After years of planning, and under bright skies and high expectations, the new Dublin branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library opened Thursday, June 6, to a crush of eager visitors.
Just two years ago, the Dublin City Council and residents had mixed opinions about the proposed design, a blend of slate-colored brick and gleaming glass panels.
Some called it too modern, too glassy and contrary to the historic district’s character.
At one point, after months of wrangling over complex legal negotiations related to property and a parking garage, Columbus Metropolitan Library officials even considered postponing construction if designs weren’t approved.
But on this day, just positive energy filled the small plaza out front of the more than $21 million facility.
“It’s awesome,” said Mary Jo Early, a Dublin resident and one-time critic of the design.
“The library in any community is a gem, regardless of how it looks,” she said. “What other building in the city can you say that about?”
The branch doubled in size to 41,000 square feet — becoming the second largest behind the Main Library Downtown — and it was the most expensive of the 10 libraries rebuilt or renovated in Phase 1 of a capital improvements plan funded by more than $130 million in bonds and private fundraising. Four other branches are being planned for Phase 2: Gahanna, Hilltop, Karl Road and Reynoldsburg.
Tom Holton, president of the Dublin Historical Society, said the new building will help define the city for generations.
“The community will love this library. Whatever controversy there was, we’re setting it behind us. ... It’s now a part of who we are.”
An architectural brick wall on the property’s southeastern corner stands in the exact spot where the former Washington Township school building stood. Openings in the brick mirror the style of the school.
Inside, chevron-shaped windows line both sides of the second floor, creating a sense of something special, perhaps a cruise ship.
Hundreds lined up outside a room to get new library cards with a picture of the building on the front.
A second-story view overlooking the Scioto River, Bridge Park and the historic district drew the most visitors with many taking selfies. A nearby pedestrian bridge over the river is to be complete by year’s end.
“This is spectacular,” said Kathy Ostrowski, who had brought Murphy, her Bernese Mountain Dog, to meet visitors. “That we still think a space like this is viable is good for the community.”