Show themes

Discoveries that Changed the World

Lines of Thought virtual preview

In 2016, Cambridge University Library is celebrating 600 years as one of the world’s greatest libraries, with numerous events including a major exhibition opening on 11 March.

The wills of William Loring and William Hunden, both proved in March 1416, bequeathed books to ‘the common library of all scholars of the University’. Over the course of the last six centuries, the Library’s collections have grown from a few dozen volumes on a handful of subjects into an extraordinary accumulation of over eight million books, maps, manuscripts and journals, enhanced by an ever-increasing range of electronic resources. From its beginnings as an asset for a tiny community of theologians and canon lawyers in the medieval university, the Library’s mission has expanded to serve the international scholarly community and now, through its digitisation projects, to reach new audiences across the world.

To celebrate its 600th birthday, the spectacular free exhibition Lines of Thought will feature some of Cambridge’s most iconic treasures and influential works, spanning more than 4,000 years of human thought and investigating through six distinct themes how both Cambridge and its collections have changed the world. This preview site offers a few of the treasures visitors will be able to view in the flesh when the exhibition opens on 11 March. Scroll down to link to the items.