Cambridge University Library is one of the oldest institutions in the University of Cambridge, and for more than 600 years it has been central to the support of teaching and research at Cambridge, and a major resource for scholars around the world. It is one of the world's most important research libraries.
On just over 100 miles of shelving, it houses around 7,000,000 printed volumes, 150,000 manuscript items, about a million maps and 400,000 musical items, as well as providing access to tens of thousands of electronic journals and databases, embodying a continuity of scholarship from Chinese oracle bones of the second millennium BC to online scientific journals of the third millennium AD.
Since 1710 the Library has been a legal deposit library, entitled to claim a copy of every book and periodical published in Great Britain and Ireland. Of all the libraries in Europe, the University Library has the largest collection of material on open access, with two million volumes on open shelves and immediately accessible to users.
The Library's special collections include thousands of medieval manuscripts such as the 5th-century Gospel text known as Codex Bezae and the 140,000 Hebrew fragments in the Genizah Collection; 4,500 incunabula including the Gutenberg Bible and a hand-coloured copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle; papers of scientists such as Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Lord Kelvin and Lord Rutherford; papers of literary and political figures including Lord Acton, Lord Randolph Churchill, Sir Robert Walpole, Stanley Baldwin, Arthur Schnitzler and Stefan Heym; business archives of Jardine Matheson & Company and Vickers plc; the collections of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, the Royal Commonwealth Society, and the British and Foreign Bible Society.
The Library's policy is to provide the widest possible access to its collections, both by making its catalogues available online and by digitising a growing range of materials. All of these are available freely to the world via the Internet. The Library's Imaging Services Department is responsible for managing the digitisation of the Corpus Christi College manuscripts for the Parker on the Web project.