Visit the main library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library

By Nick Dekker

Posted on: December 23, 2021

the Metropolitan Library of Columbus is consistently ranked as one of the nation’s top library systems, with a central building and 22 branches across Franklin County that provide welcoming spaces for reading, research, study, community gatherings, and more .

The library’s crown jewel, 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 with white Vermont marble, the building was extended several times during the 20th and 21st centuries, with a major renovation in 2015-2016. Updates have modernized the building and added new amenities while preserving and better showcasing the original structure.

Like all branches, the Main Library has thousands of volumes and welcoming community spaces. The renovations have opened up more space for readers and students, including private study booths, homework assistance stations, access to media resources. The Large Reading Room features high glass walls that overlook the nearby park, while a cafe and gift shop on the ground floor provide guests with a place to relax and rejuvenate.

Inside the atrium of the main library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library in Ohio

The main library atrium is bright and welcoming, with three floors above it. On the ground floor is a large children’s area, complete with shelving unit of children’s books, computers, study area and plenty of nooks and crannies to read your favorite stories. There is even a special lower entrance which is just for the kids!

Columbus artist Aminah Robinson's long mural on the stairs of the main library of the Metropolitan Library of Columbus in Ohio

Back in the atrium, the staircase to the second floor features a long mural by beloved Columbus artist Aminah Robinson. Robinson worked in all kinds of media and was known for her large-scale plays using the African concept of Sankofa, describing and exploring the past in order to move forward into the future. Take the time to really explore Robinson’s eye-catching mural in the library; you can see more of his work at Columbus Art Museum a few blocks away.

One of the main library’s most popular seasonal attractions is the Huntington Holiday Train. A tradition for more than two decades, the giant display features several model trains crossing a wintry landscape. Children of all ages have fun spying on all the little hidden details. The exhibit usually opens in late November (just before Thanksgiving) and takes place during the first week of January.

Entrance to the Carnegie Gallery of the Main Library of the Metropolitan Library of Columbus in Ohio

The renovations also designated a space on the second floor of the building as Carnegie Gallery, which is dedicated to showing the work of Ohio artists. Exhibits rotate every two months and often partner with other organizations in Ohio to showcase the artists’ work around a theme.

Topiary park behind the main library of the Metropolitan Library of Columbus in Ohio

Also end your visit to the main library with a stroll outside! Recent renovations have better connected the rear of the library with the adjoining topiary garden park. The park is perfect for a leisurely stroll, 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 captured the attention of publications around the world.

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