The Library Bar

Columbus, Ohio

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

Tricking parents for nearly 50 years, the Library Bar remains an untouched dive bar beacon of Ohio State’s north campus area, a graffiti-laden, all-wood interior that provides the perfect canvas for a little casual college graffiti.

Field Rating

8

out of 10

Tell your parents where you’re going. Or bring them. They’ll appreciate it.

Field Note

If The Library Bar was located on the surface of the sun, on a particularly robust day of bright, blinding sun flares, it would still be pitch black inside this bar. Beyond The Library’s obvious value as a campus pun, this is a campus dive in every sense of the term. And that’s a rare treasure at Ohio State where the main campus area, High Street in particular, has been aggressively and destructively transformed over the past two decades.

Gone are some of the classic north campus bars like Bernie’s in favor of chain retail, chain fast casual and chain everything else. But The Library remains, just far enough north to escape the clutches of gentrification, so far. Open since 1971, the history of the bar stretches back long enough to a different legal environment where students 18 to 20 were allowed in to drink lower alcohol beers. Though the bar recently changed hands, the commitment to the dive bar aesthetic remains intact.

...a feeling very much replicated inside by the kind of environment that makes drinking there feel like drinking in the hull of an ancient, tiny ship.

Outside, a bright orange sign beckons that somehow depicts the word ‘Library’ as sophisticatedly drunk. A fresh coat of paint covers the first sign that the theme of this bar isn’t books. It’s wood. The windowed walls of surrounding business give way to Library’s tiny window and wooden paneling, a feeling very much replicated inside by the kind of environment that makes drinking there feel like drinking in the hull of an ancient, tiny ship.

Wooden seating is carved into seemingly every available square foot, the perfect canvas for decades worth of etched graffiti from college students past and present. Each wooden booth is accompanied by a stationary wooden table, in a space dotted with wooden columns to really drive home the feeling. The sheer amount of wood in the place seems to soak up the conversation just as it has soaked up gallons of spilled Bud Light over the years, creating a feeling that can only be described as cozy.

Wooden beams even run above the space, below the ceiling, anchoring each piece of the layout both visually and structurally to the wood that dominates the bar.

Using that particular adjective might project too fuzzy a feeling of the space, but it really is the perfect descriptor for the combination of layout, material and amenities. Wooden beams even run above the space, below the ceiling, anchoring each piece of the layout both visually and structurally to the wood that dominates the bar. The amenities include campus staples like darts, pool and even pinball, there’s a mug night to take part in and the bar runs karaoke every week. There isn’t much left to want.

The storefronts have rotated heavily in this stretch of High Street, sandwich shops and pizza places now taking up remodeled residence nearby, but while there are surface improvements to the Library’s space, the heart remains the college dive this bar has worked hard to become. And let me tell you, if you’re a fan of cedar, you may never leave.

Photos

The Basics

2169 N High St
Columbus, OH 43201

Classification:
College Dive

Connect

  
 

Related Reviews

Out-R-Inn

Columbus, Ohio
Wood plank paradise.

The Thirsty Scholar

Columbus, Ohio
Awkward basement eye contact.

Bob's Bar

Columbus, Ohio
The cultural hub of the Midwest.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This