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Accessing Resources

Cambridge libraries: accessibility & disability

A guide to library accessibility services for students

About borrowing books

You can borrow books from your college and faculty/department library and the main University Library (UL). You may also be able to register to borrow from other libraries in Cambridge. See the Cambridge Libraries Directory for further details.

In most libraries there is some material which cannot be borrowed for conservation and other reasons. Contact the Libraries Accessibility Service at if this presents a problem as we may be able to arrange alternative access.

Below are some services and adjustments which we can make for disabled students to make borrowing and returning books easier.

Click and Collect

The main UL offers a Click and Collect service to current staff and students of the University. 

  • Request up to 5 open shelf books at a time (books housed in North Front, North Wing, South Front, South Wing, the Anderson Room and Aoi Pavilion)
  • Collect from the UL Reader Services Desk (level access from the external lift) after 2 days not including weekends
  • Collect yourself or send someone else with your confirmation email

Other libraries offer Click and Collect services. Contact individual libraries for details. If a library does not offer a formal Click and Collect service you can still ask for help getting books from shelves if this is difficult.

Nominating someone to borrow on your behalf

At the UL you can nominate a proxy borrower to borrow books on your behalf. The proxy borrower does not need to be a member of the University. Contact Reader Services at to set this up.

Other libraries may offer a proxy borrowing service. Contact individual libraries for details.

Extended loans, increased loan limits

Students who register and give Full Disclosure with the Accessibility & Disability Resource Centre (ADRC) are given upgraded library status.

In the UL and many other libraries your upgraded status will automatically let you borrow more books than the standard allowance.

In college libraries which are not operating autorenewals (see below) you may also be able to borrow books for a longer period.

If you have not registered with the ADRC, or have given restricted disclosure, please speak to library staff about options. You can opt for upgraded library status or there may be some flexibility around loans, depending on circumstances.


The UL, faculty/department libraries and some college libraries operate autorenewals.  This means that your book loans in those libraries will automatically renew on the due date without you having to do anything, unless another library user has placed a request. Upgraded users are not charged fines if they don't return a recalled book, but please do your best to get these books back so that others can use them.

Non-borrowable modern printed material in the main UL

Parts of the University Library’s non-special collection material are not borrowable. If needed and wherever possible, we can issue items that are usually not borrowable to disabled students. For material from the Library Storage Facility (LSF) it may be more difficult. Please contact for advice on whether a non-borrowable item may be borrowed.

Returning books

In general, books should be returned to the library you borrowed them from. However, there is a 24/7 book return box on the Sidgwick site for books from faculty/department libraries on that site and the Medical and Moore libraries will accept returned books from any Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medical library.

The main University Library has a drop box for book returns with level access from the car park, before the steps to the main entrance. Books can also be returned by post to the main UL if you wish. Please check with other libraries.

Other ways we can help with borrowing

If you can’t get to a library due to a disability, significant illness or injury we might in some circumstances be able to transfer books to the closest library to you (usually your college) or pay postage costs to return books. Contact the Libraries Accessibility Service at to discuss this.

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