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Physical & Digital Collections

Rare Books at Cambridge University Library: Home


The Rare Book collections of Cambridge University Library cover all subjects and include material from the first European printing presses in the fifteenth century to the present day, and publications from all parts of the world. The Department is responsible for most of the older printed material in the Library, as well as some more recent publications which require special care. Information on particular rare book collections can be found in the Collections Directory.

The collections are read in the Munby Rare Books Room, on the north west corner of the first floor (except for on weekday evenings after 5.00pm and all day on Saturdays when our service operates from the Manuscripts Room on the third floor). Readers intending to use the Library for the first time should contact Reader Registration. In addition to our own classes, several other collections within the Library are consulted in the Munby Rare Books Room, including (1) Near and Middle Eastern and South Asian, Tibetan and Southeast Asian collections printed before 1900, (2) pre-1900 Bible Society books (ordered in the Rare Books Room), (3) printed material from the Royal Commonwealth Society library and (4) Official Publications material.

Making the most of your visit

If you are planning to visit us, and particularly if you have limited time, we recommend contacting us in advance to ensure the items you wish to see are available (email, including—if you already have a reader's card—your five-character reader's code, e.g. VA123). You are welcome to bring a camera to photograph the items you are working on, subject to condition and copyright. Full guidelines for using the Rare Books Reading Room are available.

Opening times and contact

Monday-Friday 9.00-18.50 (after 17.00 in Manuscripts Room)
Saturday 9.00-16.30 (in Manuscripts Room all day)

Rare Books Department
Cambridge University Library
West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DR
01223 333117 (Reading Room)
01223 333122 (Curatorial Staff)

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