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Rayleigh Library

counter and shelves

Information about available library services and Coronavirus (COVID-19)


Please refer to the information on the University Library website, which includes information on faculty and departmental libraries:


Please refer to the central University website

which contains advice and guidance for staff and students:


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.                                                                           




Access to the Library

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

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.

The official opening hours are from 9.00 to 17.00 Monday to Thursday and 9.00 to 16.50 on Friday. Members of the Department are free to use the Library at any time.

Our location on the University of Cambridge Map

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.
  • 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 cataloged 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.

  • 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 catalogs 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 the on-line catalogs, databases, and on-line 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.

People to contact

The Chief Library Assistant is Nevenka Huntic, the Library Assistant is  Ana Maria Aricescu, 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


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 your status and expiry date. To download and complete the form to bring to the library click on Library Registration Form.