New Parsons library branch will open today

Looking out the windows at the new Parsons Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library is like catching a glimpse of an earlier age. Today, the library is opening directly across the street from its original 1928 home.

The $9.8 million library opens on the South Side nearly a year to the day after officials broke ground, library spokesman Ben Zenitsky said.

The new building is nearly three times the size of the most recent Parsons branch, located just down the street. The old building housed the collection for about 60 years.

When branch manager Anne Heidrich learned about the new building several years ago, she had one reaction: “It’s time.”

“We have so much space for people where we used to struggle with so many customers but nowhere for them to go,” she said. “It’s a good problem. We have to decide what we’re going to do with all this space.”

The new library features an open-floor design flooded by natural light — something unusual for a library, Zenitsky said.

“Originally, libraries were all about preserving the collections, so there wasn’t a lot of windows and natural light because UV rays are harmful to the print that is here.” he said. “We have, now, new, high-tech windows called low e-glass that lets in the light but filters out the harmful rays.”

The library also features a dedicated kindergarten area with study rooms that can be reserved and even a drive-through window to pick up books.

“Members can use the window similar to a drive-through at McDonald’s,” Zenitsky said, adding that card holders only have to reserve the books ahead of time.

Heidrich said she hopes the library will serve as a community center.

“I hope that customers will just see it as, ‘This is our community. This is our library. This is an investment in our neighborhood,’ ” she said. “We have a lot of new neighbors, and I hope they come in and visit us.”

Ed Bushman, who owns Bushman’s Market next to the library, said he is excited to see the branch finally open. “I think it’ll bring more business to the neighborhood,” he said.

Heidrich said she hopes to see a lot of new faces at the grand opening of the library, today.

“I don’t think people quite grasp what they have here now,” Heidrich said. “ I think a lot of people are picturing big stacks of books … I think people are going to be so happy and surprised with what we have here for them.”

The old building will be put up for sale, Zenitsky said.

The ribbon cutting of the new location, 1113 Parson Ave., will begin at noon; the library opens to the public at 12:30 p.m.

ebohatch@dispatch.com

@emilybohatch

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