On a chilly overcast morning last week, Columbus officials braved the unseasonably cool air for something that inspired warmer feelings: a new library on Parsons Avenue.

On a chilly overcast morning last week, Columbus officials braved the unseasonably cool air for something that inspired warmer feelings: a new library on Parsons Avenue.

The Columbus Metropolitan Library held a ceremonial ground-breaking June 2 at the new branch, located at 1113 Parsons Ave., a few blocks south of the current facility.

About 250 people attended the ceremony, including elected officials, neighborhood residents and children, who got to shovel a pile of loose dirt.

Patrick Losinski, CEO of the library system, cited community involvement, particularly the efforts of Bob Leighty, as a main driver behind construction of the new 19,000-square-foot library, just east of German Village.

Losinski said Leighty, former president of the Merion Village Association and current executive director of the Parsons Avenue Merchants Association, was persistent in his desire to see an upgraded facility along the corridor.

The library's last levy passed in 2010 by a 2-1 margin, even in the midst of national economic uncertainly.

"What you see today is that investment you made," said Losinski.

Jim Griffin, president of the South Side Area Commission, said libraries are more than a repository of books, they represents the community's social, entertainment and cultural sensibilities, as well as being an educational center.

"The new Parsons Avenue Branch will be a major part of this South Columbus revitalization," Griffin said.

In November 2013, library officials closed on the purchase of seven parcels totaling 1.5 acres along Parsons, at a cost of $11.5 million.

They consisted of six commercial properties -- five of which are vacant -- and one vacant apartment building, between Deshler and Stewart avenues.

Library officials say the new branch is needed because the current library, the smallest in the system at 7,600 square feet, simply has outgrown its capacity.

For example, it has 20 parking spaces, compared to the new library, which will have 64 spaces.

Built in 1956, the Parsons Avenue library will stay open throughout the duration of construction, which should wrap up next year. At some point, both will be closed as books are moved and staff members reassigned to the new branch.

When the transition is complete, the original branch, 845 Parsons Ave., will be up for sale, said Ben Zenitsky, library system spokesman.