Construction of a new Karl Road branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library system is scheduled to start in early 2020.

Library officials said they are beginning the second phase of an aspirational building program, which includes new branches at Karl Road, Reynoldsburg and Gahanna, and renovation and expansion of the Hilltop branch.

Plans call for the Karl Road branch to double in size to 40,000 square feet, have a second floor, more windows and be reoriented on the current site at 5590 Karl Road.

"The idea being we want to provide more transparency for commuters or passersby to feel welcome at the building and see the activity taking place inside," said Ben Zenitsky, library system spokesman.

Construction of the $21 million facility will take about a year. It is scheduled to be open by summer 2021

Zenitsky said the branch would have more community gathering and meeting space, seating, parking and computers. A larger children's area and homework help center will be built, as well, he said.

"It will be more flexibly designed to serve the Northland community well into the future," he said.

"Word is spreading quickly," said Keith Hanson, manager of the Karl Road branch. "Our adult customers are very excited to hear about the larger space, more seating and more meeting and study rooms that will be available.

"And, of course, our younger customers' eyes light up when we tell them there will be a much larger children's area for them to explore," Hanson said.

The Karl Road branch was built in 1988.

"It is one of our oldest branches, and it has certainly been outgrown by the community," Zenitsky said. "It is among our busiest locations, particularly in our after-school hours."

Library officials have not disclosed where patrons would be redirected during construction, but Zenitsky said an announcement would be made soon.

gseman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekGary