skip to content

Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory



LIBRARY IS OPEN 9:00 - 17:00   to all members of the  University of Cambridge and Visitors.

Only members of the Department of Physics, have 24 hours access to the library. 

VISITORS:  All visitors to the Rayleigh Library should report to the main reception desk. The Reception staff will sign you in and give you directions to the library. You must sign out when you depart.       



At the moment the Library  is staffed:

Monday 9:30 - 16:00

Tuesday 9:30 - 16:00

Wednesday 9:30 - 14.00

Thursday 9:30 - 16:00

Friday 9.30 - 16.00

At other times please make your enquiries via email to



Cavendish Laboratory (Bragg building), Department of Physics,

19 JJ Thomson Avenue, Cambridge CB3 0HE.

Our location on the University of Cambridge Map



Academic Librarian: Dr Gemma Bale

Chief Library Assistant: Nevenka Huntic BA(Hons) MSc

Library Assistant:  Ana Maria Aricescu B.Sc.

e-mail: .

You can also contact us on  Twitter  and  Facebook




We have 77 study spaces available for you to use plus a relaxed sitting area for reading journals, and books, but can also be for studying.


Book returns in person 

Available to all members of the University and Visitors

Book returns by post 

University Library books can be returned by post to: Rayleigh Library, Cavendish Laboratory, JJ Thomson, Cambridge CB3 0HE

We recommend using a tracked service. 

Drop box

The Medical Library and Moore Library each have a dropbox for returning books from any Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Medical Libraries.


Scan & Deliver service, to enable our users to order scans of Rayleigh Library materials to be sent directly to their mail inbox, please email us at 



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 cards, such as your status and expiry date. To download click on Library Registration Form PDF iconlibrary_registration_form_2021.pdf

 and complete the form to bring to the library or send it via email to 

UNDERGRADUATES may borrow up to a maximum of:

  • 4 books at a time with an initial loan period of 7 days, from the Student Library (SL) or from the main Collection, after which all loans will automatically renew until returned to the library
  • Borrowed books may be requested by another library user during term time only

UNIVERSITY STAFF, UNIVERSITY PhD and MASTERS students may borrow up to a maximum of:

  • 10 books at a time with an initial loan period of 28 days after which all loans will automatically renew until returned to the library
  • Borrowed books may be requested by another library user during term time only

VISITING FELLOWS and SCHOLARS may borrow up to a maximum of:

  • 5 books at a time with an initial loan period of 28 days after which all loans will automatically renew until returned to the library
  • Borrowed books may be requested by another library user during term time only


To request that a book  or other resource be purchased, please email


  new books                                                                                                          

 Reading Lists Online ( LEGANTO)

Please see the Reading Lists Online: Information for Students LibGuide for guidance on how to use Reading List Online to find and access items on your reading lists (including short video demonstrations).

Please see our 3 Pro Tips to level up your Reading Lists Online!

Below are links to online reading lists we have compiled for NST Physics, broadly following your Course Synopses. Each one includes a record of the borrowable items held in the Rayleigh Library and other Cambridge University Libraries and those accessible as eBook titles.

PHYSICS: Part IA 2022-2023 

PHYSICS: Part IB (A and B) 2022-2023

PHYSICS: Part II 2022-2023

PHYSICS: Part III 2022-2023



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 to 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.   

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.

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.

eBooks: Access to the full text of some online physics books can be obtained via the iDiscover or they can be searched via the University Library's ebooks@cambridge: Find ebooks. Click on the recommended link to view the full contents of the book.

Journals and Series: The Library stocks about 16 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 iDiscover e-journals search


The NAPIER SHAW (METEOROLOGY) LIBRARY: consists of a further historical collection of works, 511 books, and 16 journals. Also, there is a huge, annually, monthly and daily collection of national and international Meteorological Office Weather Reports and Papers, and a great collection of weather maps and charts.



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

  • 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 iDiscover catalogues and the electronic resources that are available.
  • Self-check 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 online catalogues, databases, and online journals.
  • Wireless access points are available for connection.
  • 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.


Access a range of resources and learning materials to help you master your research.

Online Learning Hub | The Betty & Gordon Moore Library (

Study Skills Hub for info on note-taking, referencing, revising, time management, and more:


Request a Digital Copy is a semi-automated 24-hour Inter-Library Loans service that automatically matches your request to a holding Library. The holding library either scans or downloads the material, this is then hosted electronically, and you are sent a download URL for the file. 

All information can be found here:

Cambridge LibGuides to library and information resources

Cambridge LibGuides are online web pages created by librarians to help you perform various tasks, such as using library resources or researching topics.

Here's an A-Z list of the guides for your subject that are available through the Cambridge LibGuides service.

CamGuides: information and digital essentials

CamGuides is a set of resources for students beginning PhD, Undergraduate or Master's, degrees at the University of Cambridge.

 CamGuides for Master'sCamguides for Undergraduates and PhD students are designed to help students prepare for their studies in Cambridge, regardless of their subject or college. They focus on some of the academic and information practices and skills that students commonly engage in, or require, for their degrees.