilst we continue to look after them and maintain our historic building.

This means you will see that the use of space is continually evolving in the University Library, in our Storage Facility in Ely, and across the wider libraries community at the University. Please speak to our Reader Services staff if you can’t find material where you are expecting it to be.

This term, essential repair work on the roof of the West Room will be carried out. The north corridor outside the Reading Room is accessible only to staff for the duration of the works, which we expect to take around six months. You'll find signage to help you to take different routes on the first floor of the library. There will be some noise at times. Every effort will be made to keep this to a minimum, and our Reader Services team can help you find alternative workspace away from the disruption.

A student reads whilst sitting on a sofa. In the background, another person sits in an acoustic booth.
A Reader Services librarian smiles over the top of a computer screen at a user in the Reading Room
A library user looks at her laptop screen at a desk in the library


Through the libraries, you have access to nearly a million e-books, over 100,000 e-journals, and around 900 databases. All UL members can access these resources in the library, and current members of the University can access them from anywhere via the University Raven log-in.

Our user guides help you search for ejournals and ebooks and access them in full.

Our top tip for the start of term - install the following two browser extensions in order to access full text articles quickly and without fuss...

'LibKey Nomad' links you to full text articles when they are available from Cambridge University Libraries. Once you've installed it, you only need to authenticate once via Raven in any new browser session.  

Lean Library automatically detects when you are on a website and you have access thanks to the subscriptions of Cambridge University Libraries. It will also automatically deliver you an Open Access version of an article - if one is available - whenever our libraries do not provide subscription access.

Our electronic collections develop rapidly - if you are on X, follow @ejournalscamb and @ebookscamb for announcements about new resources, along with up-to-the-minute information about access.

Spotlighting different voices in Open Research 

In November this year, Cambridge University Libraries will host our annual one-day conference focusing on Open Research at Cambridge.

‘Open Research for Inclusion: Spotlighting Different Voices in Open Research at Cambridge' takes place at Downing College on Friday 17 November 2023 and also online.

Open Research at Cambridge aims to promote equity and inclusion by ensuring that research is accessible to all, regardless of research background, location, or affiliation. The conference will illustrate the value of Open Research in areas which have traditionally been left out of the conversation, including research from and about the Global South. We will explore how Open Research can look different in different areas, and showcase the scope and breadth of open practices in typically under-represented disciplines and contexts - including Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, and the GLAM sector (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums).   

We warmly welcome researchers, students, librarians and administrators across the University of Cambridge at every career stage.

A group of researchers sit in a circle
A member of our conservation team stands next to a book of photographs

University Library Research institute

In May this year we launched the University Library Research Institute (ULRI), a vibrant, inclusive community of researchers and practitioners at all career stages working together to make a difference to culture and society through collections-led research. The Institute collaborates with institutions locally, nationally and internationally, generating opportunities across and beyond disciplines. 

Find out more about the University Library Research Institute, learn how it could support your research, and discover events to join.

A visitor to the Spitting Image exhibition 'shakes' a latex hand

What's On

Our Autumn-Winter events and exhibitions programme is now open for booking, for all our library members and visitors. You’re welcome to enjoy drinks, cakes and light lunches in the Tea Room with your free exhibition ticket. You’ll find beautiful gifts inspired by our collections and exhibitions in the Entrance Hall shop.

Be the first to know what’s happening at the UL - sign up to our ‘What’s On’ newsletter for updates on our events and exhibitions

Spitting Image: A Controversial History

Savage, grotesque, hilarious – the satirical television show Spitting Image first aired in 1984 and went on to be a cultural phenomenon. This new exhibition details the rubbery puppet show’s roots in Cambridge’s art and satire scene, its development into one of the most watched and discussed TV programmes of the 1980s, and how it shaped society’s view of royalty, politicians, and celebrity.

The Footlights Illuminated curated by the Cambridge Footlights

Opening in the North and South Galleries this new exhibition explores the history and identity of the world-renowned student comedy group and asks: who are ‘The Cambridge Footlights’ anyway?

A fantastic programme of events accompanies these exhibitions. Join our curators, guest speakers and the creatives behind the show to take a closer look at British satire and the world of Spitting Image.

The latex head of Roger Law, co-creator of Spitting Image, is displayed in a glass case in front of a red wall

Photo by Raphaelle Goyeau

Photo by Raphaelle Goyeau

Two people look up at a poster advertising a Footlights production

Photo by Raphaelle Goyeau

Photo by Raphaelle Goyeau

A person turns the page of A. S Byatt's 'Possession' whilst curled up in a chair in the Tearoom

The Really Popular Book Club

Everyone is welcome to join us each month to discuss a really popular book with CUL’s book group. Hosted on Zoom by library staff with an expert on the novel, the book club is completely free and open to everyone - people attend from all over the world. 

The club celebrates the huge range of books at Cambridge University Library – this season, we’ll be discussing both Jane Austen and Jeffrey Archer! We have more than 8 million books and, as a legal deposit library, we keep a copy of every book published in the UK, and have done for more than 300 years.

Explore our What’s On Guide and book tickets

Cambridge libraries look forward to seeing you this Autumn!

Images by Alice Boagey @AlicetheCamera or as credited.
Story and design by Hannah Haines

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.