Mazamas, founded in 1894, is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting mountaineering and that offers classes and leads hikes and climbs (open to both organization members and non-members.) While I enjoy camping and hiking as much (or perhaps slightly more) than the next person, I am by no stretch of the imagination a mountaineer. So you might be wondering what inspired me to trek all the way out into East Portland to Mazamas headquarters. Their library, of course! If you’re anything like me, when the phrase “mountaineering library” pops up in your web browser, you get your shoes on and head over to check it out ASAP.
The Mazama Library is located in the basement of the vaguely church-like grey building that is the Mazamas headquarters. When I arrived a friendly staff person (or volunteer?) directed me down the stairs. Before entering the library, I passed through a large common area furnished comfortably with couches and tables. In addition to the seating this room housed one of the most awesome wall maps I’ve ever seen.
Once inside the small library, I found myself alone as everyone seemed to be in a meeting (I could hear people discussing collection development but couldn’t see anyone.) The solitude gave me the chance to peruse the library’s collection of field guides, technical manuals, maps, periodicals, and other mountaineering and nature themed materials (the library’s website indicates that they also collect videos, though I did not see any when I visited) at my leisure. Though small, the library was thoughtfully organized and included several unique items including a signpost index (not pictured) – how awesome is that?
The Mazamas website states that the library is, “nationally recognized as holding one of the top mountaineering collections in the country.” And while I do not have any way to confirm this assertion, I can say that I loved the library’s decore and would recommend you visit – particularly if you’re the outdoors-y type or if you just happen to enjoy unusual libraries.
The library is open to the public, though those wishing to borrow materials must first become Mazamas members. For more information about the library, visit their website at http://www.mazamas.org/your/adventure/starts-here/C26/