Rare Books—The Rare Books Collection of the AAC includes several significant contributions to mountain scholarship. The Central Asian Library includes 30,000 rare and scarce volumes with an emphasis on mountain exploration in Tibet, Nepal, India, and China. It also includes the Yoshizawa Collection of 2,000 Japanese-language volumes, which extensively documents Japanese exploration in the world's mountainous regions. The John M. Boyle Himalayan Library's mission is to collect every book printed about expeditions to the Himalayas 8,000m peaks, with every effort to acquire signed first editions, as well as every other edition published, in every language available. The Henry Montagnier Collection features 19th century books on the Alps. This collection was expanded by AAC collection efforts to include bound volumes spanning the 16th to 21st century, and every region of the world.
New acquisitions are funded in part by endowments specific to the collections, as well as by donation. Rare books are non-circulating but are available to the public during library hours. Discovery tools include the on-line catalog and finding aids. Use is supervised by the librarian on duty. Patrons view books in the library reading room, are provided gloves, book cradles and book weights as appropriate and are instructed in proper handling of fragile items.