For six hundred years, the University Library has been central to the support of teaching and research at Cambridge. More than eight million books and periodicals, one million maps and many thousands of manuscripts occupy over one hundred miles of shelving, which extends by a further two miles every year. The Library collections vary hugely in age and content, from Chinese oracle bones from the second millennium BC to the latest online scientific journals.
As a legal deposit library since 1710, the Library is entitled to receive a copy of every book and journal published in the UK and Ireland, resulting in a rich and diverse collection which will provide future scholars with the raw materials for research in many fields. In addition it has an extensive purchasing program for overseas publications, and acquires outstanding book and manuscript collections through purchase, gift and bequest. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, as well as continuing to grow its physical collections, the Library has focused on its digital collections through the Legal Deposit Libraries Act which extended legal deposit to include electronic materials in 2003, and the launch of the Cambridge Digital Library in 2010.
The Library is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the University and also the tens of thousands who use it from all over the world. With two million of its volumes on open shelves, readers have the largest open-access collection in Europe immediately available to them. For more information, see the Library’s website.
Cambridge University Library has graciously contributed materials from their collections to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International license. For any further use, visitors should contact Cambridge University Library's Digital Content Unit.