Photograph of the Plant Sciences Library

10 Libraries in Cambridge

This is a summary of our Spring 2017 Information Skills Programme: Session 7

There are a vast number of libraries in Cambridge – over 100 in fact! Here is some information about the 10 libraries most likely to be useful to the Cambridge Conservation Initiative Community.

What’s where?

To find out what is in different libraries you need to search their catalogue. If you want ‘general’ CPD books (e.g. leadership, project management, computer programs) or language learning books try the public library –; if you’re after resources on marine, terrestrial or freshwater biology in the polar regions the British Antarctic Survey is worth trying –; and whatever you’re searching for try iDiscover, the catalogue of all the university’s library resources –

Getting there

Walking times, and where appropriate cycling and bus times, to reach the libraries from the David Attenborough Building are given. 5 of the libraries are within a 5 minute walk of the DAB and all that are more than a 10 minute walk are accessible via the Universal bus – £1 each way with your university card (DAB building access card).

The Libraries

University libraries

1. The University Library (a.k.a. The UL)


As a legal deposit library, Cambridge University Library is one of the six libraries entitled under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act of 2003 to receive a free copy of material published in the United Kingdom and Ireland. In addition, the library purchases relevant material published overseas. There are comprehensive collections of books and journals, along with maps, music, photographs and sound recordings. Around 8 million printed items are held. The library provides access to over 100,000 ejournals, more than 400 full-text and citation databases, and to ebook collections from over 40 different publishers and suppliers.

Getting there: 🚶 14 minutes – 🚲 5 minutes – 🚌 11 minutes

Access: You need to register to access the UL. Everyone working for a CCI Partner is eligible to register for access and borrowing rights. If you are not a member of the university you must contact the Leventis Library manager to obtain a form confirming you are a member of CCI. Please note the registration office opening hours are shorter than full opening hours.

Catalogue: iDiscover

More information

2. The Moore Library

Photograph of the Moore LibraryThe Moore Library holds the working library collections of Cambridge University in mathematics, physics, astronomy, computer science, materials science and engineering, as well as the former Central Science Library’s collections in biological, chemical, earth and environmental sciences. The stock includes relevant book and journal material received via Legal Deposit. The Moore Library also hosts a wide variety of events, on topics ranging from data management to social media.

Getting there: 🚶 21 minutes – 🚲 7 minutes – 🚌 14 minutes

Access: Access and borrowing rights available to all CCI partner staff, but registration is required. If you do not have a university card contact the Leventis Library Manager to obtain proof of your CCI affiliation before visiting the Moore Library.

Catalogue: iDiscover

More information

3. The Zoology (Balfour & Newton) Library

Photograph of the Zoology Department LibraryThe Zoology Department is right next door to the David Attenborough Building – in fact part of the department is in the David Attenborough Building. The department’s library is called the Balfour & Newton Library, and holds both a working departmental collection and a rare book collection.

Getting there: 🚶 1 minute (next door!)

Access: You can register as a reader with either a university card or a university library card. Report to the Zoology Department reception on your first visit and ask for directions to the library. Visitors must make an appointment to visit the library, usually at least 48 hours in advance.

Catalogue: iDiscover

More information

4. The SPS Library

Photograph of the SPS libraryThe SPS Library holds material relating to sociology and land economy. It is an Affiliated Library, so there is also a computer providing access to the UL’s electronic legal deposit resources. The SPS Library is situated in the Old Cavendish Laboratory on the New Museums Site – the same site as the David Attenborough Building. To get there, exit the DAB where the bike racks are and turn left. Pass through the gap between the DAB and the Cockroft Building, then turn right and head towards a big tree. At the tree take the passage to your right and follow it round until you reach an archway exiting the site onto Free School Lane. There are signs to the SPS Library from there.

Getting there: 🚶 1 minute

Catalogue: iDiscover

More information

5. The Plant Sciences Library

Photograph of the Plant Sciences LibraryThe Plant Sciences department is on the Downing site, across the road (Pembroke Street) from the DAB. The Library has around 16,000 plant-related books and many journals as paper copies. The library is usually staffed in the mornings on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. You can also visit when it is not staffed 0830-1700 Monday-Friday, but it not always easy to find things so you are strongly advised to contact the library before your visit!

Getting there: 🚶 3 minutes

Access: Open to all, but you will need to register if you are not a member of the university (see website for form). All registered readers can borrow books.

Catalogue: iDiscover

More information

6. The Geography Library

5The Geography department is on the far side of the Downing site. The library’s collections include 23,500 monographs, 2,000 offprints and 300 series (working papers from other university geography departments).

Getting there: 🚶 4 minutes

Access: The library is open to all CCI Partner staff and new readers must register. Borrowing is only available to staff employed by or registered as students of Cambridge University.

Catalogue: iDiscover

More information

7. The Judge Business School Information Centre

Photograph of the Judge Business SchoolThe Information Centre is on the ground floor of the Judge Business School on Trumpington Road.  Provides information and library services in the field of business and management studies, focusing on electronic resources, but also including a print collection.

Getting there: 🚶 6 minutes

Access: Current university members can register to use the Information Centre and borrow books online. Other members of CCI should contact the Information Centre prior to visiting.

Catalogue: iDiscover

8. The African Studies Library

alison_richard_building2c_cambridge_universityThe primary function of the African Studies Library is to support the research and teaching needs of the African Studies MPhil, as well as supporting the rest of the University in the study of Africa, in particular Africa South of the Sahara and supporting the Centre of African Studies’ work in promoting research on Africa. The core collecting areas are history, economics, politics, social sciences, geography and anthropology, religion, archaeology, literature, film, and popular culture. Most of its purchases are material published in Africa, the US or Europe, and as such often not available elsewhere in the University. The Library also holds a large number of unpublished reports donated by researchers.

Getting there: 🚶 14 minutes – 🚲 5 minutes – 🚌 8 minutes

Access: Anyone interested in the collections is very welcome to use the library for reference. Registration is not required but contact the library in advance of your visit. Members of the university have borrowing rights.

Catalogue: iDiscover

More information

Other libraries

9. Cambridge Central Library (Public Library)

26495404453_9404f21f0d_bCambridge’s central public library is just across the road from the David Attenborough Building in the Grand Arcade. Cross the road, enter the shopping centre via the passage next to Carluccio’s and take the stairs, lift or escalator to the first floor. There are three public floors in the library. On the first floor are the childrens’ and fiction sections; the second floor is home to adult non-fiction and newspapers / magazines; on the third floor you will find the cafe as well as further work spaces with views across Cambridge. Registering with the library also gives you access to the libraries ebooks and emagazines.

Getting there: 🚶 2 minutes

Access: It is free to register and borrow books from the library. You will need proof of ID and address to register at the library, but you don’t need to live in Cambridgeshire to register.

Catalogue: Cambridgeshire Libraries Catalogue

More information

10. British Antarctic Survey

library-300x300The BAS Library holds a collection of around 9,000 books and pamphlets, 18,000 offprints and 200 print periodical titles, as well as a wide collection of electronic journals.

The scientific collection covers geology, geophysics, glaciology, climatology, meteorology, upper atmosphere physics, and marine, terrestrial and freshwater biology, all with the accent on the polar regions. In addition, there is a broad collection of material on the history of the polar regions, including historic expedition reports and personal memoirs.

Getting there: 🚶 42 minutes – 🚲 13 minutes – 🚌 23 minutes

Access: Open to all researchers and students subject to prior arrangement.

Catalogue: NERC Library Catalogue

More Information



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