Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning

The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning at 251 West Second Street in Lexington is a hub for all things literary. It offers courses, special events, and is home to the prestigious Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame.

With programs available for adults, youth, and children, the Center stands as a beacon of reading advocacy and written expression through print and technology. Its mission, according to the Center’s website, is the following: “The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning empowers people to explore and express their voices through imaginative learning and the literary arts.”


Writers inducted into the Writers Hall of Fame include Wendell Berry, Cleanth Brooks, Nikki Finney, Janice Holt Giles, Sue Grafton, Barbara Kingsolver, Bobbie Ann Mason, Thomas Merton, Sam Sheperd, Jesse Stuart, Helen Thomas, Hunter S. Thompson, and Robert Penn Warren, among many others.

Read about poet Nikki Finney’s induction here:

The Place

The cornerstone of the building was laid in 1902, in the center of the years philanthropist Andrew Carnegie launched more than 2,500 libraries nationwide in towns like Lexington that would benefit for years to come. At the time, the population of Lexington was approximately 26,000.

In 1989, under Lexington Mayor Scotty Baesler, the building was repurposed “to create a community learning and arts center like no other in the country,” according to the Center website. It re-opened in 1992 as the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning with literacy advocate First Lady Barbara Bush as the keynote speaker at the dedication. By this point, Lexington’s population was approximately ten times the number of residents when Carnegie initiated its first public library. Today, it has grown to even a third more residents than in 1989, increasing the need and value of its Carnegie Center far beyond the population scope Lexington had at its inception.

To register for classes and events, visit

The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning is the second stop on the Kentucky Author Adventures Trail.

Patricia Smart