The Mountain Club of South Africa


The MCSA (Cape Town Section) Library

A valuable asset of the MCSA (Cape Town Section), the library is the largest of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It contains over 2000 books (most of which are not available as e-books), DVDs, videos, magazines, and maps, as well as a complete set of all the MCSA journals, together with journals from other famous mountaineering clubs around the world. Catering for a wide range of members, the material covers mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, walking, exploration, mountain rescue, wilderness medicine, mountaineering history, travel and adventure writing, and South African flora and fauna. (There are some travel guides donated by members, but these are not formally acquired because of the rapidity with which they date.) The library has a small annual budget for acquisitions.

If you would like to volunteer to help in the library, please contact the Honorary Librarian (details below).

Location and Access

The library is based upstairs at the Clubhouse, and is open to members during office hours (10h00 – 14h00 Monday to Friday) and for an hour before Friday evening socials and talks, when a library subcommittee member will be on duty to assist in finding books and reshelving. Members may borrow – by signing out – two books at a time for one month, and two DVDs for one week. The journals and items in the historical collection may not be removed from the library, but members are welcome to photograph the relevant articles they wish to read, or to read them in the library.

Books and Online Catalogue

The books are shelved in the numerical order in which they were acquired, so to find a particular one that you’re looking for, you can use the old card index or the new electronic database, which has a search facility by author, title, or keywords. You can access and search the online library catalogue from the comfort of your home or on your cell phone.

Instructions for accessing and using the catalogue

Visit the link above on your computer, cellphone or tablet to open the catalogue. For easy offline access, you can download the spreadsheet to your device. Be sure to revisit the link on a regular basis to access the up-to-date version of the file.

  • To search for an author, title or topic in the catalogue: If you are on a PC, press Ctrl+F; on a Mac, press Command+F. If you have an Android phone, tap the three dots (⋮) to find the search function, and on an iPhone or iPad, tap “More”. Type your keyword in the box that appears, e.g. Patagonia. The box will show you how many references there are. The first in the catalogue will be highlighted. To scroll between instances, use the up and down arrows next to the box.
  • To organise the catalogue so that you can view an alphabetical list of authors, select column C so that it is highlighted, select “Data” in the top row, then choose “Sort by A → Z”.
  • To organise the catalogue so that you can view an alphabetical list of titles, select column D so that it is highlighted, select “Data” in the top row, then choose “Sort by A → Z”.
  • To organise the catalogue to view it by numerical order of acquisition, e.g. to see the latest books added to the library, select column B so that it is highlighted, select “Data” in the top row, then choose “Sort by A → Z”.
  • Column E is the publisher, F is the date of publication, G is a brief description of the book.

MCSA Journals, and Journal Indexes

The entire collection of MCSA Journals published since 1891 is available to paid-up members of the Cape Town Section who have registered their credentials (using the specific email address we have on record for you) on the Club’s portal on the Docwize document management service. This system includes useful search and bookmarking functionality.

In addition, the Journals are accessible in PDF format on the members’ only portion of the MCSA Journals page on this website.

The indexes of MCSA Journals published since 1894 can be accessed on the MCSA’s national website.


Although the library has a set of 1:50,000 maps for the Western Cape, they are there for consultation and may not be removed from the library. You may prefer to collect your own set, in which case, you can buy them from the Department of Rural Development – National Geo-spatial Information, Van der Sterr Building, 19 Rhodes Ave, Mowbray, Cape Town, 7925.
Phone: 021 658 4300

Honorary Librarian

Kate McCallum, or WhatsApp 072 382 9372.

Club Archives

The Club archives are not part of the Library, but can be accessed at the UCT Special Collections.