The real impact of new library branches

There’s no mistaking a new branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library.

Driving along Livingston Avenue, you might be taken by surprise by the striking architecture of the new Driving Park branch that looks unlike anything else nearby. Sharp angles, shiny materials, and walls and walls of glass announce that this is a special place.

Driving Park exterior at night

Driving Park exterior at night

Make your way east on Broad Street, and the new Whitehall branch gleams, its long façade of windows shimmering in a field of green. Both are exciting and dynamic buildings that declare their presence, boldly asserting their importance in the neighborhood. They represent the Columbus Metropolitan Library’s commitment to our community, placing the library experience at the heart of community life.

Look inside and you see that these new branches live up to the expectations created by their inspiring designs. Light-filled spaces welcome everyone, with windows providing a clear view of library life inside. A long, open atrium bisects Driving Park, connecting separate areas for teens, children and adult learners. At the entrance to Whitehall, natural materials greet visitors, who then take in the full breadth of the building and the resources it offers.

Both branches feature:

  • Large and inviting children’s areas with engaging reading and interactive play areas, age-appropriate technology, and “Ready for Kindergarten” experiences to support literacy and a love of learning in our youngest library users.
  • Expanded Homework Help Centers for school-aged children.
  • Expanded technology offerings with lots of public computers, as well as touchscreen TVs and iPads
  • Adult learning areas incorporating job assistance and classes from Columbus State Community College
  • Community meeting rooms


Whitehall Children's Area

Children’s area at Whitehall

Driving Park Homework Help Center

Driving Park Homework Help Center

Whitehall Columbus State

Whitehall Columbus State room

Children's area at Driving Park

Children’s area at Driving Park

All of this adds up to a new kind of library where, as CML CEO Pat Losinski likes to say, “connections” are more important than “collections,” as libraries create access to resources in varied and multiple ways, and become places where people come together.

Driving Park and Whitehall are just the beginning of an ambitious effort to build or update 10 CML branches across central Ohio, including the Main Library downtown. Each of the new branch designs reflects the same guiding principles:

  • Transparency: Library collections and resources are not hidden from public view, but are clearly visible from the street; windows and natural light draw people in to share experiences.
  • Iconic design: Bold designs that stand out in our neighborhoods announce that libraries are innovative, forward-thinking and lively community centers.
  • Focus on Young Minds: CML’s commitment to our community’s children is unmistakable in the design of its libraries and allocation of resources.
  • Sustainable and flexible: Branches are constructed using sustainable practices, and buildings are energy efficient, and designed for maximum flexibility as needs change.
  • Outstanding customer experience: From expanded technology options, showcased collections, innovative and collaborative programming and spaces that include a variety of environments, our libraries provide a world-class experience to our community.


The new CML branches are the outcome of a thoughtful and intentional process, a commitment to creating libraries that serve the community as never before.

Driving Park computer area

Driving Park computer area

And it’s working. The impact of the new branches on customer use and engagement is overwhelming, with significant increases in library visits, computer sign-ups, program participation and material circulation, especially for children and school age readers.

At Driving Park—where the size of the collection did not change—juvenile book circulation increased by 200% in the year since the new branch opened. At Whitehall, books selected by young readers while browsing the shelves increased 160%, clear evidence that the expanded and inviting children’s area is getting kids’ attention and keeping them reading. Also striking is the use of Driving Park’s new community meeting rooms, with an increase of 400% in room reservations and 680% in attendance. The library is meeting a clear need in the community, becoming central to the life of this neighborhood. In all these ways, the impact of CML on individuals and our communities is truly transformational, creating opportunities for connecting and learning that change lives.

Everything that CML undertakes, from the grandest plans for new buildings to the simplest interaction with a child at story time, is motivated by a compelling vision: “A thriving community where wisdom prevails.” These new branches, and those that will follow, make this vision a reality. They are evidence, as a recent article in The Atlantic observed, of “how serious [Columbus] is about placing the library front and center in its trajectory toward a modern, relevant, connected city.” There is no greater evidence of the impact and importance of Columbus Metropolitan Library.

For more information about Driving Park, Whitehall and other new branches coming soon, click here or check out the links below.

This Week Community News, “A Library for the Next Generation,” 14 April 2015

The Columbus Dispatch,  “Neighbors warmly welcome new Driving Park library,”  13 July 2015

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