Lexington Public Library

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Digital Archives - Collection - Group
group of children in Grade 5B at Constitution School
The Community Collections consist of objects shared from local community residents and organizations. Individuals have lent items of local significance to the library to give the larger community awareness and access. The original objects are not owned by the Lexington Public Library. 
Submissions for the Community Collections are open. If you are an individual or organization interested in possibly lending items to be digitized by the library, please contact elibrarian@lexpublib.org. We consider item age, location, content, relevance, privacy considerations, and item condition when determining items to add. Content donors must be the legal copyright holders if the item is not in the public domain.
Kentucky History Awards Icon noting this collection received the award in 2019.


Free program being offered at Northside and Village Branches

Lexington, Kentucky (December 20, 2022) – Lexington Public Library announced today that its popular LPL After School program will return in 2023, beginning January 2. 

LPL After School is a FREE drop-in program for kids aged 5-12 that takes place after regular school hours, Mondays through Fridays from 4-6pm.  The Library, in partnership with God’s Pantry, will provide snacks for all participants as well as STEAM and enrichment activities, homework help, and reading recommendations. And there’s no need to register—just show up!

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Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
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Discuss Cathy Park Hong's National Bestseller, Minor Feelings, An Asian American Reckoning, part memoir, part cultural criticism, which exposes fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America.

Join us for a discussion of Cathy Park Hong's National Bestseller, Minor Feelings, An Asian American Reckoning, part memoir, part cultural criticism, which exposes fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Please pick up a copy at any branch location to join in the discussion!

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Beaumont Branch
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Books, Writing & Authors
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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.

Digital Archives - Collection
The Junior League of Lexington (JLL) is a local nonprofit organization of women committed to improving community through volunteerism. The first Junior League was established in 1901 in New York, and Lexington followed in 1924. Lexington’s chapter began with ten women, whose numbers grew to build the foundation of community service for which today's League is known. Its first years established the Junior League as a founding contributor for Baby Health Services in 1938 and the Lexington Children's Theatre in 1939, nonprofits which both still exist today. In the 1960’s, the JLL also founded the Opportunity Workshop of Lexington (OWL) and the Living Arts and Science Center, which are also both still in operation serving the Lexington community. The also contributed support to many local organizations, with everything from community revitalization to crisis intervention.
The event most closely associated with the Junior League is the annual Junior League Horse Show each July, which began in 1937 and was the organization’s only fundraiser for 70 years. It is the first leg of the Saddlebred Triple Crown, and attracts international attention. The event is still volunteer run and generates enormous local impact. In 2007, the JLL began its annual Holly Day Market as well, which runs in November as another fundraiser.
JLL currently resides in the historic Bodley-Bullock House downtown, and continues its tradition of community support and engagement.  
Digital Archives - Collection
The Brown-Hocker Collection is a community collection of photos and realia from African American events and people in Lexington and Kentucky history. 
The objects in the collection are primarily for events in African American schools and churches. However, there are several items pertaining to civil rights activism in Kentucky. The 1964 March on Frankfort, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson, attracted over 10,000 marchers. The two volumes of “The Kentucky Club Woman” were published by the Kentucky Association of Colored Woman’s Clubs, which represented over 100 Kentucky clubs. There are also several objects honoring the life and legacy of Whitney M. Young, Jr.
The Constitution School and Booker T. Washington Elementary School were both segregated schools for African American children in Lexington. Constitution closed in 1972. 
Digital Archives - Collection
The League of Women Voters of Lexington, Kentucky, was established in 1920. It is the local chapter of a national nonpartisan nonprofit organization that encourages informed and active participation of citizens in local, state, and national government. 
In January 1920, Lexington’s Leader reported, “The Fayette County Equal Rights Association will become the Fayette County League of Women Voters when thirty-six states have ratified the Federal suffrage amendment or the Kentucky Legislature grants presidential suffrage to women.”  The 19th amendment to legalize women’s voting rights had been approved by both the House and Senate in July, 1919, and was submitted to the states for ratification, requiring 36 for adoption. Tennessee became the 36th state on August 18, 1920. On August 26, 1920, the nineteenth amendment was signed into law. 
Kentucky was the 24th state to ratify on January 6, 1920, and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters was formed, seven months before national ratification. In addition, on March 29, 1920, Kentucky passed and signed a separate bill ensuring that Kentucky women would have the right to vote, in case ratification was not reached. 
At the time, Madeline McDowell Breckinridge of Ashland was the president of the Kentucky Equal Rights Association, and Mabel Sawyer McVey was the president of the Fayette County chapter. These and many other organizations had lobbied for national suffrage, and women were able to vote for the first time in the 1920 election between Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox.
Since its creation, the League of Women Voters has played an active role in encouraging voter registration and civic engagement in the community.
Digital Archives - Collection

The Lexington History Museum began in 1999, and opened its doors in the Old Courthouse in 2003. Its purpose is to educate Fayette County about its rich history, and preserve pieces of that history for future generations. The Old Courthouse closed in 2012 for extensive renovations. The History Museum still creates exhibits and works on school and film collaborations to create an understanding and appreciation of local history.

The History Museum's Community Collections currently contains part of the exhibit "Our Fair City: The 1999 Lexington Fairness Ordinance," which was displayed in the summer of 2019 at the Lexington Public Library, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the ordinance's passage.

Digital Archives - Collection

Tina Belle Green Winters Simpler Young (1880-1930), was born in Elmville, Kentucky. Known as Tiny, she was believed to be a sex worker in the 1920s and 30s, and sent $5.00 a week home to support her sister. For a time she worked in the Crawl section of Frankfort, then she moved to Lexington, and finally lived the rest of her life in Cincinnati. The queerness of sex work, a marginalized woman using sex to support family, provides context both to this collection bearing her name and to the LGBTQ+ community that has historically formed families on the sexual margins.



Digital Archives - Collection
David Franklin “Frank” Milam (1918-2000) was born on January 9, 1918 in Charleston, West Virginia.  He married Zelda Bias in September of 1937.    
When the United States entered the war, Frank Milam was married with two preschool-aged children.  Since drafting was almost inevitable, he signed up in order to choose his preferred branch, the Navy. After the war, Frank farmed, and later worked for over 20 years for the Monsanto company in Nitro, WV, as an electrician. Frank and Zelda had six children together, five surviving to adulthood. Like many veterans of World War II, Frank rarely talked about his time on the Yorktown. After his death on June 25, 2000, he was buried in Cunningham Memorial Park, in Saint Albans, WV. His remaining family lives in West Virginia, Kentucky, and scattered through the U.S.
The Milam family has given permission for open viewing of the diary, but these images are not in the public domain. For Milam family permission to use images from the Milam diary, contact georgia111 at twc dot com.
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.

The William Stamps Farish, III Theater at the Central Library is available to the community for lectures, live music, community forums, film festivals, small theatrical productions, dance performances, literary readings, debates, and other creative uses.

Throughout the fall of 2023 and into the winter for 2023, the Lexington Public Library will be embarking on a strategic visioning process that will guide library programs and services for the next three years.

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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