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Department of Physics

The Cavendish Laboratory

counter and shelves


LIBRARY IS OPEN 24 hours: 

Only to those who have acces to the Cavendish Laboratory.


This MICHAELMAS TERM 2021 the Library Assistant is only available in person from 10:00 - 14:00, Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

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 Richard Batley

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 a number of study spaces now available for you to use.


Book returns in person 

Available to all members of the Department and students that have access to Cavendish Laboratory. 

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. 

Book returns for recent graduates 

If you are a recent graduate, member of staff or Visiting Scholar who has now left the University and are unable to return to Cambridge, we can help with postal costs.

Recent University leavers returning books within the UK who are unable to return to Cambridge

Request a pre-paid returns label to return your books by freepost.

Return items from

  • the UL
  • Faculty and Department libraries
  • Colleges 

Recent University leavers returning books from outside the UK who are unable to return to Cambridge 

Request a refund for postage

Return items from

  • the UL
  • Faculty and Department libraries

All books posted via this route will arrive at the University Library, from where we will distribute them to their home library as soon as it is feasible to do so. Books you have returned may subsequently remain on your library account for some time after you have posted them.  

Drop box

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


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

CLICK AND COLLECT (Available for all visitors, only with validated University of Cambridge  Card)

How does the service work?

  • Start by searching iDiscover for the item you need, perhaps limiting by library, to ensure you’re focusing on books held in the Rayleigh Library. There’s help on using iDiscover here.
  • Once you’ve identified the book you want, you'll have to submit your item request by emailng to
  • Library staff will contact you by email to confirm when your books are ready to collect, or if there is any problem with your request.

How are you ensuring my safety and the safety of library staff?

  • We are minimising handling of books and all other materials.
  • A washing station is available, just inside the library lobby area, please sanitise your hands on arrival to collect your books. 
  • Please wear a face covering when you enter the library.
  • We request that you do not use anti-bacterial wipes on any library books as this may cause damage, but encourage you to wash your hands regularly since library books are a shared resource.


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 click on Library Registration Form 

 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 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 be purchased, please email to



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 takethe varying needs of all its users into account.   

Reading Lists Online (LEGANTO):  is a new way of working using a system called Leganto which can easily be integrated with Moodle courses, iDiscover and Library purchasing workflows. It allows items on lists to link easily to online resources, as well as linking to the iDiscover catalogue records for print items. It encourages well-structured lists with priorities clearly signposted, and many other features to assist students and academics, whilst ensuring an efficient provision of resources by libraries.                                               

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 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 iDiscover e-journals search

The Napier Shaw [Meteorology] Library: consists of a further historical collection of works, plus some current journals.


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 the on-line catalogues, 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.


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

Online Learning Hub | The Betty & Gordon Moore Library (


Request a Digital Copy is an semi-automated 24 hour Inter-Library Loans service which 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 undergraduate, or taught Master's, degrees at the University of Cambridge.

Both CamGuides for Master's and Camguides for Undergraduates 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.

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