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When The Explorers Club was incorporated in 1905, one of its stated aims was “to acquire and maintain a library of exploration and travel”. The Club has been gathering materials ever since. Among the Library’s treasures are a rare copy of the Napoleonic Description de l’Egypte, a 16th century edition of Hakluyt’s Principal Navigations and a copy of Bradford’s Arctic Regions.

The heart of the library is its 13,000 volume book collection, and its greatest treasures among the Club’s 1,400 rare books. The oldest item in the collection is a c.1470 account of travel throught the holy land; the most recent are books by and about members. Holdings are particularly strong for 19th and 20th century science, scientific investigation and terrestrial exploration, as well as member books. In addition, the library contains several copies of important polar works, often personally inscribed by explorers such as Cook, Peary, Amundsen and Stefansson.

The Club’s 5,000 item map library includes maps from each of the continents, as well as some maps focused on oceans, deserts and mountains. Dates for the maps range from the late-19th to 21st centuries, but the bulk of the collection consists of commercial and military maps from the 1950s-1970s. The collection does not, by and large, contain maps drawn or annotated by explorers.

Finally, the Club has a film library consisting of more than 200 reels of film and over 200 VHS tapes. Access to these holdings is limited, however, due to preservation concerns and lack of adequate playback equipment.

Access to our library collection is currently provided through onsite catalogs, lists and partial lists. Please contact the Curator with specific inquiries.

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Background image photography courtesy of members Christoph Baumer, Neil Laughton, Matt Harris and Don Walsh's image of the Bathyscape Trieste