John Muir Collection. Photo by Rod Currier.
Vision: To preserve, protect and enjoy the finest books, photographs, artwork and maps covering mountaineering and exploration, natural history and conservation, environmental philosophy and culture.
- Preserve rare and classic materials that are at risk of permanent loss as the Age of Print is replaced by the Digital Age.
- Protect a core collection in a secure, well maintained space where these materials will be treated as the treasures they are.
- Enjoy the experience of encounter with classic books and visual media available to Chapter members by visiting the Legacy Library.
Goal: To raise the Chapter’s fine core collection to a world-class level and to develop the most user friendly procedures for its enjoyment, consistent with preserving and protecting the collection.
What is the history of the Angeles Chapter library?
The library is exactly as old as the Chapter. Immediately after our founding in 1912, John Muir autographed several of his books to the Chapter and today the John Muir collection is among the strongest sections of the core collection.
The library was co-located with the Chapter for many years, which was logical but did not facilitate its use. The library cards on most books show few entries, and rare books were kept in a locked glass case. This helped preserve the collection but minimized its value to members especially since the Chapter was in a downtown office building that few members visited.
In 2013, faced with absorbing the economic impact of the Great Recession, the Chapter took cost-saving steps including a 50 percent reduction in office floor space. This required relocating the library to the well-maintained archive of Chapter member Glenn Pascall, who took on the duties of Chapter librarian.
The goal is to co-locate the Living Legacy Library with Chapter offices and to develop procedures that increase member awareness of the collection. (see details below under heading Phase II).
Ansel Adams Collection. Photo by Rod Currier.
What is the current status of the Chapter library?
Glenn Pascall took delivery of some 75 cubic feet of material (50 large book cartons) and spent countless hours organizing the contents into a core collection (described below) and special collections, as well as topical material that had lost its value over time and could be discarded. Glenn combined the core collection with his own extensive library on the same subjects and prepared legal documents providing for the combined inventory to become the Chapter library again in the future.
In some cases, specialized subject matter within the collection was donated to other non-profit libraries. For example, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County gratefully received the Chapter’s world wildlife books and is making them available for scholarly research and for use in its public school education programs – placing these fine books in active use.
The core collection of rare books has never been a lending library, and is not so today. However, Glenn welcomes inquiries and visitors who have specific research or reference needs. With regard to more common books that members wish to read or make part of their own library, Glenn can advise on easy and affordable access to such books.
Donor Recognition Profile
The voluntary contribution of high-quality material from three long-time Chapter members inspired the Living Legacy Library initiative. Below are their stories. As other donors join in the work, they will be recognized in a continuously updated feature on this website.
At age 78, Ernie Elmore of Temescal Canyon in Riverside County is still physically impressive with massive physique in arms, legs and body. Ernie began his climbing days as an Eagle Scout in Pasadena and conquered the nearby slopes before sunrise, returning from a few thousand feet up south-facing canyons in the San Gabriels when family members were enjoying breakfast. Ernie continued his early rising ways, culminating with Mt. Whitney ascents timed to enjoy the sunrise from the summit.
Ernie’s collection has enabled us to complete our file of topographic maps of the San Gabriel Mountains and Sierra Nevada, and includes nearly all the huge BLM maps providing crucial access to information about the Desert Peaks. Ernie’s file also includes the elegant series of front country, high country, and comprehensive recreation maps of the San Gabriels.
How does the donation process work?
Below is a detailed description of the scope of the core collection. It is important to note that where a book is listed, the Chapter library may still welcome a second copy. Many valuable volumes in the core collection are moderately worn with use and all have library markings in excess of what would be applied today. Moreover, some books, maps and other materials are so outstanding that their preservation justifies multiple copies.
If you are considering donating books to the Living Legacy Library, Glenn can visit your home or office to learn your personal history of involvement with the Chapter and to walk through your library with you. Glenn can tell you whether a book is within the scope of the core collection, if we already have a copy, and whether we might wish to have a duplicate. You will be given a signed acknowledgement of items donated and your name will appear on the permanent roster of Legacy Library donors.
As an alternative you can ship materials directly to Glenn at the current archive. In that event you would contact him by e-mail and have a follow-up phone conversation to coordinate. You would receive a specific receipt for your gift.
The donation process is meant to be a celebration, not an experience of loss. That is why your sharing of personal history is an important part of the process. Also, when in doubt, do not make a donation of items you may later wish you had kept. Donate only if and when you are sure their placement in the Living Legacy Library will bring you the greatest sense of fulfillment.
You will be asked to sign a release of the materials, a practice developed by the long-standing archival program of Chapter activities and events managed by Chapter historian Bob Cates. Glenn and Bob will coordinate and if you have a donation of historic photographs of Chapter group outings, printed programs, etc. Glenn will pass these on to Bob, who maintains the Chapter archive for such materials, including a special collection at the UCLA library.
One motive for this initiative is the crucial window of time – perhaps the next 5 years or so – for preserving and protecting older material as the Age of Print gives way to the Digital Age.. The response from among our 40,000 members to the Living Legacy Library proposal is likely to be significant. Thus we ask that you advise us if your situation is time-sensitive due to an estate, an urgent need to dispose of materials, or other personal considerations. In that event, you will go to the “head of the line” in Glenn’s sequence of contacts with donors.
Donor Recognition Profile
At age 85, Paul Carlton of San Clemente is among the most active of Chapter members. He is equally present and accounted for at public hearings on the environment and at local and regional Chapter gatherings. Paul’s lively enthusiasm and ready engagement recall his years exploring exotic places all over the globe and, like Ernie Emore, rich memories of joining treasured companions on the John Muir Trail from the floor of Yosemite Valley to 13,777 foot trail pass near Mt. Whitney.
For decades, Paul was a U.S. foreign service officer in Turkey, Cyprus and the Greek Isles. His library is a gem of archeology and comes closer to home with volumes as “Afoot and Afield in Orange County” (not previously in our library) and a Pacific Crest Trail Guide dating from 1980 that fascinatingly details the time when the Tejon Ranch Company did not allow access for the Trail, forcing PCT hikers to trudge across the Mojave Desert along Highway 58.
What is the long-range plan?
Phase I will extend through the end of next year. Its emphasis will be on outreach to the donor network, responding to questions and interests, and building the collection. The goal will be to secure, preserve and protect as many classic materials as possible from the roster of fine personal libraries in Los Angeles and Orange Counties – the Angeles Chapter region. These materials will be organized and integrated with the core collection on a continuous basis during Phase I.
Phase II will begin in 2015. It will supplement Phase I, which will continue for another 5 years. Phase II will focus on identifying permanent Chapter library space, ideally co-located with the Chapter office, and developing procedures to maximize the benefit of the library to Chapter members. We envision new features such as a “book of the month” on our home page that will describe a classic work and indicate how Chapter members can come to the library to enjoy it. We also envision a referral and advisory service for Chapter members seeking to locate books for personal use, and outreach to scholars and experts with an interest in reviewing rare materials for historical or artistic information.
Donor Recognition Profile
96-year old Fred Winch of Santa Monica finds the Sierra Club a place of connection for everyone who cares about the future of the planet. Fred’s love of the West embraces not only in the magnificent Pacific ranges but the resonance of Native American and European-American encounter in the Intermountain West.
Fred knew he was in possession of something special – the complete file of a magazine named “The American West” that was launched in 1964 and folded in 1976, perhaps because it was just too beautifully produced to sustain the economics of publishing. Today thanks to Fred this classic quarterly is part of the Angeles Chapter collection – a major addition to Western history as part of our library.
What is not included in the core collection?
The library is focused on subject matter and formats that are superior in print. Other topics that are better served through the Internet and current communications media are not part of the core collection.
An example is global climate change – perhaps today’s most important environmental issue and of vital concern to the Angeles Chapter. However, we are not seeking materials on this topic for the Legacy Library, with the exception of books with visual evidence such as glaciers. The Internet and periodicals are essential to keeping complex topics like climate change in focus. The Chapter utilizes those topical formats, not a Legacy Library, to keep our own files current and our own efforts relevant.
The same rationale applies to most issues that fall under the heading of current controversies in environmental politics, including the ever-evolving roster of regional conservation issues addressed by the Chapter. Our volunteers, officers and staff involved in these fast-moving issues utilize the most effective sources of current information available, rather than relying on a library.
One benefit of restricting materials in the Legacy Library in this way is that they qualify under the 501(c)(3) standard as educational and charitable – and non-political. Thus donations qualify for tax-deductible treatment.
What areas in the Core Collection do we seek to enhance through the Living Legacy Library initiative?
• The John Muir collection. Nothing is more outstanding in our existing library than the set of early editions of Muir’s books, several of them autographed. However, each of these books came out in multiple versions over a 30-year period – not only in different editions but by various publishers, each of whom had their own unique and attractive way of packaging a book. At that level, our collection is not complete.
We have other notable early works by Clarence King, Smeaton Chase (creator of the California hiking guidebook), J. M. Hutchings (Yosemite, 1885) and Charles Francis Saunders (the first major book on Southern California mountains).
• The Classic Alpinism collection. John Tyndall, Edward Whymper and Martin Conway are bywords in opening up the Alps to climbing and doing books to tell the story. Our collection begins with them and continues into the 20s and 30s with books by German authors focused on the Swiss Alps, and into the 50s and 60s with French Alpinists Lionel Terray and Gaston Rebuffat.
• The Vittorio Sella collection. Widely acknowledged by Ansel Adams and others as an unsurpassed mountain photographer, Sella a century ago recorded daring expeditions to the Caucasus, Karakoram Himalaya, Alaska and Africa in stunning black-and-white images published in books of the highest quality that today are top-rated mountaineering and exploration classics. We have most but not all of them. From the same era are other remarkable narratives and photographs of long-forgotten pioneering expeditions to the Himalayas.
• The Mt. Everest collection. The 1921-24 British expeditions that culminated in the disappearance of Mallory and Irvine made Mt. Everest “the prize” until it was climbed 30 years later. We have the classic accounts by Howard-Bury, Bruce, and Norton in the 1920s, Ruttledge, Tilman, Shipton and Smythe in the 1930s and Hunt, Hillary and Tenzing in the 1950s.
In parallel were German expeditions to Nanga Parbat, which we have as reported in German, along with assaults on peaks including K2 and Annapurna from the 1930s to modern times. Also, intrepid writer-explorers Heinrich Harrar and George Schaller penetrated the remotest reaches of Nepal and Tibet with accounts contained in our library.
• Scholars of the Sierra collection. From the 1920s through 1950s a group of dedicated scholar-explorers wrote of the landforms, geology and climbing challenges of the Sierra Nevada. Notable figures included Francis P. Farquahar, Franclois Matthes, Norman Clyde, Hervey Voge, Leigh Ortenburger and Steve Roper.
Their works are complemented by coverage of the Oregon Cascades, Mt. Rainier, the British Columbia ranges and Alaska from the 1910s to modern times.
The Ansel Adams collection. Adams was the “visual John Muir” of Sierra Club history and we have virtually all his famous images in high-quality volumes edited by Nancy Newhall and others. This work culminated with the Sierra Club folio series that won national awards in the 1960s. In that series, Adams was joined by Elliot Porter, Cedric Wright, Philip Hyde, Edward Weston and Harvey Manning as featured photographers. We have the complete file, in moderately worn condition.
More recently, a new generation of color photographers and climbers led by Galen Rowell and Fred Beckey joined the ranks with outstanding works also included in the library.
• Philosophers of the Environment collection. David Brower led the Sierra Club in crucial years and was editor of the format series. A great environmental voice, he is joined in our collection by Rachel Carson and famed naturalists Aldo Leopold, Joseph Wood Crutch and Loren Eiseley, along with celebrated nature commentators Wallace Stegner, John McPhee, Barry Lopez and Edward Abbey.
• Exploration of the West & Native American collection. The library contains many classic volumes on the Euro-American exploration of the American West, including such notable events as John Wesley Powell’s Colorado River journey. The same collection includes books on Native American environmental folkways and wisdom traditions, many by tribal authors.
• Regional environment collection. The library reflects the distinctive geographic variety of our region and the combination of magnificent natural areas with a large urban area in books on the history and beauty of the Santa Monica Mountains, the San Gabriels, etc. including volumes autographed to the Chapter by premier regional naturalist and historian John W. Robinson.
• The Guidebooks collection. While not the most individually valuable books, this collection is one of our strongest in variety and depth, whether the focus is road or trail, hiking or climbing. Areas covered include Britain, the Alps, the Andes, Mexico, the California Coast, the Southern California Mountains, the Bay Area, California forests and woodlands, the Colorado and Mojave deserts, the Pacific Crest Trail, the John Muir Trail, the High Sierra, Death Valley, the Desert Peaks, the Intermountain West, the Southwest, the Rockies and Cascades, Canada and Alaska, New England, the Adirondacks and the Smoky Mountains.
• The Map collection. Topographic map coverage is virtually complete for the San Gabriel, San Bernardino and San Jacinto Mountains, the Sierra Nevada, and the California desert. It is extensive but not complete for the Cascades and is sparse for the Rockies. Folding map coverage includes virtually all points of interest in California, Nevada and Arizona, and most destinations in the “rest of the West.” Map coverage for the rest of the nation and world is less complete.
• The Photo collection. We have not systematically collected photographs but we have a significant inventory. These are what would be described as “scenic” or “art” photography and we invite you to add to it if you have outstanding examples of your own or others’ work. Pictures of gatherings at Chapter outings and events properly belong in the archive managed by Chapter historian Bob Cates. If you have such material, we will put you in touch with Bob.
What areas of coverage do we hope to add to the Living Legacy Library?
Reviewing our core collection, almost every reader will think of books that relate, including categories beyond what is mentioned above. We invite you to suggest expanded areas of coverage. Here are two examples:
Surprisingly, we do not have a file of Sierra Club Bulletins, even though these are widely regarded as the finest publication of their kind. This would be a welcome addition to the Chapter library.
The library also does not contain any examples of the remarkable “Southern California Beautiful” movement that flourished from 1880 to 1930 and resulted in many handsome books published during that era. The movement was based on an urban development vision that affects our conservation work to this day.
Horw to become part of the Living Legacy Library initiative?
Contact Angeles Chapter librarian Glenn Pascall
to make inquiries, arrange a home visit or donate materials directly to the library.