Cambridge Science Festival at the University Library

Cambridge Science Festival started yesterday and over the next two weeks, the city will be even more than usually full of inventions, discoveries and experiments. The University Library is joining in and celebrating its 600th anniversary by putting on a series of events  which will uncover some of our diverse collections from spy maps to séances and addressing the Festival theme of managing the vast amounts of data we collect and generate to increase understanding of our world.

Our first events today and tomorrow (8th and 9th March) feature an exploration of the Library’s Historical Printing Room, discovering how type is made and pages composed and allowing visitors to print their own keepsake.

Cluespace: the Hunden Games

Cluespace: the Hunden Games

Saturday 12th March features two exciting new events exploring both the collections and the history of the Library. Free to drop in to Encoding Music which investigates the evolution of music notation through the ages, with an interactive trail through the Library and live performances to enjoy as well as recorded music! Meanwhile, our popular (and alas, already fully booked!) Cluescape: the Hunden Games is an escape game in which teams of 2-8 players will, with the help of the Library’s collections and some famous figures along the way, attempt to solve puzzles, crack codes and find a hidden prize.

Multispectral imaging

Multispectral imaging

On Monday 14th March we are delighted to be collaborating with the Centre for Computing History by hosting an engaging display of vintage machines, magazines and manuals from the dawn of personal computing. The following day, 15th March, Now you see it, now you don’t: the hidden messages in manuscripts enables visitors to discover how specialist imaging techniques can shed new light on ancient manuscripts and reveal what the treasures of the Library are hiding.

The Office of Scholarly Communication will be getting involved on Thursday 17th March, with the opportunity to drop in and test your searching skills against the clock in the Entrance Hall. Later that day visit the Milstein Seminar Rooms to discover the story behind the discovery of the planet Neptune with a talk and display of some of the library’s manuscripts and rare books. On Friday 18th March the archives of the Society for Psychical Research will be revealed to provide a fascinating insight into the history of investigating ghosts and spirits and other paranormal phenomena.


Enigma machine

Finally on Saturday 19th March two fully-booked events explore one of the Library’s key collections and a world-changing technological break-through. From 10.30–12.00 the Genizah Research Unit will be offering a family-friendly playful and interactive introduction to the world of medieval medicine, its main theories, practitioners, patients and practices according to the manuscript fragments found in the Cairo Genizah. Following this, from 14.00–16.30, Dr James Grimes will be exploring the history and mathematics of cryptography, including the demonstration of a genuine Enigma machine. Following the talk, visitors will uncover secret spy, military and escape maps from the Library’s collections and take part in a code-breaking workshop.

For full details of events taking place at the University Library and across Cambridge between now and 20 March, please visit

Lucy Welch

600th events and outreach co-ordinator

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