[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]
As soon as you step into the lobby of the Jewish Community Center, you know change is afoot. Through the glass walls of the Naamani Library, you can see that books and shelves have disappeared and bare cinderblock is visible in places.
What you see is the implementation of one step in the Jewish Community of Louisville’s vision for change. The Naamani Library is undergoing a makeover from an understaffed, underused repository of books, many of which had not been checked out for years into a comfortable 21st century gathering place that will add a kosher Java Brewing Co. outlet to an updated and streamlined Naamani Library. A doorway is being added to allow easy access to the Patio Gallery when extra seating is needed, while preserving the space for meetings, events and exhibits.
Negotiations have now been completed, and after a gap of several years with no kosher restaurant in Louisville, Java Brewing Co. will soon be operating under the supervision of the Vaad HaKashruth. Plans are to begin serving before the end of the year, barring complications.
No JCL funds are being used for this project. All constructions costs are being covered by donations from individuals. The work is being managed by Bornstein Building Co.
The Naamani Library collection is in good hands, too.
The library first opened in 1977, under the auspices of the Bureau of Jewish Education and its executive director Reuben Resnik. In 1978, Evie Topcik, a professional librarian, was hired.
For seven years, Topcik nurtured the library, creating a children’s corner, story hours and summer reading programs to ensure its resources were used. Its collections were maintained and updated for many years. “I loved this library,” she said. “This was my gift to the community.
Today, Topcik and another librarian, Kim Russman Reinhardt, are going through the collection and weeding out the worn and tattered volumes that haven’t been checked out in years. When they’re done, Topcik says, a much smaller but more current and relevant core collection will remain and it will be available.
The coffee shop will be a comfortable place to grab a drink or a snack and settle in to read or visit with friends. It will be ideal for parents who want to wait while their children are involved in activities at the JCC, for business meetings, or those who just want a place to relax with a cup of coffee.
Watch Community for additional details.