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Ginny Pannabecker

April/May/June 2012
Volume 58, Number 2

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Spotlight on Special Libraries

The National Sporting Library and Museum

For a few brief minutes each May, the nation’s attention turns to the Kentucky Derby — a premier event in the old sport of thoroughbred racing. In 2011, Derby winner Animal Kingdom’s dirt-filled shoes joined rare books and 19th century prints as part of “In the Blacksmith Shop,” an exhibit at the National Sporting Library and Museum (NSLM) in equestrian-minded Middleburg, Virginia. This combination of rare books and art with popular culture is no coincidence. While primarily a research center and steward of rare books and art, the NSLM also strives to share its treasures with the public.

Founded in 1954 as the National Sporting Library, the institution is dedicated to preserving, promoting, and sharing the literature, art, and culture of equestrian and field sports (hunting and fishing). Through the generosity of donors, holdings have expanded to include over 17,000 books and works of art.

A photo of two buildings - on the left is a two story white building, to the right is a large two story brick building with two large trees in front. The buildings line a large cul-de-sac with a rounder of manicured hedges in the center.
The National Sporting Library and Museum, Middleburg, Virginia. The Library is on the left and the Museum is on the right. Courtesy of the National Sporting Library and Museum.

Books and manuscripts

The John H. Daniels Fellowship supports the work of visiting scholars from all over the world and has been awarded annually since 2007. Funded fellowship topics have included stable design in 19th-century America, Irish sporting novelists Edith Somerville and Martin Ross, conservation and ethics in American fly fishing, and Early Modern horsemanship manuals. University faculty, graduate students, museum curators, librarians, writers, and journalists are encouraged to apply.

The Library holds an annual duplicate book sale to raise funds for acquisitions, and also sponsors a book fair during the Annual Hunt. During its Country Stable Tour weekend, the institution features exhibits in the Forrest E. Mars, Sr. gallery and hosts lectures, symposia, and special events such as a polo match and an historic coaching weekend. The institution has also published the first and second editions of F. Turner Reuter’s Animal and Sporting Artists in America (2008, 2011), an 880-page compendium.

In 2009, the National Sporting Library began the renovation and expansion of an 1804 building on its seven-acre campus to create a sporting art museum which opened in October 2011. The institution’s name was expanded, as well, to the National Sporting Library and Museum.

The Library’s online catalog of books, periodicals and general information may be found at

National Sporting Library and Museum staff VL

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