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Sneak Preview: The New Northside Library Branch

Brent Warren Brent Warren Sneak Preview: The New Northside Library BranchPhoto by Brent Warren.
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The official “wall-breaking” ceremony for the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Northside Branch was held on March 1st of last year, with construction of the new branch starting soon after.

Work on the new 25,000 square foot building at 1423 N. High St. is now in its final stages – the grand opening is tentatively scheduled for some time in June. Ben Zenitsky, CML Marketing & Communications Specialist, recently gave Columbus Underground a hard hat tour of the new building.

At more than triple the size of the old branch, Zenitsky said that the new library is designed to meet the needs of a rapidly changing area.

“The construction going on around here is unbelievable,” he said. “We’re at the confluence of so many neighborhoods, and it’s a very sought-after area…so we’re changing to meet the needs of the community.”

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Patrons entering the building – either from High Street or from the rear parking lot – will be greeted by a large, open space framed by ramps leading both up and down. The lower floor will hold the fiction and nonfiction collections, a cafe, study rooms, and three large meeting rooms.

Seating areas have been carved out along the ramp, putting people right in the windows and providing a space to look out on the urban scene unfolding on High Street.

“The vision behind our new buildings is all about transparency,” said Zenitsky. “We want to draw people in from the outside.”

A second floor reading loft takes the transparency idea to a whole new level.

“These are 270 degree views, the type of views typically reserved for the few people who can afford to live in a new building on High Street,” said Zenitsky. “It’s going to be an amazing place to read and hang out, and that’s a real emphasis for us…we don’t want people to just come in, get book and leave.”

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Some other highlights:

  • A light-filled children’s section with a separate space devoted to the library’s Ready for Kindergarten programming.
  • A dedicated space for teens, in addition to a homework help room that will be open to all ages.
  • Accordion walls will divide the three meeting rooms, allowing for different arrangements depending on group size.
  • A fish tank on the first floor.
  • A Quiet Room on the Mezzanine level.

The new branch, despite being so much larger, will hold roughly the same number of books as the old one, according to Zenitsky.

“Older branches had tall shelves, and they were really packed in with books,” he said. “Now, we’re bringing those shelves down in height and opening up the spaces…but our customers of course will still have access to between four and five million titles through the Central Library Consortium.”

NBBJ  designed the new library, the same architecture firm behind the new Driving Park branch, the planned Dublin branch, and an eight-story hotel proposed for the southwest corner of Eighth and High.

All photos by Brent Warren.

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