19 Sept 2013

Here's a massive automotive library for you to browse

Bill Crittenden owns The Crittenden Automotive Library.  Bill's a good guy who I speak with on social media.  I asked him to introduce his library.  It's interesting, you should take a look - Matt

For a long time I've been saying that the difference between a hoarder and a collector was organization. It's a good thing I have the organization of someone actually diagnosed with OCD to balance the tendency to accumulate, and accumulate I did. Reference books, especially about cars, were my favorites.

So back in 2005 I had a business partner/father-in-law who was going to start an online store for model car and NASCAR trading cards. I would code, and put up a little information on model cars when I didn't have inventory to go through.

He never did get his inventory together, but I was immediately hooked on being able to share the parts of my collection that I could legally republish or get permission to republish with the entire world. In September of 2006 the collection adopted the name The Crittenden Automotive Library.

Most of what I have is from other online sources. The value in what I do comes from bringing it together in one place, correcting mislabeled material, and organizing it so that it can be browsed without a search engine function.

For example, I spent quite a bit of my night retyping articles written in 1922 from the Library of Congress' newspaper collection that computer text translation had rendered as gibberish. Once they're uploaded they'll be in Google's index in the actual text of the article to be properly searchable and then easily copied and pasted by the Crittenden Library's readers. I also drag government documents out from the file systems they're hidden in and put them where they can be indexed by Google.

The Library also has its own unique material, thousands of reference photographs of all types of cars, as well as the type of writing that can be expected of a car guy who has had regular psychiatric appointments fairly recently in his life.

With the unlimited "shelf space" of the internet, no topic is too obscure to add to the Library. Not only are obscure topics a lot of fun for me, it is from some of this material that I have received the most endearing e-mails, amazed that anyone would find something on a family member or friend on a site with an international audience. Popularity doesn't matter to me, if it's on rubber tires, I'm interested in it! Besides, who needs yet another coffee table book on the history of the Corvette?

It is these encouraging e-mails that give me the greatest motivation. Sure, I have ads on the website and I'm always looking for a sponsorship. Not because I'm trying to get rich off of this, but because time is our most valuable resource, and I would love to have more than a few hours a night before my regular job to accumulate, organize, and make available as much automotive history as possible. Really, my job couldn't be easier, and I'm paid well for it, but I really just want more time to put more material into my Library!

I like to look at it like this: I'm sure any racer would happily take a ride in Formula 1 for free, but they need the money so that they don't have to skip the Australian Grand Prix because it's the busy tax season at the accounting office they work in.

As time is so limited and the ocean of available material so vast, the Library can seem a bit bare in spots. Just remember, this is permanently a work in progress, always getting filled in on a near daily basis, even on Christmas most years. If there's something you'd like to contribute, suggest, or see more of, just e-mail me at admin@carsandracingstuff.com or find me on Twitter @CrittendenAuto.

If you would like to support what I do, just check out CarsAndRacingStuff.com every once in a while and tell your friends about something cool you found there!

Thank you for your time. Did I mention that I'm also completely incapable of writing a short message?

Article by Bill Crittenden
The Crittenden Automotive Library
Screenshot from The Crittenden Automotive Library front page