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The keeneland Library

Preserving Racing's Rich History

Established in 1939, the Keeneland Library is a reference and research library and the world’s largest repository of the Thoroughbred industry open to the public. The Library received the 2002 Special Eclipse Award for its contributions to the industry, and it is home to more than 30,000 books dating from the late 1500s, 5 million photographic negatives and prints dating from the late 1800s, and millions of newspaper and magazine articles about all aspects of the industry from the early 1700s to today.

Each year, the Library, located on Keeneland’s grounds and open to the public weekdays year-round, connects thousands of journalists, academics, racing fans, and industry stakeholders from all 50 states and more than 25 countries to information and image resources for their publications, broadcasts, exhibits, films, media guides, and websites. 

The Library also preserves and shares its collections with its growing global patron base through targeted digitization projects, exhibits, educational programs for youth and adults, research workshops for equine industry students and the general public, and its Lecture Series that celebrates the published works of authors who conducted their research at the Library.

Learn more about Keeneland Library’s vision, mission, strategic goals, and impacts in our 2023 Year-End Report.

Library Lecture Series

Keeneland’s popular Library Lecture Series continues this summer with three public events that celebrate recently published works about Thoroughbred racing whose authors conduct research at Keeneland Library. Proceeds from our Library Lecture Series programs support the Keeneland Library Foundation’s education and outreach initiatives that freely reach thousands of youth and adults in Kentucky and beyond each year.

July 24: Virginia Slachman will discuss Betrayed in the Bluegrass
August 29: Josh Pons will discuss Letters from Country Life: Adolphe Pons, Man o’ War, and the Founding of Maryland’s Oldest Thoroughbred Farm
September 24: Tom Hammond will discuss Races, Games, and Olympic Dreams: A Sportscaster’s Life


Thank you to all our patrons who supported our 2023-2024 Lecture Series:
May 11, 2023: Katherine Mooney – Isaac Murphy: The Rise and Fall of a Black Jockey
June 22, 2023: Mark Shrager – The First Kentucky Derby: Thirteen Black Jockeys, One Shady Owner, and the Little Red Horse That Wasn’t Supposed to Win
August 24, 2023: Jennifer Kelly – The Foxes of Belair: Gallant Fox, Omaha, and the Quest for the Triple Crown
September 28, 2023: Patricia McQueen – Secretariat’s Legacy: The Sons, Daughters and Descendants Who Keep His Legend Alive
November 18, 2023: Geraldine Brooks – Horse
January 14, 2024: Kim Wickens – Lexington: The Extraordinary Life and Turbulent Times of America’s Legendary Racehorse
February 21, 2024: Fred Kray – Broken
March 7, 2024: John Paul Miller – False Riches
May 9, 2024: Avalyn Hunter – The Kentucky Oaks: 150 Years of Running for the Lilies

starting gate storytime

Starting Gate Storytime

Join us for Starting Gate Storytime at Keeneland Library, where the horse is front and center in live readings of select children’s stories. Each book is paired with a literacy, art, history, industry awareness, or STEM activity, and Keeneland Kids Club’s favorite mascot Buckles will be on hand to brush up on his reading and spend time with young racing fans and horse lovers. This series is ideal for learners ages 4 through 8. Starting Gate Storytime programs are free but book your spot soon, because these tickets are sure to move fast out of the starting gate.

May 11: Pasture Bedtime by Jenny H. Lyman
June 8: 
The True Story of Zippy Chippy: The Little Horse That Couldn’t by Artie Bennett
July 13: 
Seabiscuit the Wonder Horse by Meghan McCarthy
August 17:
 Upset: The Original Dark Horse by Maddy Zanetti
September 21: Perfect Timing: How Isaac Murphy Became One of the World’s Greatest Jockeys by Patsi B. Trollinger
November 16: 
A Moose in My Starting Gate by: Vicki Addesso Dodd
December 7: 
Twas the Night Before Christmoose by: Vicki Addesso Dodd

A Rite of Spring: The 100th Running of the Blue Grass Stakes

April 1 through August 16, 2024

Keeneland Library’s newest exhibit, A Rite of Spring: The 100th Running of the Blue Grass Stakes, opens this spring, featuring photographs that capture race highlights over the decades displayed alongside memorabilia from notable jockeys Bill Shoemaker and Mike Manganello and celebrated runners such as Whirlaway, Riva Ridge, Spectacular Bid, and Strike the Gold. The exhibit’s photographs, curated from Keeneland Library collections and public submissions from professional and amateur photographers, spotlight some of the greatest moments of the time-honored spring stakes.  

The Heart of the Turf: Racing’s Black Pioneers

This traveling exhibit highlights the lives and careers of 100 African American horsemen and women from the mid-1800s to today through exhibited interpretive panels, audio guide, exhibit companion book, and free educational programs for youth and adults. 

heart of turf

The Collections

The Keeneland Library collections feature a wide array of information, ranging from photographs, newspaper clippings, historic and current periodicals, and nearly every significant book written about the Thoroughbred and racing and breeding. The Library’s book collections span a broad range of topics, including sales and racing, equine science and art, biographies, the history of the horse in culture, racing history, memoirs, equine law and economics, theories about handicapping and breeding, and even fiction, photography and poetry.

Past Exhibits

View the previous exhibits displayed at the Library.

Life's Work

Keeneland is dedicated to sharing and preserving the stories of the horsemen and horsewomen at the heart of the Thoroughbred industry through the Life's Work project.

Keeneland Library Foundation

In 2014, Keeneland formed the Keeneland Library Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to support unique Keeneland Library projects that preserve and share the Thoroughbred industry’s past and present with an eye to the future. The Keeneland Library Foundation’s mission is to broaden Keeneland Library’s access and outreach initiatives through educational programs for youth and adults, exhibits, and targeted digitization and preservation projects of its one-of-a-kind, world-class collections.


The Online Catalog

The online catalog is an index of the books, journals and special collections held in the Keeneland Library. While you are in the Library, you can consult the catalog via the public access computers to locate materials in the building. If you are a remote researcher, you can explore the collections before making a trip to the Library. Search by title, author, subject or keyword to prepare a list of materials to consult.

While the online catalog is designed as an index to collections, it can often point you to full-text, online versions of books and journals.

If prompted to sign-in with a Library name, enter "Keeneland Library" and no password.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Visit Us

The Keeneland Library is free and open to the public.

The Keeneland Library is a reference-only, non-circulating library that offers wireless Internet, work and study spaces and public-access computers.

The Keeneland Library is open year-round to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The Library is closed on all federal holidays.

The Library will be closed from June 28 to July 5 for Keeneland’s annual shutdown week. We will resume standard hours on July 8.

Keeneland Library
4201 Versailles Rd.
Lexington, KY 40510
Phone: 859 288-4224