The Columbus Metropolitan Library branch on Karl Road is in line for a major upgrade.
The announcement could not be more welcome, said Alicia Ward, Northland Community Council president.
“I was really excited to hear that they’re going to build a new facility for the Karl Road branch,” she said. “They’ve got so much packed into that little space.”
“It’s the oldest of all the branches in our fleet,” said Patrick A. Losinski, Columbus Metropolitan Library CEO.
The 20,000-square-foot building at 5590 Karl Road opened in 1988, according to Ben Zenitsky, the library’s marketing and communications specialist.
“As a building, it’s sort of overwhelmed, particularly during the school year with our Homework Help Center and Reading Buddies,” Losinski said. “It just lacks the amenities of the buildings we’ve been addressing, such as expanded quiet study areas, multiple rooms for individual, two-person and group study.”
The library system’s board of trustees authorized four additional building projects June 28.
In addition to a new building on the site of the existing Karl Road branch, the other projects are:
• Renovation and expansion of the Hilltop branch
• Renovation or rebuild of the Reynoldsburg branch
• Renovation, rebuild or relocation of the Gahanna branch
“These four projects represent phase 2 of (Columbus Metropolitan Library’s) 2020 Vision Plan, which was developed in 2009 to address and prioritize the needs of its aging locations and the evolving community demands upon them,” according to the announcement of the board’s decision.
The initial phase involved renovation or replacement of 10 of the system’s 23 locations, including the Main Library downtown. Eight of the projects are complete. A new Martin Luther King branch at 1600 E. Long St., Columbus, is scheduled to open later this year and the new Dublin branch is scheduled to open in 2019.
“The success of phase 1 has prompted library leaders to look ahead to additional building and community needs throughout the CML service area,” the announcement said. “The four buildings were identified due to their age and/or the growing needs of the communities they serve.”
It has not yet been determined if the Karl Road branch will remain open during the construction of a new building, Losinski said.
“We’re still early on in that process,” he said. “If everything goes right, we’d like to kick off the design process by year’s end. What we have found in the past is generally, it’s about a year to design, price, bid and get ready, and a year to build.”
Losinski said he anticipates the new branch would be about 40,000 square feet, with construction coming in 2020 and the building opening in early 2021.
“Those are rough time frames,” he said.
“That location is so key,” Ward said. “There’s always something happening there, some class or something that they’re doing for people. They do have a very busy facility there, and it’s amazing how much they can get done in that space.”