desk and book shelves in the Wolfson College Library

Making the library accessible to all

Wolfson College Library is committed to enabling access to our services, facilities and collections for all students, fellows and staff.

desk and book shelves in the Wolfson College Library

View the Library's access guide on the AccessAble website

We are keen to ensure that the physical library, our online resources and the support we offer meet your individual requirements. Please feel free to come and talk to us at any time whether you are registered with the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) or not. If you have a Student Support Document and have indicated that you require additional support to use the library, then this is passed on to us. If you would like to discuss anything on your SSD, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

We arrange induction tours for all students in October to introduce the service that we offer. We are also very happy to meet you one-to-one to offer a personalised induction. We can show you round the library, how to find and borrow books. If you would like to, you can also discuss anything that would make it easier to use the Library.

Below, we cover some of the main topics we receive questions about. In all cases mentioned, please get in touch with Laura Jeffrey, the Librarian to discuss how we can best support your studies or research. If your question is not answered here, please do ask in person or by email. Find out more about how Cambridge Libraries can support you on the Accessibility and Disability LibGuide.


The library is open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, apart from a short period of closure around Christmas and again at New Year. There will usually be a member of staff in the Library between 9:00 and 17:00, Monday to Friday. However, it is also possible to arrange to meet us outside these hours.

There is step-free access into the library through two hinged doors and a lift links all three floors of the building. Your University card will need to be activated if you wish to use the lift; we can arrange this for you. The study room and computer room on the ground floor require a University Card for entry, again through hinged doors. The reading room, where you will find our print collections, is on the first floor. There is an accessible toilet, a water fountain, fridge and lockers in the basement. There are no automatic doors in the library and the hinged doors are quite heavy. Please ask if you require assistance moving around the library.

Using the collections

Books are arranged by subject area on shelving, some of which is over 2 metres high. Kick-stools are provided to help you reach books on the top shelves. The gaps between the shelves can be quite narrow. Therefore please let us know if you are unable to access any resources, either when in the library or in advance of your visit and we can fetch them for you. You can email us or use the Request and Collect online form. They will be made available for you to collect on the next working day in the Library foyer. If you are unable to come into the Library, these can be collected for you by someone else.


Most members of Wolfson with a Lee Library account may borrow a maximum of 20 books at a time. Students who have identified that they need additional library support in their Student Support Document may borrow up to 30 books at a time. Library staff can always check out more books to your account should you need them, but you will not be able to do this on the self-issue machine. Undergraduates have a 7-day loan period and postgraduates, staff and fellows will have a 28-day loan period. However, autorenewals for students means that your book will be automatically renewed on the system three days before the due date without you having to renew the items yourself manually.

Borrowing is via the self-issue machine. If you are unable to use this, we have some self-issue slips which you can complete by hand and leave under the Librarian's door. We will add the books to your record. Please note that self-issued books will set the alarms off if leaving the reading room via the stairs.

In term, there is a 3-day recall period. If you need a book which is on loan to someone else, please recall it. This is the only way to ensure that books come back to the library during the academic year. The book will be kept for you outside in the Librarian's office. If someone recalls an item borrowed under your name, you will have a 3-day period to return the item to the library. Please get in touch with us if you are unable to return the book within 3 days. More information on recalls is available on our Borrowing page.

We can also issue up to 5 books at a time to you. Please request them using the Request and Collect online form. They will be made available for you to collect on the next working day in the Library foyer. If you are unable to come into the Library, these can be collected for you by someone else. As the books have been checked out to your account, you do not need to notify us who this will be.


Many resources are available online. An increasing number of platforms comply with usability standards and assistive technologies such as screen readers. However, if you are having any difficulty accessing materials online, do let us know. If you require material electronically but it is unavailable in this format, we may may be able to acquire a copy for your personal use.


There is a small collection of books on well-being topics, which may be of interest. These books have the classmark WB and can be found on the shelves opposite the borrowing machine in the Reading Room. We welcome suggestions for titles to develop this collection.

Using the workspace

We offer a range of furniture which we hope you find comfortable to work at. However, we are always looking for ways of improving your study experience. Please email us if you have any suggestions for a different type of desk or chair.


We have over 50 workspaces at a various-sized tables in both the reading room and study room including large open desks, enclosed carrells, and two standing desks. We also have a number of smaller laptop tables in the Sir David Williams study room.


We have fixed chairs plus some adjustable office chairs, 'easy' chairs, a yoga/exercise ball, and a kneeling chair. There are adjustable office chairs in the Computer Room as well.

Accessible Resources

We have adjustable lamps in every study space; fans and book-rests are available throughout the library to help you adapt your working environment. The library operates a policy of silence but you can help yourself to ear plugs if you require a completely quiet environment in which to work. We have a number of tinted overlays to reduce visual glare, a writing slope and two laptop stands to reduce neck and back strain. We have a limited number of lumbar-support rolls that you can borrow for lower-back support. They are all located on the shelf outside the Library Assistant's office in the Reading Room. Please do not remove them from the reading room and replace them after use for others to use. Do let us know if you require any other equipment to make working in the library more comfortable.

Printed Guides and Notices

We produce study guides, maps and other information in printed form for users to look at on the wall or to take away. If you would prefer these in an alternative format (e.g. on different coloured paper, in a larger font size, or online) please let us know. Many are also available on the Library web pages and the College Library LibGuide.

Academic skills support

We are very happy to see you on a one-to-one basis if you would like to talk about study skills such as critical reading, note making, time management and editing a thesis, as well how to search for items on your reading list, avoiding plagiarism and managing your references. Support is also available online on the College Library LibGuide. The college also offers workshops on a range of topics to help you develop your academic skills.

Using other libraries

In addition to the University Libraries LibGuide, the University Library has a set of pages for Readers with Disabilities. This includes information about the Assistive Technologies Room, which has the following equipment and furniture:

  • a bench at the recommended height for wheelchair users
  • three electrically operated, height-adjustable desks
  • daylight table lamps
  • a range of ergonomic chairs
  • a PC with a 19-inch monitor provides access to the Library catalogue, electronic resources, the Internet and Microsoft Office
  • Dolphin Supernova software, which offers screen-reading and magnification facilities
  • the Dragon Naturally Speaking voice-recognition package
  • scanners
  • an adjustable keyboard
  • a trackball mouse
  • headphones
  • a microphone
  • a CCTV scanner.

Your department or faculty library will be able to advise you about their individual services and support. For contact details, see the Libraries Directory.