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Reader Services Desk in the Entrance Hall

This page is designed for new users at the University Library. If you would like to prepare for your visit, you will hopefully find some useful practical information on this page.



The main University Library is on West Road, Cambridge. The postcode is CB3 9DR. We are approximately a 12 minute walk from the town centre, and around a 40 minute walk from the train station. For further information on how to get to the University Library, including using our car park, visit our Contact page.

Anyone over the age of 16 is welcome to use the University Library. You can either register online in advance of your visit, or book an in-person appointment to register on the day.

  • If you register in advance, please bring along some photo ID to collect your card at the Reader Services Desk
  • If you have booked an appointment to register on the day, please bring along two forms of ID; photo ID and separate proof of home address.

If there is material you wish to consult which is held in closed access areas, you are able to request it in advance of your visit. Once registered you will receive a confirmation email of your library barcode. Use this to set a password for your account, and order books via iDiscover. If you would like to consult special collections we recommend contacting the relevant reading room in advance to check the availability of material.

Arriving at the University Library

When you arrive at the University Library you can collect your library card from the Reader Services Desk in the Entrance Hall (if you registered online). If you are registering in-person, please let the staff know, and they will telephone Reader Registration for someone to collect you. Some common questions we are asked by new users:

  • Using the lockers

Before you enter the library you will need to deposit any bags, rucksacks or tote bags in the locker room. The locker room is to the left of the Entrance Hall as you come in. Lockers are free to use; enter a four-digit code twice to lock and then once to unlock. We recommend making a note of your locker number! Please feel free to bring anything you need to study into the library, except non-transparent bags. This is for security purposes. Study material, laptops, pens, pencils, personal and other library books are all fine to bring in. We have some re-usable transparent bags in the locker room that are free to use in the Library to carry your belongings. We also sell transparent plastic bags at the Reader Services Desk for 20p. You can also bring your own transparent bag if you prefer.

  • Food and Drink in the library

You are welcome to have lidded drinks and bottled water at desks around the library. No food or drinks may be taken into staffed reading rooms. This includes the Main Reading Room and Special Collections reading rooms. Food can only be consumed in the Tea Room and 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. We’re really sorry that we aren’t able to provide catering in the Tea Room at the moment, but there are other options close by.

Using the University Library

If you are looking for a study space, the University Library has lots of places for you to explore. There are over 800 study spaces in the building.

  • Main Reading Room: The biggest reading room in the Library, a useful vantage point if you are ordering material to the Modern Collections Desk.
  • North Reading Room: You can take lidded drinks and bottled water into this smaller reading room just off the catalogue hall. It has 12 study spaces, 2 of which have desks with adjustable height. There are also 4 PCs.
  • South Reading Room: A cosy study space with sofas and low tables. The south reading room also has two acoustic booths.
  • South Wing Study Hub: The Group and Single Study Rooms are bookable spaces on the third floor, signposted from the nearby Beta staircase. There are two single study rooms.
  • Commonwealth Room: The Commonwealth Room is a light and airy reading room, with large study tables fitted with power points, enabling users to plug in their own devices. The room has good Eduroam/UniofCam WiFi coverage.  Access to iDiscover and electronic resources is available via the public PCs in the room. A self-service copier and scanner is available in the annex to the Commonwealth Room.
  • Open Stacks: There are 24 floors of open bookshelves across the University Library. Each floor has individual study spaces.
  • Special Collections: There are a number of special collections reading rooms in the Library. You can find the location of each room on this map.