It wasn't the taco bar, yummy as it was that has me waxing ecstatic over the newly renovated downtown branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
Andrew Carnegie's 1907 limestone beclad vision has served this city well for nearly 110 ten years.
Now we have what is called a library for the 21st century.
Phooey. I imagined this new library would have everything but books. To me, a library has miles of eight foot shelving crammed with books. To me, a library has dust and must. To me, a library is quiet and dark. If you want light you can screw in a bulb somewhere.
And children do not belong in a library.
So I figured the new renovations would have natural light, lots of space and no books. Some computers maybe from which you can extract sticks after you've inserted them (don't start) called Pile drive or whatever the hell. No book shelves-since there are no books-and if you want to hear Maria Callas' 1959 recording of Lucia di Lammermoor you can get it from Amazon.
Pretty views, though.
Well, having just returned from the press briefing of the newly-renovated Columbus Library for the 21st century, I am here to tell you I was right. The building is flooded with natural light, thanks to magnificent windows opening onto a topiary park. In fact, there's a direct light filled line from the Grant Avenue entrance all the way to the back of the building-seedy fiction back in the day-where you walk out onto a plaza leading to nothing but gorgeous greenery. There's a full view of the magnificent Cristo Rey High School next door. There are wide open spaces actually called a reading room, as in people-come-here-to-read. There's an expanded atrium, three stories, light flooded. If you need a dark world, go kiss a vampire.
You know what else there are? Books! MILES of books in chest high shelving so you can look up and see, what? The fabulous light and miles of more books. There are computer terminals. The teen room is commodious and complete with a gaming area, as in make your own X-box version, as in use your imagination! There are homework help areas, light and state of the art equipped. Plus more books. There are DVDS, CDs, computer ports and more light. The children's area has more than one reading circle and will have any three year old falling in love with words.
You want quiet? One staff member mentioned, "We get a little more serious as you go upstairs." The reading area is perfect for study, or for events. The second floor is dedicated to teens, plus books for all. (Can you tell I obsess over books?) The first floor will make you wish you were a five year old, and welcome you even if you aren't.
What we have here, friends and neighbors, is a library for the 21st century and beyond where a dinosaur like me can feel at home while encouraging the five year old, or fifteen year old, in all of us to feel at home. The new building opens to the public this Saturday. The Columbus Library has always been a treasure house. Now, its a treasure house where you can see the treasure, and BE the treasure.
P.S. The audio visual area does indeed have Maria Callas in Lucia di Lammermoor, thank you very much. With a library like this, who needs Amazon?