Habitat, in my oh-so-incredibly-humble opinion, is an unsung part of the soul. I can hear your objections rumbling; listen: the essence of a space is not made on $9.95 knick-knacks and strategic throw pillows. We humans are careful little magpies when it comes to snatching up decorative items and showering them in ticky-tacky glory across walls and tables – myself included, I’ll own that – but a lamentably small amount of time is spent preserving the genius of any given habitat (provided, of course, that it has one; I’ll excuse those of us who toil in the many eggshell designer shoeboxes of this country). History is built on both visceral and cerebral foundations – to touch is to remember and to remember is to honor – and a dollop of polish on the outside goes a long way towards preventing the mental tarnish of disinterest. So. Ready, set, renovate? Yes, sir! The Louisville Free Public Library is reopening the historic doors of the West branch this Saturday, September 8th at 12:30pm following a well-earned revamp.
Built in 1908 as one of the first Carnegie libraries in the Louisville system, the West branch is historically recognized as the nation’s first free public library provided for the African American community that supported an entirely black staff. Located on the corner of Tenth and Chestnut Streets, the West branch showcases a substantial archive of African American papers and literature, including documents from the prominent librarian Thomas Blue and the poet Joseph S. Cotter Sr.
Following a closing earlier in the year, the branch will be back in the swing starting this weekend, with a remodeled space better suited to meeting the needs of the community and display its significant collection of black history. The new digs include an expanded children’s area with new furnishing, a fresh space for teens providing computers and areas conducive to studying (or procrastinating), and a brand new reading room specifically devoted to the space’s famous archives.
The unveiling of the West branch – and all its fancy character – will take place Saturday at 12:30pm, featuring a ceremony and open house to follow. Celebrate community, history and habitat as one of Louisville’s most noted branches commemorates a new look for an old soul.
The West Branch is located at 604 South Tenth Street. For more information, visit the event page  or call (502) 574-1611.
Image: Courtesy of Louisville Free Public Library website www.lfpl.org