The Alpine Club Library

Phone 020 7613 0745

Tadeusz Hudowski is a keen  Polish mountaineer and a member of the Alpine Club.  He climbs regularly in Britain and the Alps.

The Library, housed in the Club's premises, has an unrivalled collection of over 30,000 books, magazines, club journals, expedition reports and rare historic material. Some modern guidebooks, photographs (see AC Photo Library) historic diaries, press cuttings and correspondence (see AC Archives), and some historical maps. It also provide access for members to the Club's collection of World Maps.

The Library is open to all from 10.00am - 5.30pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays (except during August and the Christmas - New Year period). For AC members, it remains open until 7pm on lecture evenings. Often on Thursdays work such as re-shelving and cataloguing takes place, so appointments to visit are possible by arrangement. If travel from afar is involved, check opening times in advance.

Members of the AC, ABMSAC, and Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society may use the Library free of charge (proof of membership may be required); other users are invited to make a financial contribution to running costs. AC members may use the Royal Geographical Society Library free on production of their AC membership card.

Many books can be borrowed by AC members, the exceptions being guidebooks and valuable items. Books can be borrowed in person or by post within the UK, on payment of postage. Photocopies can be requested in person, by post or e-mail, and are supplied subject to copyright regulations and the payment of a fee per page.

Library Computer Workstation. A dedicated computer workstation for library users has recently been installed at the Alpine Club. The aim is to bring together a wide range of digital resources that complement the books and periodicals on the surrounding shelves.

The Library's computerised catalogue is a comprehensive search tool for both Library and Archive material. Most catalogue entries can be accessed, and Expedition Reports can be separately searched. The professional Librarian will assist enquirers, and offer guidance to people who need to conduct extensive research.

The Library was founded in 1858, in the first year of the Club. In 1972 it was established as a separate charitable trust, managed by trustees appointed by the British Mountaineering Council and the Royal Geographical Society as well as the Alpine Club. The Library relies greatly on financial donations and legacies, as well as gifts of books, photos or artefacts. Diaries, correspondence, and press cuttings are welcomed as gifts or deposits to the Archives. The Honorary Treasurer of the Library will readily advise on procedure for making bequests and tax-effective covenanted donations.

The Honorary Librarian (D J Lovatt) reviews all books donated to the Library and selects those to be added to the collection or to provide duplicates or triplicates for lending. Books which are superfluous to need are offered for sale.  The Honorary Secretary of the Library               (see list of officers) may be contacted for latest listings of the wide range of second-hand books, journals, guidebooks, etc, that become available.

Databases of Chamonix Climbs - compiled by Gus Morton
Gus Morton, who has for some time lived in the Chamonix Valley, has devoted considerable time to summarising guidebook data on many of the easier climbing routes in the Chamonix area and we are very grateful to him for generously making his databases available to Club Members. The three files that we have are; Recommended Easier Routes in the Mont Blanc Range, which also provides web links to more detailed information; Easy Ice Near Chamonix, which lists the easier water ice routes available and the relevant guidebooks; and Over Eighty Fun Fives, Mont Blanc Region, which provides a list of predominantly grade 5 rock routes that can be accessed from Chamonix together with the relevant guide book reference.

This has been published continuously since1859. Searchable indexes are available at the library or through the Publications pages of the website.

The Archives collection in the Library stretches over 150 years of alpinism. It comprises around 30,000 items and includes diaries, correspondence, and press cuttings from, and about members and other eminent mountaineers. Items of particular interest are letters by Whymper and Winthrop Young, Maurice Wilson’s diary, and the recently acquired Don Whillans archive. The archives are catalogued on the National Archives database held at Kew  (type Alpine Club in the search box).  Further enquiries should be directed to the Honorary Archivist.

The Club holds a wonderful collection of over 35,000 historic and modern photographs in the form of prints, negatives, glass plates, lantern slides, transparencies and albums. The Photo Library has been set up to conserve and manage this collection, ensure accessibility and to raise funds through promoting the use of the images in publishing and media.

The work presently involves conserving the original photographs, cataloguing the collection onto computer storage and assembling a core library of scanned images; an initial selection can be viewed in the Photo Album. There is also work in progress to build up a collection of modern mountaineering photographs from members’ collections.

Members and others wishing to publish books or articles and requiring images of photographs can visit the Photo Library by arrangement and should contact the photo library direct. Reproduction fees are charged for the images.

The  Himalayan Index, produced under the aegis of the Library, contains records of over 7,500 ascents of or attempts on 3,500 peaks over 6000m in the Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Hindu Raj and (some) in Tibet and China. It can provide listings of peaks within a specific area, ascents of or attempts on them, and many journal references. A fuller version is located at the Club, which contains 30,000 names of members of expeditions, as well as some other details and notes. Contact the Librarian in the first instance to consult the Index.

ALPINE CLUB, 55/56 Charlotte Road, London EC2A 3QF
Library Telephone: (+44) (0)20 7613 0745       Email: