The New Parsons Branch

It was a big day today in the German Village/Schumacher Place/near East Side part of Columbus.  The new Parsons branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library opened.

The old Parsons branch was the smallest branch in the excellent Columbus system.  It was really more like a high school or junior high library than a public library branch, but it was the only library within walking distance when the Main Library closed for renovations, and Kish and I visited and used it extensively.  Then the old Parsons branch shut down, leaving us without a nearby library for an uncomfortable period of time for us regular library users, before the new branch opened a few blocks directly south of the old location.

IMG_1146The new branch is a big improvement — literally.  It’s much larger, inside and out, and my brief bit of perusing during our visit indicates that its collection is more extensive than that at the old branch, too.  That’s a welcome change indeed, because I like browsing and grabbing a book that strikes my fancy at the time, and I had just about worked through all of the selections in my preferred literary genres in the standing collection at the old branch.  With the additional book options available at the new location, I’ll be kept busy for a while.

I’m not sure that we’re going to keep using the Parsons Branch, however, when the Main Library renovations are done and Main reopens to the public in a few weeks.  With the shift of Parsons to the south, it’s almost certainly farther away from us than the Main Library.  When you add that fact to the far more extensive standing collection at Main, I suspect that my choice when I’m in the mood for some browsing will be to cross over the freeway and head to Main.

The new Parsons branch will be interesting to keep an eye on for another reason.  It’s part of the ongoing effort to improve Parsons Avenue, and with the move south it’s an attempt to nudge the redevelopment wave a few blocks farther away from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital zone.  The new neighborhood for the branch has a decidedly more gritty feel, but that may change as the new library and some other redevelopment efforts in the area come on line.  I’m sure that civic leaders are hoping that a new library can help the area feel more like a neighborhood and less like an urban renewal project.  Today, at least, the branch was jammed on its opening day.  It would be a good sign if that continues.

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From Main To Parsons

A few days I got an email advising that the Main Library is going to be closing during its renovation after all.  So, I’ll need to bid farewell to the Main building, with its great historic features and interesting artwork, and find a new library branch.

IMG_4669The plan was to keep the original Main library building open while work proceeded on the newer building, but the email from the Columbus Metropolitan Library said that for “budget, safety, and scheduling reasons,” they will need to close the Main Library entirely effective April 13. According to a local TV station, library officials cited lower than expected usage since the partial closure and the cost of keeping the older building open during the construction project.  In my recent visits, I’ve noticed an apparent drop-off in patrons.

So, I need to find a new branch, and although the Main Library closure won’t take effect until April 13, there’s no time like the present.  The Columbus Metropolitan Library website has a helpful locations page that shows that the next nearest branch to us is on Parsons Avenue, to the east and south but well within walking distance — so that’s what I’ll start using.  Unfortunately, the information for the Parsons branch indicates that it is closed on Sunday, which is pretty inconvenient for us working stiffs who reserve Saturday for chores around the house and think Sunday is a great day for a library visit.  We’ll just have to adjust our thinking, and our schedules, until the Main Library comes back on-line.

One other thing about the closure of Main — it means I’ll be seeing a part of Columbus I really haven’t seen before.  I don’t think I’ve ever been on Parsons Avenue south of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, and given the explosion of building in the Children’s Hospital area it will be interesting to see if the construction projects are changing the neighborhood where the Parsons branch is located.  If only it were open on Sunday!