Over the course of six centuries theUniversity Library’s collections havegrown from a few dozen volumes on ahandful of subjects into an extraordinaryaccumulation of several million books,maps, manuscripts and journals,augmented by an ever-increasing rangeof electronic resources. They cover everyconceivable aspect of humanendeavour, across three thousand yearsand in over two thousand languages.From its beginnings as an asset for a tinycommunity of theologians and canonlawyers in the medieval university, theLibrary’s mission has expanded to servethe international scholarly communityand now, through its digitisationprojects, to reach new audiences acrossthe world. The Library keeps evolving. In recentyears we have been given themagniﬁcent Montaigne Library of Gilbert de Botton and purchased theimportant archive of the war poetSiegfried Sassoon, following a campaignto save the papers from possibledispersal. Even the greatest collections,though, count for little unless they canbe discovered and explored.So while we conserve this uniquecultural heritage for the future, we aresimultaneously ﬁnding new ways toshare it with the present generation bybuilding a digital library. Anyone with aninternet connection and a desire forknowledge can view letters written byMoses Maimonides, Newton’s autographpropositions on elliptic motion, orsketchbooks from Darwin’s voyage of the
. Through the digital library,communities of readers around theglobe can help create a richerunderstanding of the material held inour care.Great collections are brought to life bygreat people – students and scholars,and visitors to the Library past, presentand future. We hope this book bringsthe Library to you wherever you are, andwe welcome those of you who visit us inCambridge and those who join us in avirtual journey around the world mind.
Cambridge University Library
Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’sdesign for the East Elevationof the University Library