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Library and Reading Room Records

Reference Code: GBR/0279/CPS 9

Scope and Contents

The Cambridge Philosophical Society established a Reading Room and Library within a couple of years of its foundation. As the 19th century progressed the ‘Philosophical Library’ came to be seen as a vital resource to the University of Cambridge: when the Society sold its house on All Saints Passage in 1865, the University granted it the use of a room on the New Museums site to house the Library. In 1881, when the Library had become cramped, the University agreed to house and staff the Library in return for its use being extended to all members of the University. In 1935 the Society and its Library moved into the University’s Arts School building.
From its early years the Library’s acquisitions had comprised chiefly periodicals, many acquired by exchanges with other learned societies worldwide: this is reflected in the Philosophical Library’s change of name in 1967 to the Scientific Periodicals Library. In 1976 it became a dependent library of Cambridge University Library while retaining its links with the Society. It was renamed the Central Science Library in 1995 when some of the collections were moved to the University’s Betty and Gordon Moore Library on the site of the Centre for Mathematical Sciences on Clarkson Road. The Central Sciences Library closed in 2015, as part of the planned redevelopment of the New Museums Site, and amalgamated its core collections with the Betty and Gordon Moore Library.
The Library records listed here include an unbroken series of borrowing records from 1845 to 1964, together with some early 20thC Library accounts and a miscellany of records relating to acquisitions and general administration of the Library.


  • 1834 - 1992


31 item(s) : paper

Language of Materials


Related Materials

As at October 2017, the following are held at the University’s Betty and Gordon Moore Library: a volume of Philosophical Library Committee minutes 1881-1961; and a volume containing an early Philosophical Library catalogue.


Cambridge Philosophical Society

2015-05-08 08:29:56+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge Philosophical Society Repository

CPS Archivist, Joan Bullock-Anderson
c/o Sedgwick Museum Archives, A G Brighton Building
Madingley Rise
Cambridge CB3 0UD