The transformation is about to be unveiled.

The transformation is about to be unveiled.

The public is invited to participate in the grand opening of the Columbus Metropolitan Library's new Northern Lights Branch, at 4093 Cleveland Ave., on Saturday, Sept. 24. A brief outdoor ceremony with a ribbon-cutting is planned for noon, with activities and entertainment scheduled to continue through 3 p.m.

Speaking at the Sept. 5 meeting of the Northland Community Council, branch Manager Rick Catrone said the $10.3 million expansion project represents a change in status. The work, which began after the building was closed in April and library operations were moved to a temporary operation inside the former Brookhaven High School, means Northern Lights goes from being a community branch to a regional one, Catrone said.

"It's going to be a great gift to the community," he said.

On a tour of the new building last week, a spokesman for the library said at least for a while, the Northern Lights Branch, at 26,100 square feet, will be the largest in the system. Eventually, new Dublin and Hilliard branches will greatly surpass it in size, according to marketing and communication specialist Ben Zenitsky.

The original Northern Lights Library, which was built in 1993, was 11,881 square feet.

"It has more than doubled in size," Zenitsky said of the new space. "It was over-utilized and undersized. Structurally, it was taken down pretty bare bone.

"It's a complete transformation."

The larger space will allow for the addition of a kindergarten-readiness area, the first of which was a pilot project at the Karl Road Branch. The Homework Help Center at the Northern Lights Library has also been greatly expanded, Zenitsky said.

The building has a teen area, public computers and small study rooms patrons may reserve, he said. Another "quiet study room" is walled off from the main floor of the building by an aquarium.

"We're looking for more than a space to house books," Zenitsky said. "We're looking for a space to house people who love books."

The new branch has three small meeting rooms which can be merged into one for community groups. There will even be a kitchenette available for use by these organizations.

Something new to the libraries undergoing renovation or replacement that will be in place at the Northern Lights Branch is a drive-up window, which enables patrons to pick up reserves and drop off materials without getting out of their cars, Zenitsky said.

kparks@thisweeknews.com

@KevinParksTW1