Lexington Public Library

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Discover unique resources in our Digital Archives that tell the story of Fayette County.  Visit cemeteries throughout Central Kentucky using our cemetery maps.  Contact our resident experts in the Central Library's Kentucky Room with questions.




The Kentucky Room collection is strongest in Fayette County materials, though we do have a limited amount of materials for most counties in Kentucky. We do not have out-of-town newspapers, or microfilmed county records for counties other than Fayette. The largest libraries for genealogy research are located in Frankfort at the Kentucky Historical Society, and the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives; and the University of Kentucky has a great collection of Kentucky newspaper archives.

Library staff can respond to only the most specific requests. We cannot compile lineages, determine parentage, locate missing persons, or undertake extensive copying projects from books or microfilm. We will provide a free copy of a list of private researchers who can undertake more extensive research on a fee basis.

We are happy to be able to provide this service to everyone, including those living outside of Fayette County and Kentucky.  If you would like to show your support, donations can be made to the Lexington Public Library Foundation.

Please be specific and provide as much information as possible. If requesting articles from the Local History Index, please provide the full citation (article title, newspaper name, date, and page number) and limit your request to 4 articles at a time.
The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs, the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyright material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specific conditions is that the photocopy or reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purpose in excess of "fair use" that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.

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!

Digital Archives - Collection - Group
Fayette County History

Fayette County, Kentucky, has changed enormously since it was created in 1792. This collection contains government documents for the city of Lexington, for Fayette County, and for the merged Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, as well as funeral notices, club directories, scrapbooks, image collections and a history of Lexington Public Library.


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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.

Digital Archives - Collection - Group
historic frankfort kentucky

The Kentucky History collection contains Kentucky-related documents not specifically related to Fayette County.


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This is your gateway to our most popular resources.  Search for books and eBooks, access tools for research and learning, and discover our unique collection of genealogy and local history materials.

Digital Archives - Collection
The Lexington Public Library opened a Carnegie library in 1905. It incorporated the collections of the former subscription Lexington Library Company (est.1801) and the former Transylvania Library (est.1795). The library became a free library in 1899, shortly before moving locations. When the city outgrew the Carnegie building, the Central Library was built and it opened in 1989.
The system contains six branch locations. The largest is the Central Library, located on E. Main St. The Beaumont Branch, located on Fieldstone Way just off Harrodsburg Rd., replaced the Southside Branch in 1997. The Tates Creek Branch, located on Walden Drive, replaced the Lansdowne Branch in 2001. The Village Branch, located on Versailles Rd. at Village Dr., opened in 2004, and is an English-Spanish bilingual branch, with bilingual staff. The Northside Branch, located on Russell Cave Rd., replaced the previous Northside location in 2008. The Eastside Branch, located on Blake James Dr., replaced the Eagle Creek Branch in 2016. 
The contents of the library's digital collection contain some images and brochures at various points in library history. The typed library history by Mary K. Bullitt was a part of the library's cornerstone collection, which was buried in 1902, during the construction of the Carnegie building. It was opened in 1989 when the library moved locations. The other images depict the construction of the Central Library from 1987-1989.
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

The Kentucky Pioneer Genealogy and Records Magazine published various articles about early Kentucky history as a quarterly publication from 1979-1985, then annually 1986-1988. It later became the official publication of the Society of Kentucky Pioneers.

All issues have been digitized. Most of the submissions focus on tax records, early military and militia records, family cemeteries, newspapers, and transcriptions of early vital records. They are word searchable. 

In the summer of 2019, the Lexington History Museum exhibited a 20th anniversary timeline and historical materials exhibit titled, Our Fair City: the 1999 Lexington Fairness Ordinance. The ordinance, Local Ordinance 201-99, passed on July 8th, 1999, and added sexual orientation and gender identity as explicitly protected classes against discrimination in Fayette County employment, housing and public accommodations.
From June 17 - July 19, 2019, the Lexington Public Library hosted the exhibit and several community events surrounding the anniversary. The exhibit also featured a community response section titled, "What Does Fairness Mean To You?" with an opportunity for attendees to give their own response. After the exhibit, the notes were collected and digitized, and are now available for viewing.
To view the 3D interactive exhibit, click here.
Walking Tour

Join us for a walking tour of Downtown Lexington’s historic LGBTQ+ places. The full tour is available as a single MP3, or you can download individual tracks. For the single MP3, music will play between the stops. You can pause the track while you walk between stops.

This tour covers a walking distance of 1.6 miles.

Join us for a walking tour of Downtown Lexington’s historic LGBTQ+ places. The full tour is available as a single MP3, or you can download individual tracks. For the single MP3, music will play between the stops.




You can request a "Bag of Books" to access our materials when you're unable to browse in person.  Complete the form below, 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.  Some examples of requests we can accommodate include:

  • Cozy mysteries
  • Vegan cookbooks
  • Picture books about space
  • Books on CD by James Patterson
  • British TV series on DVD

Please note:  While we will do our best, we may not be able to locate 10 items that match your request.


To use this service, you'll need a library card.  Find out more here.

Need to request specific titles instead?  Log into your account.

Library staff will contact you if they have questions about your request.

Requests are typically filled within 2-3 business days.  You'll receive notification when materials are ready to pick up at the location of your choice.  Need to change your notification method?  Log into your account or give us a call at 859-231-5500.

Once ready, we'll hold your items for 7 days.

Questions?  We're here to help!  Ask us.



Check all that apply.
What types of materials would you like us to pull for you? Remember, general requests help us to locate more items.
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Wonderful podcasts and walking tours have been created by our staff. Please enjoy!

Saturday, February 17 2024 3:00pm - 4:30pm Join us every month to learn about a different artist or art form, and create a unique work inspired by their style (with a touch of your own!). Black History Month focus: Kehinde Wiley
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All databases are available from this page.

The Luna Library, a program of Believing in Forever, collects and distributes children's books with an African American history or Black character focus. It is an alternative for African American parents looking for books that provide context and knowledge to understand the stories of the African American experience in this country for their children. Believing in Forever is a champion of diversity and inclusion, and the positive impact books have on children of all races.

Digital Archives - Collection - Group
Kentucky Progress magazine

The Publications Collection contains runs of historical Kentucky newspapers, almanacs, and magazines. 

Digital Archives - Collection - Group
Sample directory page

The library has a variety of directories and yearbooks with local information. In the library's current digital collection, there is a selection of residential and street directories, yearbooks, school directories, and organizational directories. These are all fully word-searchable.