How to Help Us Save History

Most people are unaware of just how unusual the NSLM Library collections are. Most libraries set an acquisition plan and purchase their materials to fill the collection. However, almost everything at NSLM was donated by members of the sporting community, making it a unique communal reflection. We receive thousands of donated books every year, many are rare or antiquarian books.

Sadly, some donated books come to us in a very “well loved” condition. It’s impossible to make these damaged books available to the researchers that visit us. Further, it’s often prohibitively expensive to outright replace the book.

Sporting Almanac, 1839 (B018). Adopt for $150.

This week, we launched our first-ever Book Adoption Program. We’re asking the public for assistance in restoring these books to a safe and usable condition, preserving their contents for future research.

All adoptions will be commemorated with a special plate in the restored book. It’s an excellent way to honor friends and family for the holidays.

I’m excited by the response we’ve had to the program so far. With thousands of research visits every year, it’s critical for us to keep our books in a usable condition. So many of our titles are out of print, and for some of them, their contents are at risk of being lost for good. It’s intimidating (but true) that our donors and members often are all that stand between preservation or loss.

Racing Calendars: 1866-1867 (B017). Adopt for $275.

What goes into book restoration? It all depends on what’s ailing the book. In many cases, our adoptable books are suffering from disintegrating spines, deteriorating paper or leather covers, detached boards, or weak hinges.

Victorian Photo Album, .c 1890 (B003). Adopt for $300.

Each adoption covers the work of a qualified restoration professional to repair the damage.


The Thoroughbred Horse, 1867 (B010). Adopt for $150.

We started with 18 books for adoption, and 13 were adopted in the first two days! The five books pictured in this blog post are still available for adoption.

Ouvres de F. Baucher, 1867 (B013). Adopt for $275.

In the future we’ll have another blog post to cover the restoration work on some of our adopted books. If you are interested in learning more, you can get in touch or view our program catalog.


Wedding Photography by Spiering Photography

John Connolly has served as the George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Librarian at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) since early 2014. He is responsible for the care of the Library collections, including books, magazines, photographs, diaries, letters, and much more. The NSLM collections span over 350 years of the history of equestrian sport, as well as fly fishing, wing shooting, and other field sports. Have a question? Contact John by e-mail


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  1. We just digitized our medical journals from 1877 to 1900, and those from the 20th century are being digitized through a national project. as much as we’d like to restore our books, we thought the best use was to digitize them so they’re more widely available and fully searchable.


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