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Physical & Digital Collections

Rare Books at Cambridge University Library: Reader guidelines


Many of our books are unique, and all of them are precious. Please help us to protect and preserve them by following these guidelines:

  • Please use only pencils and computers for taking notes. You can plug your laptop into the sockets under the wooden flaps at the centre of the tables. Pens, highlighters and sticky notes are not permitted.
  • The majority (85%) of rare books can be ordered online, using the 'request' function when one is logged into iDiscover. Paper slips for ordering books may be found in the Reading Room. If you need assistance, please ask a member of staff to help complete the slip. 
  • Please support your books while reading them. Bookstands are on all tables, cushions can be found under the windows, and book weights are available at the desk. Please return your books to the Reading Room staff when you leave; they can be reserved if you would like to consult them again.
  • No food or drink may be brought into the Room, including bottled water; you are welcome to use the courtyards and the Tea Room for refreshment breaks.
  • For the security of our collections, we need to ensure that no Rare Books are removed from the Reading Room. Please have your books, papers and/or laptop ready for checking by staff at the exit gate when you leave. If you wish to reserve any books for use on another day please let staff know when you return them.
  • Photography of books fetched to the Room is allowed, subject to the condition of the book. If you would like to photograph an item, please show it to a member of staff first and complete a registration form.

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