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Cambridge University Library

Student in main reading room

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

Please make sure you have registered or renewed your library card before coming to the Library. There is no in-person, on the day, registration.

Main Reading Room

  • 09:30-13:30 and 14:00-18:55 Monday-Friday.  
  • 09:00-16:45 on Saturdays. 

Commonwealth Room 

  • 09.00-18:45 Monday-Friday
  • 09:00-16:30 Saturday


You are welcome to read, study, write and use the electronic legal deposit terminals. It is possible to bring your own material with you, and to browse the open shelves to find material for study or to borrow during your visit.

If you need to consult non-borrowable material in the UL collections, you will need to book an appointment ahead of time. This material must be ordered in advance and cannot be ordered on the day of your visit.

'Non-borrowable material' includes

  • Special Collections
  • modern material annotated on the iDiscover catalogue with the instruction 'order in Reading Room' or 'order in West Room'


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. The number of seats available is limited to safeguard users and library staff.


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:   

  • The NHS Track and Trace check in QR code is available at the Reader Services Desk in the entrance hall to scan in.
  • You are encouraged to wear a face covering in all areas of the Library unless you have a medical exemption.
  • You will see safety measures including social distancing reminders, hand sanitizer points and hand-washing facilities throughout the building. 
  • If you require assistance with any aspect of your visit, let us know and we will be pleased to help you.  


What services will be available?  

You will be able to: 

  • submit enquiries to staff via email. You can send an enquiry to 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 your membership permits borrowing).
  • browse the reference collection on the Main Reading Room shelves.
  • use photocopiers or printers. Scanning is free, if you wish to photocopy please make sure your account is credited before you arrive (top up your account here). It is not possible to credit your account at the Reader Services Desk. You may prefer to place a digital imaging request or use personal cameras.
  • use NPLD computers.  
  • use the toilets. Washroom facilities are open with enhanced cleaning procedures. 
  • use the cloakroom to store bags and coats. We ask that you bring only the essentials needed for study into the Library.
  • bring water in a bottle to drink into the study spaces. 
  • 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 during term time from Cambridge foodPark at the UL. 

You will not be able to:  

  • eat while studying. 
  • consult non-borrowable items without making a separate booking.
  • use public computers. 


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