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New Driving Park Library Branch Opens July 12

Sally Wenxin Xia Sally Wenxin Xia New Driving Park Library Branch Opens July 12All Photos by Sally Wenxin Xia.
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The new Driving Park Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is less than two weeks away from opening its doors to the public. The new 15,000 square foot building is more than twice as large as the former branch.

Designed by NBBJ and located at 1422 East Livingston Avenue, the new Driving Park Library is the first new branch in a decade with nine more on the way (Dublin, Hilliard, Main Library, Martin Luther King, Northern Lights, Northside, Parsons, Shepard and Whitehall). The old building, which was built in 1972 and located three blocks away, is now up for sale. The branch rebuilding program is expected to $120 million, aiming to either relocate or renovate branches with Whitehall, Northern Lights and Parsons next in line. All other buildings are slated to be completed by the end of 2017.

Aside from the change in scale, the new Driving Park branch will offer many more features than the old location with a focus on fostering young minds. While the current branch does have a space designated to serve the youth population, the new one will have a larger space serving ages zero through 18, including a kindergarten readiness area that allows parents to have baby reading time.

“Parents can bring in infants and get them started on basic learning skills,” said Ben Zenitsky, Marketing and Communications Specialist for the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

In addition, the new branch will also have a teen area that features an Xbox, a children’s area and a much larger homework help center.

“For us, it’s about really impacting young minds and making sure that kids are getting access to all the resources that can help them succeed,” Zenitsky added.

A new “life skills room” is a result of a partnership with Columbus State Community College, which will also be included in the library. The room will teach basic life skills ranging from wellness to financing to Internet usage to English as second language.

“It’s about helping customers of all ages, from applying for jobs to creating resumes.” Zenitsky said.

Also, the new branch will have three ample meeting rooms that are free to anyone with a library card to reserve online and use. The meeting rooms can accommodate 100 chairs in total with removable desks and interactive white boards.

The new branch is also equipped with 46 public computers, five iPads, furniture that has embedded plug-ins, a rain garden, and daylight sensors in order to be more energy efficient.

The neighborhood’s need for the new library and the current condition of the old one is what made the Driving Park Branch the best candidate to be the first one replaced.

“In 2008 we hired a firm to conduct a study about the surface area of how big our building should be, and this building design was the first to be selected because the existing library branch was so small,” said Wendy Tressler, Manager of the 2020 Vision Program at CML. “It was literally a square box with two windows.”

The Driving Park Branch currently sees around 200 people coming in every day, according to branch manager Mel Jones.

“This is one of the biggest things that has happened to the area in decades,” said  Jones. “I think it’s really going to show big benefits pretty quickly.”

The new branch will host a community celebration on its opening day, July 12, which is free and open to the public from 12:30pm to 3pm. The celebration will feature remark from Mayor Coleman, music and other entertainment.

For ongoing discussion of Columbus Metro Library renovations, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

For more information, visit www.columbuslibrary.org/locations/DrivingPark.

All Photos by Sally Wenxin Xia.

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