Noor Islamic Cultural Center Library


Noor Islamic Cultural Center

The Noor Islamic Cultural Center and its library serves the Muslim and non-Muslim community of greater Columbus by promoting goodwill, tolerance, unity and understanding.


On the day we toured, the center was bustling with activity from the sounds of melodic Friday prayers, the smell of delicious samosas and the chatting of congregants outside the mosque promoting events like the film premiere of The Sultan & The Saint.



Inside Noor Islamic Cultural Center’s library during prayers

The Noor Islamic Cultural Center is composed of a mosque, library, classrooms and meeting rooms.  The library fills an important function to house sacred texts, provide a space for study and reflection and accommodate additional congregants during prayer.


Noor is welcoming to all and encourages learning more.  Every Saturday at 11 a.m., the center hosts a gathering open to the public to meet Muslims and learn about Islam.  The center also has a strong partnership with all faiths and was one of first to have suburban interfaith programming.



Over 6,000 across the country are reached by Noor, while 70% of the congregation live within walking distance.  Its programming is considered among the best in the country, and community service plays a strong part in making a difference, building relationships and creating friendships.  From ladies cooking classes, book clubs and National Muslim Soup Kitchen Day, to so much more,  Noor is a devoted community partner. The center collaborates with hospitals, high schools, colleges, YMCA and other organizations to nurture community relations and understanding.



The Noor Islamic Cultural Center is an incredible space and a wonderful part of the Central Ohio community.  We highly recommend visiting and learning more.


Special thanks to Noor’s Board of Directors President Imran Malik as well as Noorgul Dada for their warm welcome and personal tour.


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Congregation Beth Tikvah Rabbi Gary A. Huber Library

Congregation Beth Tikvah is a synagogue in Worthington, Ohio devoted to the principles of modern Reform Judaism.  True to their word, we found them warm and welcoming, and the congregation demonstrated they are an “inclusive synagogue dedicated to educational, religious and social activities that build community and further the cause of Judaism.”


Beth Tikvah, meaning house of hope, constructed a beautiful library that holds promise and hope for multiple generations.  The Rabbi Gary A. Huber Library was completed in September 2016, dedicated in December, and is part of a larger strategic plan.  The library moved into its new space from the east side of the synagogue where a preschool will start in January 2017.  Children’s books will remain in the east while the adult books were evaluated and moved to the new library.

Rabbi Rick Kellner loves the people of Congregation Beth Tikvah.  He admires their dedication to building a strong community around hope, and he envisions the library as a multi-generational learning space.  He believes the library is a sacred space which continues the expression of religious freedom.  Library activities include Shabbat sermons, a sisterhood book club, classes taught by Rabbis Kellner and Huber, board meetings, education activities,  and webinars.  Potential future uses include small weddings and signing ketubahs, Jewish marriage contracts.

Susan Pomerantz,  a former Dublin Schools librarian, set up the library using the Dewey Decimal System (DDS).  In chatting with Pomerantz, we learned Jewish subjects in DDS are limited.  Pomerantz indicated, given time, they may switch to a more comprehensive Jewish classification system like Elazar or Weine.

At the front of the library, a wooden cabinet, called an ark, holds one of the synagogue’s Torahs.  The library’s ark was constructed in the early 1980’s and used in Congregation Beth Tikvah’s original sanctuary until a new sanctuary was complete in 2013.  The library’s Torah came to Congregation Beth Tikvah some 50 years ago and was originally part of a synagogue in Chicago.


It began a lifelong love affair in that temple library surrounded by the feel and ambiance of learning with Hebrew words. – Rabbi Gary A. Huber

The library was dedicated to Congregation Beth Tikvah’s Rabbi Emeritus Gary A. Huber.  Rabbi Huber joined the synagogue in 1983 and became Rabbi Emeritus in 2011.  Rabbi Huber holds a Doctor of Divinity  from Hebrew Union College, and he has served as chaplain at several of Columbus’ psychiatric hospitals.

At a young age, Rabbi Huber developed a reverence for language and libraries.  As a high school student during a six-week independent study at the United Hebrew Temple’s library in Saint Louis, Rabbi Huber studied Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers).  During this seminal experience, he learned how to read texts better as a close reader, teasing out the subtleties and nuances of words.  Rabbi Huber remarked, “In that library in a reform temple growing up there first sparked the idea I wanted to be a Rabbi.  That spark came, and it grew and nourished in that temple library and it never went away.” (Watch and Listen to Rabbi Emeritus Huber’s entire talk before his D’var Torah [sermon] starting at 1:15:06.)

Before opening the library, Rabbi Huber led the hanging ceremony of the Mezuzahan inscription with specific Torah passages, and Shehecheyanu (Blessing of Praise).  Listen to the congregation’s beautiful singing of Shehecheyanu.

We were delighted and impressed by Congregation Beth Tikvah’s embrace of their new library.  The Rabbi Gary A. Huber Library will remain a testament to lifelong learning and a beacon of hope for generations to come.

Special thanks to Rabbi Kellner, Rabbi Emeritus Huber, Executive Director Debbie Vinocur, Susan Pomerantz, Joanne Notowidigdo and the entire Beth Tikvah Congregation for your warm hospitality during your special day dedicating the Rabbi Gary A. Huber Library.

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Cbus Libraries Celebrates Local Luminaries


Bryan Loar, Co-Founder
Cbus Libraries
bryan [at]

Andrea Dixon, Co-Founder
Cbus Libraries
dixon [at]

Cbus Libraries Celebrates Local Luminaries
Two little free libraries in Whitehall honor Jerrie Mock and John T. Ward

COLUMBUS, Ohio, November 15, 2016—Cbus Libraries, a grassroots initiative to promote libraries, has created two community book exchanges that celebrate the Whitehall community and the joy of reading.

Former Whitehall resident, Jerrie Mock was the first woman to fly solo around the world and deserves greater recognition. Biographer Nancy Roe Pimm noted Ms. Mock is an “inspiration” and a testament that “even ordinary people can do extraordinary things.” Whitehall, the location of Central Ohio’s first airport, Norton Field, makes an excellent site to honor Ms. Mock.

Underground Railroad conductor, John T. Ward lived in the once rural area of Whitehall. A member of the Anti-Slavery Baptist Church and a pastor for forty years of Columbus’ oldest black Baptist Church, Second Baptist, Mr. Ward saved many lives while facing grave danger. Mr. Ward co-founded Columbus’ E.E. Ward Moving and Storage, the oldest minority-owned business in the United States.

Little free libraries are community-driven book exchanges and part of Little Free®’s worldwide network of more than 40,000 stewards. Cbus Libraries’ Mock and Ward libraries can be found at the entrances of Lamby Lane Park and Country Club Village neighborhood.

The Mock and Ward little free libraries came to fruition through a United Way of Central Ohio Neighborhood Partnership Grant and collaboration with Rebuilding Together of Central Ohio, Half Price Books, the City of Whitehall and generous private book donors.

About Cbus Libraries
Cbus Libraries’ mission is to bring to light the amazing libraries and professionals who enrich Central Ohio and beyond.  Co-founded by two librarians, Andrea Dixon and Bryan Loar, Cbus Libraries reaches more than 3,500 online followers worldwide and features a Central Ohio library every month.  The libraries honoring Jerrie Mock and John T. Ward are part of its “Libraries Everywhere” program. Learn more at

Central Ohio Little Libraries


A sample of little libraries & their stewards in Central Ohio

Little libraries are as unique and varied as their owners.  Called by various names like little lending libraries, Little Free Libraries® or book exchanges, they all share the same objective — community enrichment.

“Getting books in kids’ hands is the whole point.” – Sandy Coen

The concept is simple.  A community member or organization installs a small to medium-sized structure to promote literacy and community.  Library materials can be borrowed for an indefinite period and are either returned or shared with others.  Surrounding neighbors often donate materials to the libraries.  Once established, many library caretakers, known as stewards, are relieved of regularly replenishing their libraries as communities become invested in the libraries’ success.


Sandy Coen & Florence Jain sharing a laugh

Meet Florence & Sandy

Florence Jain and Sandy Coen were one of the first, if not the first, Little Free Library® stewards in Central Ohio.  Since 2011, the couple have witnessed an explosion of little libraries and their awareness.  Constructed of reclaimed renovation materials like oak flooring from their kitchen, Sandy and Florence enjoy the personal details of their library, including honoring their cats, Moo and Simon.  In addition to their library, Sandy has built four other libraries, a Hobbit-themed library being among them.  As part of a larger community, the couple helped Kyrgyz librarians start the first three little libraries in Kyrgyzstan and participated in World Book Night.  Learn more about  their library and other activities here.


Artist Aaron Luther Thomas & Project Manager Evelyn Van Til at 4th Street Farms’ Little Free Library® dedication

4th Street Farms

4th Street Farms is a community-driven initiative to eat, empower, educate, and employ our skills together.

4th Street Farms‘ Little Free Library® is a direct extension of their mission to empower and educate and is a partnership with Bonga Media Group and the Weinland Park Community Civic Association.  The farm provides an inspiring setting for the library and also gives the perfect space for community events and readings.  Ohio Wesleyan University’s A Good Start School and other community donors have gifted children’s books to the library, and A Good Start School has committed to literacy programming.  Situated in a neighborhood where only 18% of the residents have full-time employment, the library supports “youth connections, literacy, education, safety, creativity, and a lifetime of engagement within a revitalizing diverse neighborhood.”  During the library’s dedication, Evelyn Van Til and Woody Drake spoke passionately about community and how the farm nourishes the body while the library cultivates the mind.


Jon Blake & one of his latest designs incorporating reclaimed stained glass

Jon Blake, Prolific Little Library Maker

Since October 2015, Jon has crafted 22 little libraries, starting with his own. Jon is a master at replicating the look of stewards’ homes, and his own library is a perfect likeness of his house.  He enjoys the sense of community that little libraries create, meeting neighbors and creating a neighborhood feel.  After 40 years in the commercial drywall industry, Jon found an artistic outlet in “retirement.”  His love of folk art and working with his hands originated in the creation of amazingly intricate birdhouses, growing to doll houses and then playhouses.  Little libraries are a natural extension of his folk art sensibilities.  Moreover, his own library has inspired him to become a reader.  Guessing he’d read a total of two books during high school, Jon shared he’s read 40-50 books since last October, especially enjoying Les Misérables.  Jon plans to continue experimenting with library designs and wonders if a little library art exhibit might be a possibility.


Cherry Street Library with art by Miss Birdy and Coreroc

Cbus Libraries’ Cherry Street Library

Cbus Libraries was invited to create a little library as part of PlaceMakes’ Cherry Street initiative.  The project re-imagines how we interact, move and engage with our urban environment.  The library welcomes pedestrians to W. Cherry Street while offering literature and nontraditional materials like yarn and knitting needles.  Aesthetically, the little library incorporates historical maps of its exact location from the late 1800’s while embracing contemporary urban culture with artwork by artists Coreroc, Covert, Ketchup and Miss Birdy.  In addition to the library, Cbus Libraries also knit bombed the adjacent pole with a crafty, cherry-inspired creation.  Learn more about how PlaceMakes is transforming downtown Columbus here.



We’ve mapped chartered Little Free Libraries® (in yellow) and independent little libraries (in purple).  Our map is open to edit with a Google account, and we encourage you to explore and enhance it.

With so many little libraries in Central Ohio, it won’t be hard to find one near you.  Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own!  In fact, let us know if you are currently or planning to become a steward in the comments below.

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