By Nick Dekker
Posted On: Dec 23, 2021
The Columbus Metropolitan Library is routinely ranked as one of the best library systems in the country, with a central building plus 22 branches spread across Franklin County that offer welcoming spaces for reading, research, studying, community gathering, and so much more.
The jewel in the library’s crown, so to speak, is the Main Library building on South Grant Street in downtown Columbus. The original building opened in 1907, funded by industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. Built in the Beaux-Arts style using white Vermont marble, the building has been expanded a few times over the 20th and 21st centuries, with a significant renovation taking place over 2015-2016. The updates modernized the building and added new amenities while better preserving and showcasing the original structure.
Like all of the branches, the Main Library features thousands of volumes and welcoming community spaces. The renovations opened up more room for readers and studiers, including private study booths, homework help stations, access to media resources. The large reading room features tall glass walls that look out into the nearby park, while a cafe and gift shop on the main floor offers guests a place to relax and recharge.
The main atrium of the library is bright and welcoming, with three floors overlooking it. On the main floor is an expansive children’s area, with shelf upon shelf of kid’s books, computers, a study area, and plenty of nooks and crannies for reading your favorite stories. There’s even a special lower-height entrance that’s just for kids!
Back in the atrium, the stairway to the second floor features a long mural from the beloved Columbus artist Aminah Robinson. Robinson worked in all sorts of media, and was known for her large-scale pieces employing the African concept of Sankofa, depicting and exploring the past in order to move forward into the future. Take time to really explore Robinson’s eye-catching mural in the library; you can see more of her work at the Columbus Museum of Art a few blocks away.
One of the most popular seasonal attractions at the Main Library is the Huntington Holiday Train. A tradition for more than two decades, the giant display features multiple model trains running through a wintery landscape. Kids of all ages have fun spying all the little hidden details throughout it. The display typically opens in late November (just before Thanksgiving) and runs through the first week in January.
The renovations also designated a space on the second floor of the building as the Carnegie Gallery, which is dedicated to showing the work of Ohio artists. Exhibitions rotate every couple months, and often partner with other Ohio organizations to showcase the artists’ work around a theme.
Finish your visit to the Main Library with a stroll outdoors, too! The recent renovations better connected the rear of the library to the adjoining Topiary Garden park. The park is perfect for a quiet walk, but you can’t miss its most famous feature: a recreation of Georges Seurat’s painting “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte” in topiary form. The unique landscape has earned attention from publications worldwide.