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Reference Library

The Reference Library is currently running with reduced staff and there may be a delay in responding to enquiries. We thank you for your patience.

The Reference Library holds materials relating to the collections of the Museum (fine arts, applied arts, antiquities, and rare books and manuscripts) and which support the Museum in its mission to contribute to society through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the highest international levels of excellence.

The Library is open to everyone by appointment (find us at the Courtyard Entrance to the Museum). If you would like to visit, please contact us in advance using the enquiries form so we can discuss your requirements.

Submit a Reference Library Enquiry (this will take you to the ticketing site)

Opening Hours

The Library is open Tuesdays to Fridays, 10:00-16:30 (closed for the lunchtime period 13:00-14:00). Opening hours are subject to staff availability.

The Library is closed on Good Friday, all Bank Holiday Mondays, and between Christmas and New Year.

Call: 01223 764398



Browse our newest books here.

Most books and exhibition catalogues can be found on iDiscover, which searches all Cambridge University Library Collections. More is being added all the time, so if you can’t find an item on the catalogue, it is still worth asking in case we have it waiting to be catalogued. As the library is a reference library, borrowing is not permitted except by members of Museum and Hamilton Kerr Institute staff.

We have a number of textbooks relating to the fine arts, decorative arts, rare books and manuscripts, and antiquities. The Library also extends its collection policy to museum studies and conservation.

We try to hold a copy of every catalogue produced by the Fitzwilliam Museum. We also hold many exhibition and collection catalogues from the world’s leading museums and art galleries.

We hold a significant number of catalogues from Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillip’s sales, including some which are annotated by notable museum donors. We also have major runs of catalogues from smaller dealers, and many catalogues not held by any other institution.

For catalogues relating to numismatics, the late Professor T.V. Buttrey maintained a list which is available to view here: Numismatics Catalogues

The Library holds nearly 200 current periodicals, and many more now ceased. These include major art and antiquities journals, and reports and journals from museums and galleries worldwide.

Guide to Classmarks and Finding Materials

We use Library of Congress Classification for the majority of the collection.

For exhibition catalogues, the classmark is City.Year (or for London institutions, Institution.Year), so Paris.1989 or New York 2022.

Sales and dealers’ catalogues are in alphabetical order by the dealer’s name. The majority of sales catalogues, particularly Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillip’s catalogues, are still being retrospectively added to the online catalogue, so please contact the Library even if you don’t see the catalogue you’re looking for, as it may be available.

A classmark of “Reserved” means that the item is held in the Founders’ Library. For information on how to access this material, contact the Study Room.

A classmark with "HKI" and/or location "Hamilton Kerr Institute" means the book is held in the Hamilton Kerr Institute Library. Most of the collection can be fetched for your visit given sufficent notice. Some types of material can only be consulted at the HKI, including student theses and congress pre-prints.

When requesting materials for your appointment, please state clearly the title, author, and classmark, and in the case of dealers’ catalogues, the date of the sale.

Photocopying and Photography

We have a colour photocopier and a scanner in the library. Readers are also welcome to register to take photographs of the materials on smartphones or tablets, subject to copyright law. Readers are not permitted to take photos of the library environment or staff.

WiFi Access

Cambridge University staff and students have access to WiFi in the library through Uni of Cam. Visitors from other academic institutions are able to access WiFi through Eduroam (this needs to be set up in advance at your home institution). Guest passes can be requested by external visitors.

Library Regulations

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