Lexington Public Library

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The rotunda at the main library showing the Foucault pendulum, designed by Adalin Wichman.[1]

The Lexington Public Library opened in 1905 in Lexington, Kentucky.[2] It incorporated the collection of the former Lexington Library Company (est.1801) and the former Transylvania Library (est.1795).[3] Today the main location of the Lexington Public Library system is Central Library along East Main Street connected to Park Plaza Apartments.

The library's facade includes rose-colored granite, with large spacious windows facing the street and Phoenix Park. A rotunda in the lobby, the focal point of the building, spans all five floors and houses the world's largest ceiling clock and Foucault pendulum, designed by Lexington sculptor Adalin Wichman.[1] The rotunda also includes a frieze depicting the history of the horse in the Bluegrass. Included within the complex is the 138-seat Farish Theater, meeting rooms and an atrium reading lounge. A cafe and an art gallery are located on the ground floor, and the Friends of the Library book seller is in the basement.

The library currently helps its customers in many ways. There is a book van to help reach homebound citizens, as well as a Book Buddy program that pairs a homebound adult with another adult willing to pick up library materials for them. Computer classes, storytimes, and other popular programs are offered for adults and children. Materials are available in multiple languages and multiple formats, including downloadable books and audio. The library also subscribes to several databases in a wide subject range. One of the more popular areas for researchers is the Kentucky Room on the reference floor, which houses records of Kentucky census information and Kentucky history. It also contains microfilm of the Lexington Herald-Leader, as well as its forerunners, the Lexington Herald and the Lexington Leader, along with other Kentucky newspapers.

Central Library is complemented by five branches. The largest branch, at 27,000 square feet (2,500 m2), is the Northside Branch, located on Russell Cave Road. It replaced the previous Northside location in 2008.[4] The Tates Creek Branch is located on Walden Drive, just off Tates Creek Rd. It replaced the Lansdowne Branch in 2001.[5] The Eagle Creek Branch is on North Eagle Creek Dr, near Richmond Rd., having replaced the Eastland Branch in 1992.[6] The Beaumont Branch on Harrodsburg Rd. replaced the Southside Branch in 1997.[7] Village Branch, located on Versailles Rd. at Village Dr., was opened in 2004.[8] It boasts the distinction of being an English-Spanish bilingual branch, with a completely bilingual staff.


Ground was broken for the new library on June 3, 1987.[9] Then-Mayor Scotty Baesler noted that the new library project was the "most significant building in downtown." During the preliminary renderings of the structure, it was compared to a "warehouse" and a "jail" due to its unappealing facade;[10] this was soon corrected when a granite facade was installed.

Construction began on the new library during the rising of Park Plaza. The cost of the 108,000 sq ft (10,000 m2). facility was $10 million. Enough space was reserved during the planning stages of the library that it withstand expansion for 20 to 30 years. The unfilled space was leased to the University of Kentucky.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Copley, Rich (2013-03-12). "Lexington artist Adalin Wichman, known for her work and wit, dies at 91". Lexington Herald Leader. Retrieved 2013-04-05. 
  2. ^ http://www.lexpublib.org/page/history
  3. ^ Harris, 2001
  4. ^ "New library has high-tech checkout - Northside branch set to open Friday." 11 Sept 2008. Herald-Leader [Lexington]. 5 Feb 2013.
  5. ^ "New homes for tomes." 23 Jan 2001. Herald-Leader [Lexington]. 9 Mar 2006.
  6. ^ "Books, not buildings, make a library." 8 Sept 1992. Herald-Leader [Lexington]. 9 Mar 2006.
  7. ^ "Book lovers love new Beaumont Branch Library." 9 Dec 1997. Herald Leader [Lexington]. 9 Mar 2007.
  8. ^ "It takes a Village Branch - Yes, it's open, new library caters to Lexington's diverse community" 19 Sept 2004. Herald-Leader [Lexington]. 9 Mar 2007.
  9. ^ "Upbeat ceremony downtown ground broken for Central Library." 3 June 1987. Herald-Leader [Lexington]. 10 Nov. 2006.
  10. ^ Honeycutt, Valarie. "Planned exterior of library questioned." 26 June 1986. Herald-Leader [Lexington]. 10 Nov. 2006.

Further reading[edit]

  • Timothy M. Harris. A source of useful information: the Lexington Library, 1795-1810. Kentucky Libraries 65 no3, Summer 2001

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°2′43″N 84°29′48″W / 38.04528°N 84.49667°W / 38.04528; -84.49667