As a reader, a student, and now as a writer, I have spent my share of days in a library. As a child, I searched for books on horse racing and other interests, the shelves and shelves of tomes on all sorts of subjects my sole source of research in the pre-Internet days. My days of writing research papers from high school to graduate school meant that I spent hours pouring over shelves and through journals, seeking the right sources for whatever argument I was making. Writing this book on Sir Barton meant that I needed to seek THE library in this country that contains 99.9% of what an author like me would need: the Keeneland Library, the single greatest collection of books, photographs, and publications about horse racing in the country.
Libraries are the greatest resources any society can create for itself: a repository of books, documents, visual media, and more that anyone can access either for free or for minimal cost. When we were kids, our school libraries were fun places to find books that sated our thirst for knowledge or imagination. In high school and college, libraries became the source of necessary information for expanding on our ideas, to prove or disprove any argument that we needed to make for that all-important research paper. For this writer and for you guys, my readers, the library provides another amazing resource: Interlibrary Loan.
When I started researching Sir Barton’s career, I knew I had to start with the individual races themselves before I worked to connect the dots between them. The best place to find all of the details of his starts was the Daily Racing Form, the source of form charts and articles about the previous day’s races and other news going back to 1894. The only problem? The Keeneland Library is five hours away! Yikes! How was I going to do this research? Cue the Daily Racing Form archive.