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The books have been split into two sections - the "Main Library" and an "Undergraduate" or "Part II" Library. They lie at opposite ends of the Library within the same area. The Undergraduate collection has duplicates of the Main Library books and these should not be borrowed by anyone other than Physics 3rd and 4th year students. The Main Library is for use by all borrowers including undergraduates. The books have been given a unique Rayleigh Library classification arranged in key research fields with specific alpha numeric identifiers attached to each book. Books held by the Rayleigh Library can be searched for on the O-Z Departmental public catalogue, "Newton". The Library Search includes details of all the held by the various libraries of the University and provides details of their locations and holdings. Alongs with details about each item, are changeable fields that specify whether a book is "charged" (on loan), "not on loan", or "renewed".

If the Newton catalogue is not available, the Rayleigh Library has printed lists of its book holdings in either author or classmark order.

Borrowing Books from the Main Collection

If not already registered with the Rayleigh Library, all users should complete a registration form before borrowing books. You may also have to re-register if any of the details alter on your university card, such as expiry date. To download and complete the form to bring to the library click on Library Registration Form.

Staff and PhD students in the Cavendish can borrow up to 10 books. The maximum borrowing period is 4 weeks, subject to recall after 7 days if required by another reader. A University card or a University Library reader's card is needed for use of our automated system. Detailed instructions for using the system will be found in the Library.

Undergraduates can borrow books from the Main collection for 4 weeks in addition to the Student Library collection but these books must be included in their quota of 3 borrowable items per time.

Visitors to the Cavendish Laboratory may also borrow books.

Borrowing Books from the Undergraduate Collection

This collection is intended for reference use by undergraduates. During term undergraduates in their 3rd and 4th years can borrow up to 3 books overnight, using the same issue system described for the Main Collection. Undergraduates may also be allowed to borrow up to 3 books during the vacations.

Returning Books

Please return books by placing them in the Returned box oppsoite the library counter. Books can NOT be returned using the automated system. DO NOTreplace borrowed books on the shelves.

Renewing books

Books can be renewed by using the automated system, or on any Cambridge domain computer with a Web link. With the latter, renewals are carried out via a personal account on the O-Z Departmental public catalogue, "Newton", for which you will need your 5 digit University card number. On the O-Z database, select "Rayleigh Library" from the drop-down menu next to "Library card". The personal account details should show all books borrowed from most of the Libraries within the University. Boxes alongside the book details can be checked for renewal. Most books can only be renewed for a maximum of 3 times, and you may have a problem renewing if you have reached your book limit. If there is a system block to prevent renewals, the reason will be displayed on the screen. The Library staff will be able to assist you if there is a problem.


Access to the full text of some online physics books can be obtained via the Newton Catalogue or they can be searched via the University Library'seResources@cambridge eBooks site. Click on the recommended link to view the full contents of the book.

Physics eBooks List

Book and journal purchase recommendations

We are happy to accept book and journal recommendations. Please complete a book and journal recommendation form which can be found opposite the Library reception desk and supply as many details as possible including the reason for the suggestion. Alternatively click on the following link to download the Book Recommendation Form. You can also e-mail the Library staff with details. All book recommendations for purchase will be considered by the Academic Librarian at the beginning of the month. Journal purchase recommendations will be passed to the Journal Co-ordination Scheme Committee for consideration.

Inter-library loans

If the book or journal article or other item that you want to look at or consult is not available in the Rayleigh Library or any other University of Cambridge Library, you may request an inter-library loan if you are a member of the Department. Up to 10 loans are allowed per year without charge. Forms are available on the desk opposite the Library reception desk and must be signed for copyright purposes when requesting photocopies of articles or book chapters.

Alternatively click on the following link to download the Inter-library Loan Request Form.