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Library Darts and Laurels

More than two years ago, the District, in its infinite wisdom, shut down four neighborhood libraries. The libraries had been neglected and looked shabby, but they had books and computers and valuable resources for kids and adults. But the city said they had to go because spanking new branch libraries were all ready to be built for those four communities--Anacostia, Shaw, Benning Road and Tenleytown.

Of course, the new libraries were never built. Their designs were never even approved. And the neighborhoods have gone without any libraries. The old buildings sit padlocked or surrounded by chain link fence, monuments to colossal failure on the part of the city.

Now, there are signs of both progress and further dysfunction in the District's troubled library system. In Tenleytown, the one neighborhood among the four that has the least urgent need for a library (seeing as how it is by far the most affluent of the four areas, and is sandwiched between decent libraries in Cleveland Park and Chevy Chase), the city has opened an interim library. It's a small storefront, but the inside is brightly lighted, comfortable and reasonably well-attended. There aren't exactly a whole lot of what we used to call "books" in this interim library, and on my most recent visit Saturday, ten of the 25 computer terminals were blocked off with signs declaring them to be ailing or otherwise unavailable, but it's something.

And that's a whole lot more than the other neighborhoods have, which would be...nothing. The Anacostia interim branch, which library director Ginnie Cooper had promised would be open by the end of 2006, isn't. But it's at least nearing completion. The other two interim branches are not yet close enough even to have an opening date.

If the new interim library is any sign of what D.C.'s new libraries will eventually look like, I'm not sure it's worth the wait. This facility is very heavy on pop culture--lots of new Hollywood movies on DVD, with barely a single classic film in the bunch. A heavy concentration on bestsellers and pulp fiction, again with awfully few of the classics that you'd turn to a library for. The reference section is very sparse (a single World Book encyclopedia, a few basic business references, not a whole lot more.) The periodicals section has a sign saying that the newspapers and magazines are on order but haven't started coming in yet. The children's nook is pleasant and inviting, but the three parents on hand Saturday afternoon were complaining about how few chapter books are stocked. The emphasis instead is on computers, certainly an essential service for libraries these days, but not the end-all and be-all. The library's own press material on the interim branch boasts of "a retail look and feel," as if that were a good thing; I guess the D.C. library has given up on the bookish, quiet, lush sensibility--the warm, welcoming atmosphere found at its own classic branch buildings in Petworth, Georgetown, or Takoma--that has stood libraries in such good stead for hundreds of years.

Circulation in the D.C. system was pathetic and sinking even before this wholesale dumbing-down of the collection. From 2002 to 2005, according to the system's own reports, circulation dropped eight percent systemwide and a stunning 32 percent at the central library downtown. Compared to other systems around the country, according to the American Library Association, the District's circulation rate of 1.9 items per capita per year is shockingly below the U.S. average of nine items per person.

Mayor Adrian Fenty's 100-Day Plan promises that by the end of March, he will "announce the locations of the four storefront libraries and expedite procurement of construction for the four permanent neighborhood libraries." We're almost midway toward that deadline, with no apparent progress.

And far from making any move toward going ahead with the new central library that was one of Anthony Williams' last big projects as mayor, the new leadership of the city seems cool to that concept. And the new boss of the library system seems downright uninterested in the idea that gummed up progress on replacing the four shuttered neighborhood branches--whether to fund those new projects by partnering with developers on mixed-use retail/residential projects on the new library sites.

At a recent community meeting in Cleveland Park, libraries director Cooper said the system might go along with such mixed-use plans, but would not lead the way in that direction. The vision for a revived branch library system that would be intimately connected with the communities it serves is dying fast: In Marshall Heights, the community development corporation that proposed to build affordable housing over the new Benning branch library building now under design has caved in to pressure from some anti-development residents and withdrawn its plan. "It appears that the community is not in support of this project, therefore, we are going to keep our word and bend to the will of the community," project manager Kahlil Gross said in a letter to residents.

That kind of setback is becoming routine for library director Cooper. According to an account by Ed Cowan, a former New York Times correspondent who now writes a neighborhood newsletter on city affairs, Cooper told the audience that she has "learned a lot" in her first months on the job, including the fact that "just about every system in the library, and in the city, is designed to make it hard to make change." Among the obstacles, she said, are the structures governing library procurement, finances and personnel.

Cooper has achieved Sunday opening hours for the libraries, an excellent move. And she's intent on making the downtown Martin Luther King building more attractive, even if it is doomed as a central library. Watch for a Starbucks-style coffee facility to open there, along with other improvements.

But the city remains at sea over the future, purpose and function of its libraries, and as that struggle continues, the District's readers--and more important, its non-readers--suffer the consequences.

By Marc Fisher |  February 12, 2007; 7:37 AM ET
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Comments

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Our libraries have declined so far that there is little use paying for them anyway. Afterall, you can go to Barnes and Noble or Borders if you want the latest best-sellers and the chairs are more comfortable.

Posted by: Chris | February 12, 2007 8:34 AM

DC used to have great libaries. My parents took us to DC libaries rather the PG County ones in mid 60's since PG were awful. Libaries illustrate another reason why DC should not have home rule!

Posted by: vaherder | February 12, 2007 8:55 AM

Give Fenty a bit of a break. First let's get the school system at least pointed in the right direction.

Posted by: Claudius | February 12, 2007 9:10 AM

I would rather see a mixed-use development with the Tenley site.

Why not move the teacher parking from Janney School into this new facility, move the Janney field to where the teacher park (which was a field in the first place) and then create a space that generates community/library/school use?

It could be so much better, if DCPL, DCPS and the community can create dialogue.

Posted by: Tenley Person | February 12, 2007 9:34 AM

I visited the Georgetown branch on Saturday for the first time. It was clearly at one time an impressive library; now the bookshelves are half-empty and the heat was turned off. It doesn't exactly encourage you to dawdle over your book.

Posted by: tamerlane | February 12, 2007 9:55 AM

Everyone seems to think it is a great idea to give the Iraqi government benchmarks to live up to **or else,** and they have only been in power for MONTHS, not decades like DC. How about putting a similar timer on DC home rule?

Posted by: gitarre | February 12, 2007 9:58 AM

Libraries in DC are a reflection of how the PTB value education and children. Why should libraries, which tend to always get short shrift anyway do better than the public schools?

And Ginny Cooper did not leave her job in good standing from Hawaii so I have my doubts of her capabilities as a leader and administrator.

Posted by: Librarian (but not in DC) | February 12, 2007 9:59 AM

Gitarre- where do you live?

Posted by: Bethesdan | February 12, 2007 10:19 AM

Neighborhood public neighborhood libraries do not have hundreds of years of history, they're a post-World War I phenomenon. Cities had major libraries that were often started off the back of one generous individual. Enoch Pratt, Samuel Tilden, Benjamin Franklin, Horace Mann all built early libraries. Andrew Carnegie came in later, ripping off the working class he refused to pay so he had money to fund his volunteer projects.

Montgomery County libraries, for instance, were membership book co-ops at least until the 1930s or even WW2. I think these were called Social Libraries in the standard of Ben Franklin. My parents always said that when they saw the Nazis burning books their communities started building libraries from scratch as a sort of anti-Nazi campaign.

Public libraries have a limited shelf-life. When I was a library employee in the 1980s we'd see 200-300 people come in on a Saturday, they'd often come in, make a photocopy of a newspaper or magazine article, then leave. They'd review information in encyclopedias. They'd check out books for their kids. No one but the homeless would spend any time sitting and reading in a public library (Marc, were you thinking of your college years or a movie?)

I was in the Cleveland Park library last week and there were several families getting books out, but the adults who were meandering through the stacks were kind of strange looking. You know, old turtlenecks, ill-fitting jeans, bad haircuts.

I love the Cleveland Park library so I can get 10-20 books per week for my kids. It's critical for their education.

However, the internet now allows people to get better quality magazine articles cheaper than a drive and a photocopy. I can do more and better research online than I can in a public library.

I can buy books on ebay and get them delivered to me for usually about $5 for popular fiction.

The time has come for the refocusing of public libraries. The major problem as I see it is that libraries have little budget wiggle room for new ideas, while the IPO-funded web has all the money in the world to move forward. Libraries must be willing to implement new ideas in a 4 to 6 week timeframe. If they can't they will go away.

In my opinion, the best library system in the area is Arlington County. Much better than DC, MoCo, PG, Fairfax, etc. I can reserve a book and a robot will call my cellphone when it's arrived for me to pick up. Tremendous!

Posted by: Bethesdan | February 12, 2007 10:35 AM

Fairfax County has a great reserve system. You can either get a phone call or an email when your book is in. I love it!

Posted by: To Bethesdan | February 12, 2007 11:07 AM


After six months on the job, it sounds like Ms. Cooper is learning that in D.C. it's "hard to make change." But that's exactly why she's here and paid so handsomely.

D.C. doesn't need to hear the same old excuses. She got rid of most of her Library administrators when she walked in the door, so that none of their bureaucratic complacency would stand in her way of making change.

No one now wants to hear that it's "hard" work. Library science isn't rocket science after all. D.C. simply needs quality collections with a commitment to customer service in safe and comfortable buildings.

Come to think of it, Ms. Cooper does have her work cut out for her.

Posted by: DC Awaits | February 12, 2007 11:25 AM

The modular libraries proposed as temporary fixes (one is supposedly set to arrive in Shaw sometime soon) are a huge waste of resources given this library system's lack of vision at about $750,000 per library. Store front libraries are DEFINITELY the more community-conscious way to go. I sincerely hope Fenty's 100 day plan involves revisiting the idea to place modular libraries around town.

Posted by: Shaw Rez | February 12, 2007 11:28 AM

Glad Marc is showing some love for the Takoma branch, which he has been critical of in the past.

I have noticed that the children's collection at the Takoma branch has, over the last couple of years, been substantially upgraded. Many, many new titles on all kinds of topics. The shelves are packed with informative, up-to-date books in new or at least good condition. I assumed the entire system had gotten some funding to expand and update collections; perhaps I am wrong.

I think libraries still serve a valuable function in our society and our city. I notice the librarians at Takoma helping young people with research and homework. It is certainly a supplement to their education. On Saturdays, I notice many people of a wide range of ages and all walks of life sitting and reading, or working on laptops (the libe is a wifi site). My son checks out 20-30 books per week; I could never afford to get all those at Borders or Amazon. I would hope the new or interim branches would be opened in the remaining three communities asap.

By the way, with a DC PL card you can get online access, reserve books online and have them delivered to your local branch. They send an email when they are ready. Just like in the suburbs (whose libraries we also frequent -- we love them all)!

Posted by: Anonymous | February 12, 2007 11:30 AM

Chris' commentes (first posting) are a bit short-sighted. First of all, most people living in the District (if not all) place a premium on space, and to put it simply, room runs out fast for books and therefore people turn to libraries. Not to mention families. Libraries are indispensible. Period.

Posted by: Anonymous | February 12, 2007 11:37 AM

You know, I am always delighted when the Washington Post deigns to advertise the ongoing plight of the public libraries... but don't we all deserve more from our hometown newspaper? Where are the real reporters (journalists, not columnists like the sweet, ineffectual Mr. Fisher) looking into the real dysfunctions at DCPL?

Like, for example, the fact that the only two administrators retained by Ms. Cooper are currently the primary roadblocks to progress. The Human Resources manager and the Communications manager at DCPL both need to be fired and replaced with competent managers that can produce results.

DCPL has a ton of vacant positions at the top and can't get a Web page updated to save its life. These people need to go AND the Post needs to assign a real reporter to the dysfunction of the library system ASAP!

Posted by: Friend of the Library | February 12, 2007 12:17 PM

Good libraries are indicative of a commitment to education.

Lack of good libraries reflects a truer indication of the government's commitment to their constituents.

Some people just talk-the-talk. It's time for the elected officials to walk-the-walk.

Posted by: SoMD | February 12, 2007 12:21 PM

I have many fond memories of whiling away for hours in the Takoma Park DC library branch in the late '50s as a Keene elementary schooler. I am encouraged to hear that it is still going strong. I recently paid a visit to the Washingtoniana room in MLK and had to walk up three flights to reach it (plus two from the underground garage) because all the elevators were out. Sounds like an 'Americans with disabilities' action in the making. That said, I still favor renovation of MLK over moving or re-building.

Posted by: Old schooler | February 12, 2007 12:26 PM

I spent my childhood in the abundantly stocked stacks of the Chevy Chase and MLK libraries. After a few years of living in Petworth, I recently visited the neighborhood library for the first time, and it horrified me. The building itself is gorgeous, but there's almost nothing in there. There are no stacks and no books to fill them. Moving slowly, one person could probably inventory all the visible volumes in a single afternoon. Of the ten non-employees I saw on the first floor, seven were there for the tax-assistance program, and three were using the Internet. None was reading a book. I checked the computerized card catalog for the two canonical novels I wanted. Guess which four libraries had them? Chevy Chase, Georgetown, Cleveland Park, and MLK.

This morning, I spoke to a Petworth librarian. The library welcomes donations of "anything literary." So please send them all those great books you haven't touched since college!

Posted by: petworthian | February 12, 2007 1:55 PM

I spent my childhood in the abundantly stocked stacks of the Chevy Chase and MLK libraries. After a few years of living in Petworth, I recently visited the neighborhood library for the first time, and it horrified me. The building itself is gorgeous, but there's almost nothing in there. There are no stacks and no books to fill them. Moving slowly, one person could probably inventory all the visible volumes in a single afternoon. Of the ten non-employees I saw on the first floor, seven were there for the tax-assistance program, and three were using the Internet. None was reading a book. I checked the computerized card catalog for the two canonical novels I wanted. Guess which four libraries had them? Chevy Chase, Georgetown, Cleveland Park, and MLK.

This morning, I spoke to a Petworth librarian. The library welcomes donations of "anything literary." So please send them all those great books you haven't touched since college!

Posted by: petworthian | February 12, 2007 1:55 PM

I spent my childhood in the abundantly stocked stacks of the Chevy Chase and MLK libraries. After a few years of living in Petworth, I recently visited the neighborhood library for the first time, and it horrified me. The building itself is gorgeous, but there's almost nothing in there. There are no stacks and no books to fill them. Moving slowly, one person could probably inventory all the visible volumes in a single afternoon. Of the ten non-employees I saw on the first floor, seven were there for the tax-assistance program, and three were using the Internet. None was reading a book. I checked the computerized card catalog for the two canonical novels I wanted. Guess which four libraries had them? Chevy Chase, Georgetown, Cleveland Park, and MLK.

This morning, I spoke to a Petworth librarian. The library welcomes donations of "anything literary." So please send them all those great books you haven't touched since college!

Posted by: petworthian | February 12, 2007 1:56 PM

By the way, with a DC PL card you can get online access, reserve books online and have them delivered to your local branch. They send an email when they are ready. Just like in the suburbs (whose libraries we also frequent -- we love them all)!

---------

I have never had that system work and I had a librarian suggest I stop using it because it doesn't work right. I WANT it to work, but I can't get it to work. Most recently a librarian removed about a dozen reserves from my account that were a year old or more. There are books in the computer that aren't in the libraries.

Posted by: Bethesdan | February 12, 2007 2:54 PM

I recently rediscovered how wonderful libraries were. I hadn't stepped foot in a library since college, but in search of something different to do on a weekend, I stopped at the Cleveland Park library and signed up for a card in December. The smell of the books was divine - they smelled of knowledge, of history, of a time when education was valued in our country for more than just to get a job. I spent several hours reading there that day, and no, I was not one of those wearing **old turtlenecks, ill-fitting jeans, bad haircuts** as the snob above wrote. The idea of a library with a coffee shop is awesome and has the potential to make libraries popular again. God knows our country could use some smartening up! And Chris, not everyone can afford to go out and spend $15 a pop for something they want to read that later just collects dust. Besides, some of us read much more than we can afford, you know, to improve our minds.

Posted by: Bookworm Reborn | February 12, 2007 3:20 PM

Thank you for this important post, Marc. DC deserves a great library and there is no reason it can't have one. Urban libraries across the country from Seattle to Brooklyn prove there is need for a dynamic public library, with books, even the internet era.

Posted by: Rob Goodspeed | February 13, 2007 11:17 AM

I am happy every time you focus attention on this crucial issue, Marc.

I liked the post reminding us that public libraries are not something that has been around for hundreds of years. They were a democratic revolution of the early 20th century that is worth sustaining.

Whether or not and how they carry periodicals is totally not the issue. We need them open, safe, inviting, and full of a) books and b) online access. Periodicals and newspapers are important but for a library, not as much.

Books should include "classics", yes, but also best-sellers; good nonfiction on basic topics (history, lit, travel, etc.); and practical how-to stuff like gardening, cooking, plumbing, personal finance, computers, etc. There's a false dichotomy between classics and bestsellers since there are so many other books in between.

I am a 3rd/4th generation American and native English speaker, but I also REALLY like that Fairfax libraries have non-English holdings for our whole community -- Vietnamese, you name it. Everybody pays taxes -- and besides, this brings us all together in a welcoming way. As someone who has lived in a foreign country, you need materials in your own language sometimes. It is just too exhausting to live in another language all the time while you are learning it.

Posted by: Fairfax County | February 13, 2007 5:10 PM

Oh My God please tear down that DUMP MLK, make lots of money off of it and build new libraries! This is a TRAVESTY. Get rid of book prisons. Dont waste time and money on mobile boxes no one will go to. WAKE UP!

Posted by: I Love Shaw | February 13, 2007 5:46 PM

Funding What Matters
In Ways That Empower

The push to close Martin Luther King library and rebuild it on the site of the old convention center is yet another example of District

government operating from its usual shortsighted perspective -- known on some street corners as crackhead economics. Facing

potential budget shortfalls due to poor financial decisions, the DC Council is trying to selloff every parcel of our public land to the

highest bidder and best scammer. Libraries, like schools, should be totally off limits in this state-sponsored land grab. District

government must shift its focus to building a solid foundation through truly sound and open fiscal policies, while enhancing our

city-state's potential through effective educational empowerment -- that is measurable, accountable, immediate and long term.
It is more fiscally prudent to renovate MLK at its current location and convert its large open main floor into a revenue generating major

retail bookstore/café and public performance space, with the basement and upper 3 floors becoming a 21st century digital, research

and lending library, plus a landscaped rooftop reading garden -- honoring the intent of internationally acclaimed master architect

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's original adaptable architectural design concept. A partnership between the library and a major

bookstore/café chain is sure to generate significant revenue to self-sustain MLK library, as there is no such establishment in the

quickly developing Gallery Place area. Also, the facility's highly convenient access to multiple Metro train and bus stops near 9th and

G Streets NW guarantees its use well into this 21st century -- a real win-win proposition for taxpayers, a major bookseller, and most

of all the District's educational and cultural future. This is also an effective supplementary funding model for our ailing neighborhood

libraries throughout DC -- which also need updating and expanding with state-of-the-art resources. It is also a cost effective formula for

creating more walking distance neighborhood libraries.
Building a public technology and business college on the old convention center site can also profit the city by preparing District

residents to successfully compete in our region's -- as well as the global economy's -- growing technological market place.

Generating revenue from tuition fees to offset its maintenance is another benefit. Overall, this will be clear proof of our District public

officials' intent to end years of retarded rhetoric, boondoggle budgeting, pretentious achievements and incompetent governance.

Everyone benefits when District government finally steps into the new millennium and provides the solid foundation of genuine

educational empowerment for DC's current and future citizens. In another sense, this will be a sure sign of actionable intelligence by

DC public officials.
The District must start funding public construction projects outright rather than borrowing through issuing bonds, which carry expensive

fees and interest and threaten the city's financial health if defaulted on. If the council wants to issue a bond for a project, the citizens

should decide if it is worth incurring debt for by public vote -- a referendum. Full public input and oversight in fiscal policy is a sure

defense against crackhead economics.
The people expect and elect public servants to competently, effectively, honestly, and openly manage public resources so that the

citizens of the District are fully empowered to make their city a prosperous one. If they are unable or unwilling to do this, then the

people must relieve them of their duties -- before and on Election Day.

Miriam Moore
Vice Chairperson, District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control
www.DCIndependents.org
miriam@dcindependents.org

RELATED LINKS:

Online Petition to Save the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library: The DC Council has twice rejected Mayor Anthony Williams'

proposed legislation to build a new central library at the old Convention Center site. This provides an opportunity to renovate and

revitalize the larger and better located Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and reinvest money in our neighborhood libraries. We

urge Mayor Adrian Fenty, the DC Council, and the DC Public Library Trustees to join us in public hearings on rehabilitating MLK. Sign

online, and join the hundreds of citizens and organizations to save OUR public library . . .

http://www.mlk2stay.org/

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library: District of Columbia Public Library - 901 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 --

202.727.0321 -- Directly across the street from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro train station's 9th and G Street NW exit, and the

newly renovated, updated and expanded Smithsonian National Gallery of Art on 9th Street NW . . .

http://www.dclibrary.org/mlk/

The Mies van der Rohe Society - Illinois Institute of Technology: Preserving the architectural integrity of buildings and furnishings

designed by pioneering master architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library) through modernization of

his buildings' performance, enhancing their educational value for all DC citizens, while reinforcing the District of Columbia's world

famous architectural heritage . . .

http://www.mies.iit.edu/

Posted by: dcindependents | February 14, 2007 8:28 AM

Funding What Matters
In Ways That Empower

The push to close Martin Luther King library and rebuild it on the site of the old convention center is yet another example of District

government operating from its usual shortsighted perspective -- known on some street corners as crackhead economics. Facing

potential budget shortfalls due to poor financial decisions, the DC Council is trying to selloff every parcel of our public land to the

highest bidder and best scammer. Libraries, like schools, should be totally off limits in this state-sponsored land grab. District

government must shift its focus to building a solid foundation through truly sound and open fiscal policies, while enhancing our

city-state's potential through effective educational empowerment -- that is measurable, accountable, immediate and long term.
It is more fiscally prudent to renovate MLK at its current location and convert its large open main floor into a revenue generating major

retail bookstore/café and public performance space, with the basement and upper 3 floors becoming a 21st century digital, research

and lending library, plus a landscaped rooftop reading garden -- honoring the intent of internationally acclaimed master architect

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's original adaptable architectural design concept. A partnership between the library and a major

bookstore/café chain is sure to generate significant revenue to self-sustain MLK library, as there is no such establishment in the

quickly developing Gallery Place area. Also, the facility's highly convenient access to multiple Metro train and bus stops near 9th and

G Streets NW guarantees its use well into this 21st century -- a real win-win proposition for taxpayers, a major bookseller, and most

of all the District's educational and cultural future. This is also an effective supplementary funding model for our ailing neighborhood

libraries throughout DC -- which also need updating and expanding with state-of-the-art resources. It is also a cost effective formula for

creating more walking distance neighborhood libraries.
Building a public technology and business college on the old convention center site can also profit the city by preparing District

residents to successfully compete in our region's -- as well as the global economy's -- growing technological market place.

Generating revenue from tuition fees to offset its maintenance is another benefit. Overall, this will be clear proof of our District public

officials' intent to end years of retarded rhetoric, boondoggle budgeting, pretentious achievements and incompetent governance.

Everyone benefits when District government finally steps into the new millennium and provides the solid foundation of genuine

educational empowerment for DC's current and future citizens. In another sense, this will be a sure sign of actionable intelligence by

DC public officials.
The District must start funding public construction projects outright rather than borrowing through issuing bonds, which carry expensive

fees and interest and threaten the city's financial health if defaulted on. If the council wants to issue a bond for a project, the citizens

should decide if it is worth incurring debt for by public vote -- a referendum. Full public input and oversight in fiscal policy is a sure

defense against crackhead economics.
The people expect and elect public servants to competently, effectively, honestly, and openly manage public resources so that the

citizens of the District are fully empowered to make their city a prosperous one. If they are unable or unwilling to do this, then the

people must relieve them of their duties -- before and on Election Day.

Miriam Moore
Vice Chairperson, District of Columbia Independents for Citizen Control
www.DCIndependents.org
miriam@dcindependents.org

RELATED LINKS:

Online Petition to Save the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library: The DC Council has twice rejected Mayor Anthony Williams'

proposed legislation to build a new central library at the old Convention Center site. This provides an opportunity to renovate and

revitalize the larger and better located Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and reinvest money in our neighborhood libraries. We

urge Mayor Adrian Fenty, the DC Council, and the DC Public Library Trustees to join us in public hearings on rehabilitating MLK. Sign

online, and join the hundreds of citizens and organizations to save OUR public library . . .

http://www.mlk2stay.org/

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library: District of Columbia Public Library - 901 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 --

202.727.0321 -- Directly across the street from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro train station's 9th and G Street NW exit, and the

newly renovated, updated and expanded Smithsonian National Gallery of Art on 9th Street NW . . .

http://www.dclibrary.org/mlk/

The Mies van der Rohe Society - Illinois Institute of Technology: Preserving the architectural integrity of buildings and furnishings

designed by pioneering master architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library) through modernization of

his buildings' performance, enhancing their educational value for all DC citizens, while reinforcing the District of Columbia's world

famous architectural heritage . . .

http://www.mies.iit.edu/

Posted by: dcindependents | February 14, 2007 8:30 AM

As a former D.C. resident and friend of the D.C. Public Libraries, but presently a librarian in Hawaii, I read your blog with great interest. I did want to make a correction to one of the comments posted: Ms. Ginnie Cooper, to my knowledge, has never worked in Hawaii. Before going to New York, she was head of the Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR. Bart Kane was the former Hawaii State Librarian, who was last heard from when he was ousted as head of the P.G. County library system.

Posted by: Lenore S. Maruyama | February 14, 2007 7:59 PM

"Neighborhood public neighborhood libraries do not have hundreds of years of history, they're a post-World War I phenomenon."

That may be true east of the Mississippi (though it probably isn't), but in the West community libraries were popular over a hundred years ago. They were often build by mining companies to give their employees something to do in their off time besides cause trouble.

Posted by: michael | February 14, 2007 8:33 PM

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