skip to content

Cambridge University Library


University Library usage 

We want you to have a good experience when you visit the University Library, the following advice is intended to aide this. The Cambridge University Libraries Code of Conduct more fully outlines what you can expect from Cambridge University Libraries and what Cambridge University Libraries ask from you in return.  

Visiting the University Library 

The Library welcomes visitors to join us at a variety of exhibitions, events, lectures. For details of these, please see You can also usually sign in to use the Library Tea Room – ask at the Reader Services Desk in the entrance hall. 

As a University or Library member, you can sign in up to four visitors at a time. This allows you to look around the building and go to the Tea Room with your guest – if your visitor wishes to study or use any of our resources, they are encouraged to sign up for their own card.  

Joining the University Library 

University members, including alumni, are also members of the University Library and will be able to use our resources. Many University members will be able to borrow, please see here to discover your borrowing rights:   

If you are not a member of the University, you are warmly invited to become a Library member. There are a few different ways to join. 

If you are aged 16 and over and are carrying out private study or research, you can apply here to use the Library: You can request a free card for a seven-consecutive day period every 12 months. If you’d like a card for longer, you can have a card for £5 for 1 month, £15 for 6 months, £30 for 1 year, or £90 for 3 years.  

There is no charge for current members of academic staff or registered research students of any other university funded by one of the higher education funding councils in the United Kingdom. Undergraduates of other UK universities can also get a free card to use the Library – apply here first: 


Full guidelines on borrowing are available here:  

Please note that requests are suspended over the Easter and Christmas vacations. Requests are not suspended over the summer vacation at the UL; if an item is requested over the summer vacation, it must be returned within three days. Vacation dates can be found here: 

If you have Camb.MA or Visitor Borrowing status, your late return of overdue items and overdue recalled items are fined £1 per day. If a fine amounts to £20 or over, it is important to pay the fine or speak to staff, as entry to the Library will be restricted. 

Use of Library materials 

The University Library is a Legal Deposit Library – this means that we keep a copy of everything published in the UK in perpetuity. So that researchers of the future can use our collections, we ask you to not mark or damage our items in any way. Please do not write notes in pen or pencil or use highlighters on Library books. Books can also be damaged if you fold pages, use sticky post-it notes or paperclips – please do not use any of these on our items.  

You may be asked to use pencils in some areas of the Library – check with staff if you are unsure.  

All members of the Library may make use of licensed electronic resources such as ejournals, ebooks and databases while on library premises. They may only be used for non-commercial purposes (I.e. for private research, study, and teaching). 

Use of personal data of living persons in Library collections is either for i) research purposes, in which case readers must not use personal data to support decisions about the person who is the subject of the data, or in a way that causes substantial damage or distress to them or ii) for the purposes of academic expression, in which case it must be in the public interest. 

The terms of licences for ejournals, ebooks, and online databases (eresources) permit offsite access to current staff and students of the University.  

Retired academic or research staff who remain research active with a faculty or departmental association, and who qualify for Raven IDs and passwords, may be granted remote access to licensed resources with the support of the relevant faculty or department Your faculty or department should confirm your continuing research status by emailing to request access. 

Library Practices 

So that other users are not disturbed, laptops and mobile devices should be set to silent. You may use headphones, but please ensure that any sound is not audible to others. 

You may take photos inside the Library. However, you must ensure that photos exclude people (staff and readers) and computer screens displaying Electronic Legal Deposit material. Personal book scanners are not allowed. 

Bags larger than 25cm x 20cm x 5cm should be put in the Locker Room adjacent to the entrance hall during each visit to the Library. Coats, and bags of any size (including see-through bags) are not allowed into the Rare Books or Manuscript Reading Rooms.  

To protect you and the collections, anything brought in or out of the building may be checked by Security. Laptops, mobile devices, bags, files, folders, coats and any other items allowed into the Library will be checked as you exit. 

Hot and cold drinks in covered containers and water in bottles with a sealable top may be brought into some areas of the Library. You can take these to the open floors, the North and South Reading Rooms, corridors and courtyards. No drink of any sort is allowed in the Main Reading Room, the Milstein Exhibition Centre, in the Special Collections reading rooms: the Anderson (Music), Aoi (East Asian), Manuscripts, Maps and Rare Books roomsFood can be eaten in the Tea Room and the courtyards only. 

Smoking and vaping are not permitted anywhere in the Library, including near the entrances and in the courtyards. A smoking area is available on the lawn at the front of the Library. 

Revised: August 2023