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Access online and zero-contact services across our libraries. Limited in-person services are available at the UL and in some Faculty and Department libraries. Visit Using the Library for information on services and support to help you study, teach and research.

Cambridge University Library

 
Reader consulting manuscript

All registered library users can book to consult Special Collections.

Please make sure you have registered or renewed your library card before booking.

University of Cambridge students and staff can also book to consult non-borrowable modern material, and electronic legal deposit material at the University Library. 

 

Who can book a visit? 

Special Collections are available to all registered library users. Non-borrowable modern material and electronic legal deposit are available to all current staff and students at the University of Cambridge. 

In order to maintain resilient services that support current students and researchers at the University during this very restrictive time, it has been necessary to limit the availability of some services. We know how frustrating it is for our many readers who are not yet able to access the full range of library services – we really hope to be able to welcome you back as soon as it is safe and possible to do so. Please explore our online resources and remote support services and our zero-contact services for other ways to access the libraries.      

 

Which collections can I access?  

You can request to see specific items from the following areas: 

 

  • non-borrowable modern material

    • non-borrowable items published post-1900 that would previously be read in the UL’s West Room (this material is marked on iDiscover as ‘not borrowable’)

    • reference items from reading rooms around the UL

    • items from the Library Storage Facility.

 

  • electronic legal deposit material

 

Please note, you will need to request in advance the items you want to consult, using the forms below. During your visit, you will also be welcome to browse the open shelves and, if you have borrowing rights, you will be able to select material to borrow.

 

How do I use this service?      

Special Collections

Book to consult Special Collections material

Click above and complete the form listing the material you would like to consult. We appreciate that it may be difficult to determine what an item is, particularly for archival material. Please give us as much information as you can and we will contact you if necessary to clarify your request. 

We will confirm that your material is available and will invite you to book an appointment to visit the Special Collections Reading Room. You will need to wait for us to send this email confirmation to book an appointment; appointments cannot be booked in advance of this notification. If you are not yet registered with the University Library or your membership has expired, please visit our library membership pages for details of how to register or renew your library membership in advance of your visit.

Special Collections Reading Room sessions are available 10:00-13:15 and 13:45-17:00 Monday-Friday, 11:30-15:15 on Saturdays. 

Seating capacity has been reduced in line with guidance on maintaining a Covid-secure environment and you may book six sessions per week.

 

Non-borrowable modern material

Book to consult non-borrowable modern material

Click above and complete the form listing the material you would like to consult; please give as much information as you can. You may order up to three items. 

We will confirm that your material is available and will invite you to book an appointment to visit the Main Reading Room. You will need to wait for us to send this email confirmation to book an appointment; appointments to consult non-borrowable material cannot be booked in advance of this notification.

Main Reading Room sessions to consult non-borrowable material are available 09:30-13:30 and 14:00-18:00 Monday-Friday and 11:15-14:45 on Saturdays. 

Seating capacity has been reduced in line with guidance on maintaining a Covid-secure environment and you may book two sessions per week.

Unfortunately, some items are not currently available, including audiovisual material. 

 

Electronic legal deposit material

Book to consult ELD

Sessions to consult ELD in the Main Reading Room are available 09:30-13:30 and 14:00-18:00 Monday-Friday and 11:15-14:45 on Saturdays.

Reservations are available one week in advance and appointments can be booked up to 24 hours before.

Seating capacity has been reduced in line with guidance on maintaining a Covid-secure environment and you may book two sessions per week.

Please do not travel to the University Library if you have not received confirmation of your booking, as we will be unable to admit you. 

 

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 be aware of the following points: ​

  • Your entry and exit times will be recorded by staff for the purposes of Test and Trace. We would ask you to arrive at the start time of your session and where possible not to exit and re-enter during your timeslot.

  • Government guidelines state that face coverings should be worn in libraries and public reading rooms. We therefore ask readers visiting the UL to wear a face covering in all areas of the Library to keep everyone safe. We are highly sensitive and supportive to those staff and readers who are exempt from the expectation. Please visit the University’s Coronavirus Information pages for a helpful list of medical exemptions. 

  • You will see safety measures including social distancing reminders, one-way systems, hand sanitizer points and hand-washing facilities throughout the building.

  • Please bring only the essential items you need for study into the Library.

  • If you require assistance with any aspect of your visit, let us know when you book and we will be pleased to help you. 

 

What services will be available? 

You will be able to: 

  • submit enquiries to staff via email. Although face to face enquiry points are not operational, staff will respond to email enquiries. You can send an enquiry to the email address displayed on the desk and we will do our best to help you on the spot.  
  • browse the Library's collections on the open shelves and select material to borrow (if you have borrowing rights).
  • browse the reference collection on the Reading Room shelves.
  • use the toilets. Washroom facilities are open with enhanced cleaning procedures. 
  • use the cloakroom to leave coats and bags. Please only bring essential items 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.
  • buy hot food 12:00-14:00 Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from Cambridge foodPark at the UL. 

 

You will not be able to:  

  • bring food or drinks including bottled water into the Special Collections Reading Room. Find Special Collections Reading Room Handling Guidelines here.
  • use photocopiers or printers. You may be able to place a digital imaging request or use personal cameras.   
  • use public computers or catalogue terminals. 

   

Test and Trace

In addition to collecting contact details as part of our normal booking process, in line with guidance from the Department for Health and Social Care, we will ask you for your phone number and record the times of your visit in order to reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus. We will keep these details for 21 days. All personal data will be held in accordance with the Library’s privacy policy and with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We will share your contact details with NHS Test and Trace, if asked, in the event of a fellow user or staff member testing positive for coronavirus. NHS Test and Trace will handle all data according to the highest ethical and security standards and ensure it is used only for the purposes of protecting public health, including minimising the transmission of COVID-19. 

 

We ask that you do not attend any appointments if you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms of Covid-19.

 

Image by @AlicetheCamera for Cambridge University Libraries