Lexington Public Library

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Thanks for your interest in joining the Lexington Public Library!  Your library card is the key to checking out books, downloading audiobooks, taking online classes, and much more.  Please check here to find out if you qualify for a library card and how to apply.

Whether you're just starting out, changing careers, or returning to the workforce, finding a job can be tough.  We can help you land the right position and answer your questions along the way.

You can request a "Bag of Books" to access our materials when you're unable to browse in person.  Complete this form, and we'll pull up to 10 items that match your specified interests.  You can help us locate more items by keeping your requests general.

Thanks for submitting your library card application.  You'll receive a status update soon at the e-mail address you provided.  If you have any questions, please contact us.

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All databases are available from this page.

Are you just starting your family tree, or have you run into a brick wall tracing a distant ancestor? Join us to share tips and learn new research strategies. All levels of experience are welcome!

When you log into many of our services, you'll be asked to provide a PIN (Personal Identification Number) in addition to your library card number.  Your default PIN is typically the last 4 digits of the phone number on file for your account.

Starting your own business or nonprofit is hard work, but we can help you locate the tools you need to get your ideas off the ground.

Digital Archives - Collection

The Black Community News Collection compiles searchable newspaper articles and ads for local Black community events, schools, social gatherings, church events, obituaries, and wedding announcements in older local newspapers in the library’s collection. In addition to Lexington news, the articles contain information about people in many surrounding communities, as well.

In 1898, Lexington’s evening paper, the Leader* began publishing specific news columns about the local Black community and society events. Early columns were scattered and not consistently named; they were titled “Weldon” or “Welden” after the first Black columnist, “In Colored Circles,” “In Colored Society,” and later, became a more standard column titled, “Colored News” and “Colored Notes.” The other local paper, the morning Herald, began publishing a similar column in the 1920s. Lexington at that time had a weekly Black newspaper, the Lexington Standard, that ran from 1892-1912, when it briefly became the Lexington Weekly News before it folded.

The first reporter/columnist of Black social news in the Leader was John Weldon Jewett, a local educator later appointed to the IRS; he would often sign announcements with “Weldon” or “Welden” or “JW.” After his death in 1905, columns were contributed by William Henry Ballard, who opened the first Black pharmacy in Kentucky in 1893, and others. In 1925, the Herald appointed a separate department managed by Lucy J. Cochran, which was housed separately from the general newspaper office, and after multiple editors, D. I. Reid took over in 1934 and ran it until his death in 1950.

Community groups began to challenge the term “colored” and the “Colored Notes” being a separate news column in the 1950s, but Black community news was not integrated with the rest of the newspaper until 1969.

The only surviving issues of the Lexington Standard and the Lexington Weekly News can be found on Chronicling America.

Information about the Lexington newspapers and early Black editors was compiled from:

*The Leader began as the Kentucky Leader in 1888, and several years later became the Daily Leader and the Sunday editions labeled as The Sunday Leader. It became the Lexington Leader in 1901, began sharing Sundays with the Lexington Herald in the 1950s, and eventually fully combined with the Herald to become the Lexington Herald-Leader in 1983.

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The Lexington Public Library’s Digital Archives provide open access to researchers and students to learn more about the rich history of Lexington and Fayette County. It contains a fraction of the Library’s physical holdings, which are housed and available for reference in the Kentucky Room at the Central Library. New material is being digitized and added constantly, so there's always something new to find.

The archives have a simple keyword search, and it is possible to browse the collections by subject, area, or decade. The Lexington Public Library actively reviews and labels materials in our archives with statements that indicate how you may reuse the images, and what sort of permission, if any, you need to do so. Please check the information for each image to determine its legal status.

Do you love making book recommendations? This opportunity is for you! Apply today to be a Kid Librarian and create your own book display. Please fill out the registration forms to apply.

We are working to raise $5 million to build the library our community deserves — and we are over 80% of the way there! We need you to help us cross the finish line. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a lasting positive impact on our community.  

 Your donation will support the spaces and programs the new library will bring to the community. Gifts are tax deductible and can be made over a five-year pledge period.  

Thank you for investing in your public library.

Thank you for thinking of the Friends Book Cellar for donating your: books, CDs, DVDs, and current year magazines.


Have a question?  Ask us!  You can contact us via email, phone, chat, or text.  Book a librarian for one-on-one help.  Suggest a purchase to help us improve our collection.

The Central Library's Parking Garage is available to our customers or anyone needing a parking space.  There are 428 parking spots in the garage, 10 of which are handicapped or van accessible.  The height clearance for garage entry is 13'1".  The height clearance for parking access is 6'4".

Two hours of free parking is provided with a ticket validated inside the Central Library.


How can we help you?  We've gathered a variety of resources for readers, students and educators, job seekers. entrepreneurs and nonprofits, and English language learners.

Meet with a librarian for one-on-one consultation.  Please submit the Book a Librarian Appointment Request Form or call 859-231-5500 during business hours to schedule an appointment.  Appointments are scheduled Monday-Friday during Library business hours and typically last 30 to 45 minutes.

The Lexington Public Library offers an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) service which allows cardholders in good standing to borrow books and magazine articles we do not own and cannot purchase. The Lexington Public Library also lends our books to libraries both inside and outside the Commonwealth of Kentucky.


Everyone deserves a place to discover something new. The Lexington Public Library stands for free and open access to information. We’re a safe, welcoming space for neighbors to come together — opening the door so all Lexingtonians can find what they’re looking for.


We are committed to supporting our democracy by providing nonpartisan voting information, whether you choose to cast an early ballot or go to the polls on Election Day. 


If books are your thing, this is your place.  Browse the newest titles in our collection, take a deep dive into comics and graphic novels with the 741.5 bulletin, request a personalized "bag of books," and more.


Want to learn or improve your skills in a new language? Ready to switch from the bird of prey with ominous reminders? Try Mango Languages to learn practical conversation skills in over 70 world languages on your computer or mobile device. Learn and practice English with ESL courses taught in more than 15 different languages.  You must create an account on the Mango Languages site before you can log into the mobile app.


Languages You Can Learn!

  • Arabic (Levantine)
  • Chinese (Cantonese)
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • Croatian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dari
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Farsi (Persian)
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Greek
  • Haitian Creole
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Indonesian
  • Irish
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Pashto
  • Portuguese (Brazil)
  • Russian
  • Slovak
  • Spanish (Latin America)
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Vietnamese
  • And more!


Mango Languages Mobile App

Delivers fast, easy and effective language learning wherever your travels take you. With free apps from Mango, you can access the same awesome courses when you’re on the go.



Library meeting rooms are available for individuals, non-profit, for profit, study groups, and community organizations seeking to hold meetings, trainings, and workshops.  Meeting rooms are free of charge.  Sterno and other tools/equipment that have an open flame are prohibited.

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Download eBooks, audiobooks, magazines, and more – free with your library card.

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Wonderful podcasts and walking tours have been created by our staff. Please enjoy!

The Materials Selection Policy was initially adopted February 25, 1987 by the Lexington Public Library Board of Trustees and was revised March 24, 1993. The Materials Selection Policy was updated and renamed the Collection Development Policy which was approved by the Board on January 14, 2009. The Board of Trustees assumes full responsibility for all legal actions which may result from the implementation of any policies stated herein.