Housed in the original Lexington Public Library building, the Carnegie Center loves to share in the rich history of our location. The library building is one of 2,509 Carnegie libraries built between 1883 and 1929 with money donated by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The building’s cornerstone was laid in 1902 and opened to the public in 1905. This library was loved and enjoyed by many Lexingtonians throughout the 1980’s. Our patrons fondly remember climbing to the children’s library section, which is now home to the Center’s Tutoring Room.

After Lexington Public Library moved to a larger location in 1989, the original Carnegie library building quickly deteriorated, showing signs of neglect. Some people wanted to demolish the building; others wanted to renovate it for condominiums. People like Lexington Mayor Scotty Baesler wanted to see the building restored for public use. The Mayor created a committee of community leaders and asked them to find a new use for the building. In keeping with the beliefs of the original funder, Andrew Carnegie, the group decided to create a community learning and arts center like no other in the country.

In a state known for illiteracy and where school test scores on writing are low, there are also a surprising number of nationally-recognized writers.

This knowledge helped shape the Carnegie program design.

After an extensive restoration, the building was ready for its new resident: The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. First Lady Barbara Bush, who was the guest speaker at the 1992 dedication, said, “This center is going to reach out to everyone—families, workers, students, and teachers.  And that’s what communities throughout the nation need to learn to do.” Since that time, the center has helped thousands of people of all ages, races, income levels, and educational backgrounds with their goals for writing, reading, and learning new things.

Rent Our Space – MH*

Thank you for thinking of the Carnegie Center as a venue to host your event. We host a number of rentals including weddings, receptions and parties, author readings, conferences, and more in our beautiful, historic Carnegie library building. Below you will find information regarding the rental use of our space.

Costs of rentals during business hours:
$100/hour, $50/hour for non-profits

This fee include tables, chairs, PA system, speakers, microphone, etc.

Business hours:
     Monday-Thursday: 10:00 am-7:30 pm
Friday: 10:00 am-5:00 pm
Saturdays 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Costs of rentals outside of business hours:
$150/hour, $100/hour for non-profits
with aminimumof $750 (total of 5 hours which may include set-up/breakdown)

There is also a $150 cleaning feefor all rentals outside of regular business hours. This cost not only covers sweeping/mopping the floors following your event, but also the cleaning of our restrooms. In addition, this minimal fee helps cover the cost of toilet paper, trash bags, light bulbs, Wi-Fi, etc. At least one staff member will be working in the building during your event, in case of an emergency.

Half of your total rental fee is due with the contract to reserve the space. Your remaining balance is due no later than two weeks before your event.

Renter responsibilities:

While we’d like to provide support in any way we can, due to our small staff we are unable to assist with other planning aspects leading up to and including the day of the event. The renter will be responsible for all aspects of event coordination, including:

  • SET-UP & CLEAN-UP: The room will be left clean, but not set-up. You will be responsible for all set-up/clean-up, including moving all chairs/tables back to their original location, and for taking all trash to curb.
  • FOOD: We do not have a preferred caterer. Renter may bring in their own drinks and food. For our alcohol policy, please ask to see a sample event contract.
  • ADVERTISING: This includes marketing, making and distributing flyers, etc. We can provide general directions to our building, but do not plan to make our staff the point of contact for guests of your event.

For pricing, available dates, and additional information, please contact Maddy Hamilton, Rental Coordinator, by phone at 859-254-4175 ext. 21 or by email at

Get Involved


We hope to see you soon at the Carnegie Center, home to the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame and writers and readers of all levels.

Join Us

251 West Second Street
Lexington, KY 40507


(859) 254-4175

The building is currently closed to the public until further notice.

Monday – Thursday: 10:00am – 7:30pm
Friday: 10:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday: 10:00am – 2:00pm
Sunday: CLOSED

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