The library was founded by a bequest of Mary Ann Armitt in order that the intellectual activity of Ambleside could be celebrated. The roots of the organisation go back to the Ambleside Book Society which was founded in 1828 and which formed part of the library.
Its most famous supporter was Beatrix Potter who donated books and paintings in her lifetime, and on her death bequeathed her portfolios of natural history watercolours and her personal copies of her "little books". These are on permanent display in an exhibition Beatrix Potter: Image and Reality.
The library of over 11,000 books covers the local and natural history of the Ambleside area and the wider Lake District. It is an important resource for information on notable people connected with the area, including William Wordsworth, Harriet Martineau, John Ruskin, Frederic Yates, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley and Kurt Schwitters.
- Armitt Library collection of oil paintings, BBC, retrieved 14 July 2014
- ARMITT LIBRARY AND MUSEUM CENTRE, Registered Charity no. 1054762 at the Charity Commission
- Armitt Library, independentlibraries.co.uk, retrieved 14 July 2014
- Frederick Yates, The Armitt Museum, retrieved 13 July 2014