An Exclusive Look At The New Northside Library Location

The new Northside Branch wants to take all the ‘Shhhh’ out of libraries.

As the opening of the new Northside library branch draws closer, the anticipation of the public swells with it. People driving or walking by have noticed the building’s progress, eager to get a glimpse of how the inside construction has been faring. Wait not longer fellow bibliophiles, I was able to get a sneak peak at Columbus Metro Library’s newest addition to their library renovations project and snapped a few pictures so that everyone can get a taste of what’s in store.

“What separates our 21st-century libraries from libraries of the past is that community-gathering element—we have space for customers to hang out and really enjoy the space.”

Said Ben Zenitsky, the library’s media coordinator, as he guided me through book stacks and computer labs, “space for reading, space for loitering. We want people to come and just hang out.”

This is a welcome change of pace from the libraries of old. Instead of the stereotypical staunch disciplinarian in oversized cat framed glasses, you’re met with a smiling librarian, eager to help you set up a gaming console in the teen area. Instead of bland, stifling walls, you now have open windows with sun pouring in, naturally lighting the building.

According to Ben Zenitsky, there was once a practical reason for its confining walls that just doesn’t apply anymore.

“You think of libraries as being vaults for books. Old style, old fashioned. And there was a reason for that.”

“That was because natural sunlight could harm some of the print materials. Nowadays, glass technology has come so far that there is glass that can actually repel that harmful stuff and let in the natural sunlight. It’s transforming libraries from these bunkers to community gathering spaces.”

The glass he had in mind is called low E. glass, or low emissivity glass. It’s a coated glass designed to minimize the amount of ultraviolet and infrared light allowed to pass through. The entire east facing side of the building is lined with the stuff. Not only does it allow customers inside to look out at the cityscape beyond the library’s walls, but passersby can look in and get a glimpse of the goings-on happening inside. “This place is gonna look amazing during the night time,” Ben mused eagerly.

The former branch, built in 1990 was only a 7,700 square foot building. The newly renovated space has well more than doubled that, weighing in at about 25,000 square feet. “When it was built in 1990, this neighborhood here was quite a bit different than it is now. You can see across the street. Highrise apartments are going up, right to the north a huge highrise apartment is already completed. This neighborhood is growing in leaps and bounds and with it comes demand and more people who are interested and in need of library services. We’re meeting that demand with a 21st-century library.”

Some of the additional services people can look forward to the library offering is a homework help center, which provides kindergarten through 12th-grade students with free after school assistance from staff members and volunteers. There’s even a huge area that can be reserved as a meeting space with sectioned off accordian doors made out of dry erase material for presentations.

Downstairs offers a small cafe where patrons can purchase coffee and snacks to enjoy while they peruse the library’s materials. The kid’s area is also designed to be open and inviting,

“You’re not looking at just bindings. You’re looking at covers. We want young customers to be greeted by familiar faces. Dr. Seuss, Elephant and Piggy, Pete the Cat, so on and so forth.”

In each of their new buildings, the goal was to incorporate some inspiring piece of public artwork. At this particular branch is a beautiful suspended piece by Italian artist Loris Cecchini. It adds to the bold, iconic design of the building. From a place where people would just get their materials and leave, to an open and inviting hang out spot, the new Northside Library Branch will be a gorgeous and essential asset to its neighboring community.

 

You can expect the location to open on June 22, with a community celebration and ribbon cutting open to the public. Festivities start at 3:30 p.m. with music, entertainment, and brief remarks from library and city officials. For more information visit columbuslibrary.org

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