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for Undergraduates

UG CamGuides: Welcome to Cambridge

Get to know the city for your academic and social life

Introduction to Cambridge Libraries

We asked our students about libraries


With thanks to:

Dhruv (Human, Social, and Political Sciences)

Anna (Human, Social, and Political Sciences)

Vamsi (Economics)

Cheryl (Music)

libraries in CambridgeCambridge University is full of libraries! They are spread across the city in colleges, departments, museums, research centres and there is the distinctively shaped University Library.

You may choose to borrow books, access online journal articles, or get support, encouragement and guidance from library staff. They will be keen to help you, so do take the opportunity to connect with them early on in your course. Libraries offer a wide range of services and it is likely that as a Cambridge University student you will use library services during your course.


Cambridge University Libraries are always open online.

With your Raven login and using iDiscover you can access more than 800,000 e-books, 120,000 e-journal titles and 400 databases. In addition, the Cambridge Digital Library has more than 500,000 images of more than 35,000 objects from our world-class collections freely available to everyone.

Lots more information about our services are available on the University Library website and if you have questions you can email

Libraries across Cambridge contribute to a series of online resources to help you find what you are looking for. Cambridge LibGuides are available for different libraries, different subject areas, types of resource (such as e-books, newspapers, or official publications such as parliamentary papers), and skills such as reference management. In addition, many college libraries have dedicated pages on college websites.

Different types of library in Cambridge - click on the arrows to move the slides

You will have unprecedented access to print and online resources to support your studies. During your course you will learn how to access them whether you are in your college room, a library, or studying away from the city. Other sections of this resource introduce you to finding items on your reading list but here we showcase libraries as physical buildings and sources of support.

Libraries are all different and there is no one way to use them. You will find varied study spaces, resources you need and staff to help. We try to make them diverse learning environments which will appeal to all users, taking into account individual needs and preferences. Many libraries play a pastoral role too and may find that your library offers tea and biscuits at exam time, arts and crafts activities as a way to unwind, and even jigsaws to give you a reason to take a well-deserved break from your studies.

There are over a hundred libraries in Cambridge. Most students will have access to at least three libraries at the start of their studies, one from each of the following types:

Emmanuel College Library

College Libraries

As a member of a college, you'll have access to its library. Their collections tend to focus on undergraduate reading so they'll have some of the core books for your course but you may need to to visit your faculty/departmental library as well. While college libraries may not have all of the resources you need, they often have extensive opening hours, lots of study space, and take great pride in their welcoming, inclusive atmospheres.

You can't usually use other college libraries. However, if you find a book that is only in another college library, speak to your librarian. They may be able to buy a copy for your library or arrange special access to consult it elsewhere.

Image: Emmanuel College Library

Betty and Gordon Moore Library

Faculty and Departmental Libraries

Often (but not always) located within departments, the faculty and departmental libraries tend to relate to a specific subject or set of subjects, and are mostly focused around providing resources and support tailored to what students and researchers in your discipline need. Unlike college libraries, which are just for members of that college, you can register at, and use, any faculty or departmental library, whether to borrow books or just study there. However, your access may be restricted outside staffed hours.

Image: Betty and Gordon Moore Library

Cambridge University Library

University Library (the UL)

An enormous, extraordinary research resource for all members of the university with reading rooms, study space, extensive special collections, assistive technologies, and more. With its distinctive tower and grand entrance hall, it can appear to be rather daunting so make the most of the opportunities to be shown round the building in the first weeks of term so that you feel comfortable using the UL throughout your studies.

Image: Cambridge University Library

Different types of library in Cambridge

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Zoom in on the map below to find your libraries and click the pin for more information about them.

The map in this window shows you all libraries. If you want to restrict it to see particular groups of libraries, click on the headings below. These link to the map in the Libraries Directory and will open in this window. Please click on the back arrow to return to CamGuides for Undergraduates.

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Finding libraries

A really useful thing that you can do before your course begins is to get to know the different libraries that you might use, and even make contact with the staff who work there. Start by visiting the Cambridge Libraries gateway.

Look up your college library, faculty and departmental library/ies and the University Library on the Libraries Directory.​ Using this and by connecting to their websites, find their opening hours, the names of one or two members of staff, some of the services they offer and images of them. Note that some start with a name, rather than subject e.g. Seeley Historical Library or the Haddon Library (Archaeology and Anthropology).

There is also a public library, Cambridge Central Library in the Lion Yard shopping centre.


Image credits

Sir Cam/University of Cambridge. All rights reserved.

Film credits

We asked our students: © Cambridge University Libraries. All rights reserved.  The Perfect Desk: © Cambridge University. All rights reserved;

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