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Student in main reading room

You can use most study space in the University Library without booking.

Please make sure you have registered or renewed your library card before coming to the Library. 

Main Reading Room

  • 9am to 6:55pm Monday to Friday.  
  • 9am to 4:45pm Saturday.

Commonwealth Room 

  • 9am to 6:45pm Monday to Friday.
  • 9am to 4:30pm Saturday.


During your visit you are welcome to:

  • use the reference collections in the Main Reading Room and Commonwealth Room
  • consult material on the electronic legal deposit terminals
  • access material ordered through inter-library loan
  • visit the open stacks
  • borrow items, if your membership permits
  • use our Study Hub


If you need to consult non-borrowable material in the UL collections you will need to order the items ahead of time. 'Non-borrowable material' includes:

  • Special Collections (this material is not borrowable, and will take a few hours to arrive once you've requested it).
  • modern material that appears on iDiscover with the instruction 'Order to Main Reading Room' (this material is not borrowable, and will take a few hours to arrive once you've requested it).


Who can use a study space?  

Any user can use the Main Reading Room, the Commonwealth Room or the desks in the open stacks to study.


Acoustic booths

Any user can book acoustic booths in libraries around the University of Cambridge. These compact, well-lit individual spaces each contain a comfortable chair and desk for solo working with reduced noise and distractions.


Assistive Technology

If you need to use assistive technology whilst studying, you can book one of two PCs running Dolphin Supernova and Dragon Professional Speech-to-Text.

Find more information in our LibGuide, Cambridge libraries: accessibility and disability 


South Wing 3 Study Hub

The Study Hub on South Wing 3 comprises:

  • two single study rooms, one of which has a PC running assistive technology
  • a group study room
  • the Commonwealth Room
  • Postgraduate study space in the Commonwealth Room

Some of these rooms need to be booked - visit our Study Hub page for all the details.


What do I need to know before I arrive?

If you require assistance with any aspect of your visit, please email and we will be pleased to help you. 

You can look up the classmarks of the material you are interested in on our iDiscover terminals in the building. Alternatively, you may wish to look these up ahead of your visit or bring a mobile device with you. 

If you are disabled and need assistance in collecting the items you need, please email Please be aware that the open stacks are narrow in places and may be difficult to navigate. In the event of a fire, lifts may not be available.

Please plan to bring essential items only into the Library. You can leave coats and bags in the Locker Room.

Food and drink

  • You are welcome to have lidded drinks and water in no-spill containers at desks around the open library.
  • You can take water in no-spill containers into the Main Reading Room, the Aoi Pavilion, the Anderson Room the South Wing Study Hub.
  • No drinks may be taken into the Special Collections reading rooms (Manuscripts, Rare Books and Maps).
  • Food can be consumed only in the Tea Room and in the courtyards; please make sure that food and drinks are covered to prevent spillages if you are carrying them through the library to these areas. 


Find further information on our pages, Practical information for your visit


Please read our current guidance on Staying safe ahead of your trip. 


Making copies

You are welcome to use the photocopiers. Scanning is free. If you wish to photocopy you can use the self-service machines to top-up your credit, or you can add credit to your account remotely. You can also credit your account at the Reader Services Desk.

You may prefer to place a digital imaging request or use personal cameras.


Image by @AlicetheCamera for Cambridge University Libraries