The Worthington Park Library opened a new chapter last week.

The Worthington Park Library opened a new chapter last week.

Local leaders and library patrons officially opened the expanded branch of the Worthington Libraries on Jan. 10, welcoming the additional space in the heavily used storefront library at 1389 Worthington Centre Drive.

"We're really pleased with the way it came out," libraries director Chuck Gibson said as he wandered through the bustling facility.

The branch opened in 2008 in 5,280 square feet of store space at a strip center on Worthington-Galena Road. The Worthington Libraries had been trying to open a branch in the northeast section of the school district for more than a decade because of the outcry for services in those neighborhoods.

The facility was not large enough to circulate audio-visual items but was able to open the library system's first homework help center.

Last year, 2,000 students received assistance at the help center, which is staffed with librarians and volunteers and has available computers and reference materials. It became so successful that the idea has been copied in the library system's other two libraries.

When the store next to the Worthington Park Library became available, the board of trustees jumped at the opportunity to expand by 3,400 square feet, enlarging the library by 64 percent and providing space for an audio-visual collection, a larger children's area, a meeting room and a larger and improved homework help center.

The center occupies the east end of the library. When it gets noisy, garage-style glass doors could be lowered to separate it from the rest of the library.

The final cost of the expansion was $526,000.

The Worthington Park Library was a compromise when it opened five years ago.

Residents had been requesting a northeast library for a decade. The library board had purchased land along Sancus Boulevard, next to the Lazelle Woods Recreation Center, and plans were drawn.

Because of financial shortfalls, the Sancus Boulevard branch wasn't built.

"We were ready to go; we pulled the plug twice at the last minute," Gibson said last week.

One of the leading advocates for the new library was Lisa Thurber, who since has moved from the area but who attended the expansion last week to celebrate what she views as a good move for the Worthington Libraries.

"I'm here to thank all of the people who helped make this happen," she said. "You can tell by the number of kids using it that it was needed."