The New Main Library

I am a sucker for old, beautiful buildings, so the 1907 main library has always been a favorite of mine. I had only taken the kids once before it closed for a massive $35 million renovation last year. And yesterday, we made the trip downtown to Grant Avenue for our first look at the children's area.


At 10:30, it was an easy drive down 71 to Broad Street. I would recommend taking a few extra minutes to find a metered spot rather than using the attached parking garage. You'll be fine in the garage, it is just typically crowded and it's just my preference to be parked outside. Bring your parking ticket inside for payment. 

On the way to the atrium, the old architecture caught Larkyn's eye and she wanted to see the "bride" staircase. So much of the building is left intact on this part of the building. Entering the new atrium is quite a moment. It is simply so big that you can't fit it all into your frame. You just have to see it for yourself!



To the left, friendly staffers welcomed Larkyn to get her first CML card. The process is simple (you just need your ID).


And then we were off to see what the jewel of the atrium, the Aminah Robinson staircase. I know Aminah's work through my many visits to the Museum of Art with my students. She was a beloved Columbus native, best known for her large, colorful pieces representing her upbringing in Columbus.



At this point, Larkyn was bursting at the seams to get to the Children's area, which is just on the other side of the staircase.



There was a baby story time going on in the large, open circle area. No more closed-off, crowded story time room!  I noticed that the (brand new and shiny) furniture was flexible and could be rearranged to fit guests.


Staff members welcomed us and asked us if we needed help. They were happy to provide calendars and proud to tell me a little bit about each area. We were most interested in the "Get Ready for Kindergarten" area. As a kindergarten teacher with an upcoming kindergarten daughter, I was intrigued.


Kindergarten readiness is crucial to student success, and the CML has put emphasis on early intervention to equip parents with ideas for letter identification, phonemic awareness (letter-sound link), and enjoying text at an early age. Read about their Kindergarten Readiness programs here. There were letter games on the tables, which all the children were enjoying, and the area is designated by the giant school bus, getting kids acclimated to the idea of riding the bus in kindergarten!  Kelly, a librarian in the this area, said that all the (beautiful and new!) books in this area were selected as the best books for kindergartners. She also told me about the Reading Buddies program, which sounds amazing!





My favorite new strategy was the shelving of the board books. The books are shelved in wooden bins, with the covers facing out (instead of the spines). This makes it so much easier for children to select their books! They are nice and low, making it evident that the kids are welcome to look through them.  Book selection is key to engagement, and I think CML nailed it with these carts.



Brand new books are showcased on the shelf around the first circle time area, and fish-related books around the smaller circle time area. Why? Because of the sparkling new fish tank.



Ipads loaded with letter and phonics games are available at a table. I am not quite sure of the holes in the tables, but I am sure there is a reasoning, and the kids loved crawling underneath. Because any time crawling under tables is sanctioned, they're into it.


Bright, tall windows looked out to the street, and many families set up on the fun, wavy seating to read together.





I would love the addition of a gate, as I would in most places. For toddler sprinters who take off, it would be nice to know that they are contained in the children's area. But just in case, there are guards stationed at the doors to the outside who will make sure your Olympic trials come to an end at the door.

After our visit to the children's area, which was buzzing with excited visitors and staffers, I of course wanted to track down some coffee. On the way, we found a Friends of the Library gift shop and a touchscreen that shows the history of the building.





And then, the angels sang and Carnegie's Cafe appeared. After all the chasing, I needed some iced coffee! Carnegie serves a menu of Crimson Cup coffee and baked goods. And why the name Carnegie?  I just learned that he built 105 libraries in Ohio. 105!  While you wait for or enjoy your coffee, there is a bar-height table with iPads and a huge seating area indoors and outdoors. Because it was approximately 900 degrees outside, we sadly missed playing at the topiary garden, which is right outside these doors.





Last but not least, I had to get a photo of the outside. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when I was trying to figure out how to get there. Of course, I was given directions. But, with the stroller, that complicated things. Long story short, one elevator has a BACK DOOR that will open to the street level. If you have a stroller, get in this elevator and you'll be fine.



The outside is just as gorgeous as ever, with it's columns, fountain, and several benches. This building is so special, and I hope these tips help you plan a visit very soon!

1 comment:

Nana said...

What a beautiful post! I can't wait to see it in person. Lucky for me to work a couple blocks away and can visit after work easily.

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