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Rayleigh Library

counter and shelves

The Library

The Rayleigh Library houses one of the Nation's foremost physics collections and is situated on the first floor of the Bragg Building next to the Museum. It has study places for more than 70 readers, some of which are reserved for undergraduates. There is a common reading area next to the display of current periodicals.

Although the primary role of the Library is to support research and teaching in the Department, it also caters for a wide base of users. The growing importance of interdisciplinary research is recognised, and the Library therefore tries to take the varying needs of all its users into account.                                                                           




Main services and holdings                                                                        

Books: There is a collection of about 20,000 books in the field of physics and related subjects. The books are arranged in unique class order within two separate collections, the Main Library and Student Library. Whilst the Main Library is open for all users, the Student Library is provided for undergraduate students only.
  • There is also a non-borrowable reference collection. In addition the Rayleigh Library houses a significant historical collection of physics books dating from its foundation, which includes the original works of James Clerk Maxwell and books from his personal collection.
  • Journals and Series: The Library stocks about 40 current journals on the open shelves, and maintains a substantial collection of older journals in the accessible stack room. Series are catalogued as books and are located within their various subject classes.
  • Electronic journals: Access to Institute of Physics and American Institute of Physics journals, plus access to others via the University Library and other Web sites.
  • The Napier Shaw [Meteorology] Library consists of a further historical collection of works, plus some current journals.

Other services

We aim to assist all new and existing users and visitors to make to most of our services and facilities.

  • We produce a number of informative leaflets about the Library and the information resources available. A selected pack of leaflets is provided to all new users.
  • Information is provided about courses for users conducted by the University Library. The courses enable users to make the most of the information provided by the Newton catalogues and the electronic resources that are available.
  • Self-service borrowing system is available for borrowers to issue and return books.
  • Inter-library loans may be requested by members of the Department. 10 are allowed per year without charge.
  • Basic information searches can be conducted by staff.
  • Computer connections exist to the on-line catalogues, databases, and on-line journals.
  • Lapwing & Eduroam wireless access points are available for connection by laptops to the network.
  • A photocopier is available for black and white A4 and A3 pages at a cost of 5p per A4 sheet.
  • Access exists to a colour printer.
  • 6 study carrels can be used for more private reading.
  • A reading area is situated next to current periodicals and newspapers;
  • Copies of past exam papers can be found in the Student Library area.
  • Lecture notes and example papers for Parts II and III are also available.

People to contact

The Chief Library Assistant is Nevenka Huntic, and the Academic Librarian is Dr Richard Batley. We can be contacted in person in the Library, or by phone (01223 337414), or by e-mailing .

You can also contact us on  Twitter  and  Facebook

Access to the Library

The Library is open to staff and students in the Department of Physics and other members of the University of Cambridge who are entitled to borrow books.

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.

The official opening hours are from 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Thursday and 9.00 to 16.45 on Friday. Members of the Department are free to use the Library at any time.

The Library is situated on the 1st floor of the Bragg Building which has a visitors' car park located in front of it. A lift is available.