What’s new, and what’s essential to know?

A look ahead to Michaelmas Term 2022 at Cambridge University Library

View of a library corridor through a diamond window in a door

In one of the hottest summers we can remember, we’ve been working hard in preparation for the new academic year .

Here's a glance at what you need to know as Michaelmas Term approaches, as well as some exciting developments…

Your library spaces

Whether you’re using the library for the first time or as an old hand, make this term the one where you find your perfect UL space.
Do you prefer to work somewhere cosy or stately, sociable or hushed?

You have a wealth of options to choose from.

Woman reading a book sitting on an armchair next to a wooden door

Discover tailored workspaces in the South Wing 3 Study Hub.

Desk and chairs in the Commonwealth Room

The lofty ceilings and beautiful bookcases in the Commonwealth Room offer an airy study space with reliable wifi and Eduroam coverage and plenty of power points.

Bookable desks are available to postgraduates.

You’ll find public PCs and a Non-print Legal Deposit terminal in the room, with a scanner and copier close by – all you need to settle down for uninterrupted productivity. 

You can book an individual or a group study room here, and find our bookable Assistive Technology Room for students registered with the Disability Resource Centre at the University.

Table and chairs in the Group Study Room seen through the leaves of a peace lily plant

Our endlessly fascinating open stacks provide dozens of kilometres of reading material, with space to browse and work.

A researcher reading a book whilst seated at a desk on the open stacks. Book shelves extend behind her.

All our Reading Rooms can be used for study and consulting material without advance booking.

Students work on both sides of a desk in the Main Reading Room

Discover reference and modern collections in the graceful 1930s Main Reading Room.

Find phenomenal cartographic collections in the Map Room.

Lose yourself in music in the Anderson Room.

Explore our East Asian Collections in the Aoi Pavilion.

Enjoy sofas and desk space in the North and South Reading Rooms - now with two acoustic booths where you can find disturbance-free space for online meetings or calls.

Both the Rare Books Reading Room and the Manuscript Reading Room welcome readers using Special Collections – items including manuscripts, archives, rare books, maps, music and some modern printed material that needs additional care and protection.

From this summer, you’ll find modern printed material published before 1950 (along with some later material) is now to be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room.

Librarian opens a large map drawer showing an town map
A librarian prepares a pile of leaflets for a reader in the Rare Books Room

You now have more flexibility to use some non-borrowable modern collections material around the building
– books and journals you may have previously consulted only in the Main Reading Room (or, prior to that, in the West Room).

A students reads a book whilst lying under a blanket on a sofa

When you have ordered your items through the iDiscover catalogue, collect them from the Main Reading Room then take them to your study spot of choice in the UL building.

In a small number of cases – for instance, if the book you have ordered is particularly fragile – you’ll need to remain in the Main Reading Room to look at an item; our Reader Services Team will help you with this.

Wondering about the West Room? You may have consulted non-borrowable Modern Collections here in the past.

The West Room is an ideal space for our staff to manage the processing of material for the UL and our Storage Facility in Ely, and it closed to readers in 2020.

Services for fetching and consulting non-borrowable material now run flexibly across the library, and our Reading Rooms, open stacks and the South Wing 3 Study Hub provide abundant study space.

A researcher reads a book on the open stacks beneath a wall clock
Desk and chairs in the Commonwealth Room

Feeling peckish? We received a fantastic response to our invitation to tender to provide a catering service in the UL Tea Room, and we're really looking forward to sharing news of our exciting new supplier.

Library users eat lunch at tables in the library tea room

VG Coffee is still available at the steps of the UL to keep you supplied throughout the summer, and you can also find water and a vending machine in the Tea Room.  

We’d love you to take a closer look at some of the incredible Special Collections held by the library by visiting Darwin in Conversation in the Exhibition Centre.

Why not book a free ticket for your lunch break and stop by to see some of our famous Darwin letters and those notebooks?  

For lovers of all things literary, our Entrance Hall now hosts a shop stocked with beautiful books and gifts inspired by reading, libraries and our own unique collections.  

Finding and using material

The UL houses a collection of nearly ten million books, maps, manuscripts, photographs and priceless objects.

Early twentieth century books with gilded spines sit on a shelf in the library tower

Many of our books can be borrowed if your membership allows for this – and returned to our amazing red telephone drop box (new for 2022!). Find all the information you need about borrowing (including renewals, recalls, short loans and fines for the academic year 2022-23) in our Borrowing LibGuide.

Material that is not suitable to be borrowed can be consulted on a reference basis in the UL building.

A red K6 telephone box adapted to function as a book drop stands outside the UL

Start exploring the collections by logging into the online iDiscover catalogue.

You can do this ahead of your visit - find great tips and instructions in our Quick Guides to using iDiscover.   

A student types on a keyboard whilst looking at a screen

When you find the item you want to read, iDiscover will give you details of how to access it.

You may be directed to the open shelves or to an electronic version, or the catalogue may guide you through the process of ordering the book or journal to a particular location in the library, giving details of where to collect it and where you can consult it. 

This online ordering and fetching service now allows you to request many of the UL’s Rare Books.

If you are using other Special Collections, including archives, speak to our specialist staff who will advise you on the best ways to find material, as not all Special Collections are yet catalogued online.

A Librarian sitting at a desk with a computer helps a man who is holding a sheet of paper
An open drawer in a filing cabinet shows card catalogues listing library books

Our vast library of electronic resources, including ebooks, ejournals, and databases is available from any location worldwide (with the exception of titles received through electronic legal deposit) for current students and staff of the University of Cambridge. 

A student wearing ear buds uses a computer mouse to scroll whilst she reads from a screen

Find your essential guide to our libraries' services and support for online resources on our E-resources pages

We recommend that current members of the University of Cambridge download the browser plugin Lean Library to streamline your access to articles available through Cambridge University Libraries subscriptions or through open access.

Our Document Delivery services offer rich options if you need to extend your search further – explore our Libguide to find the best service to meet your needs, whether you’re a current student, a current member of staff, or not currently a member of the University of Cambridge.

A library users reads from a laptop screen whilst seated at a desk in the Main Reading Room

We are fortunate to have become part of the Safepod Network this year.

We welcome researchers from the region to use the University of Cambridge SafePod on the Reading Room Corridor
- a standardised safe setting to securely access datasets from different Data Centres.  

A ground-level corner of the Safepod showing metal slats and downlights illuminating the carpet

Be part of our community

If you’re preparing to start your studies at undergraduate, Master’s or PhD level, our CamGuides introduce some of the academic and information practices and skills you’ll encounter.

As term begins, our libraries offer tours, games and introductory sessions to help you find your feet, and we provide resources and workshops throughout the year to support you in developing skills for study and research.

Explore our LibGuides for guidance on every aspect of our services and facilities – from subject resources to database catalogues to study skills. The Library Essentials LibGuide is a great place to start.

Look out for our library induction programmes and use your Raven password to self-enrol on the new Library Study Skills Catalogue in Moodle, where you'll find training to support your studies and build essential skills for your future.

The Libraries Accessibility Service works across the Cambridge library network to ensure that library users have equal access to services and resources regardless of their accessibility needs – learn more in the LibGuide Cambridge Libraries: accessibility and disability.

Our libraries are so much more than places to read; we’re here in person and online to help you make the most of the resources available to you.

We want to make your experience of learning and researching in Cambridge the best it can be, and can guide, advise and support you when you need us.

We’re looking forward to talking to you!

Images by Alice Boagey @AlicetheCamera and Cambridge University Libraries
Story and design by Hannah Haines

Updated 29 September with links to information on libraries inductions, and to include news of acoustic booths in the South Reading Room.

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