DC Public Library Explores Future of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Building

News Releases

DC Public Library Explores Future of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Building

Residents Invited to Sept. 19 Discussion

Aug. 28 2012 -- Forty years after the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library opened its doors, the DC Public Library explores what’s possible for the historic building and what makes a spectacular central library.  District residents are encouraged to join in the discussion at the Sept. 19 meeting of the Board of Library Trustees at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G Street, NW, 6 p.m.  Nationally recognized architects and library experts will present ideas to board members and residents.

“We are eager to hear from library users, lovers of architecture, and others about what can be done to improve the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library,” said Ginnie Cooper, chief librarian for the District of Columbia.

In the meantime, improvements continue on the 40-year-old building.  The Business, Science and Technology room on the first floor closed this week to make way for a revamp of the first floor that includes a new Digital Commons technology space that will house 70 public computers.  Improvements to the Great Hall that will make it an even better place for performances and programs. Work on the first floor is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

“Over the years, we have done a lot to improve the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library from improved lighting, to a new teen space, and a renovated assistive services space,” added Cooper.  “All of this work, including the first floor work that we’re doing now, is to improve the library experience for District residents.”

To further discussion on the future of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library building, the DC Public Library commissioned the Urban Land Institute (ULI) to study possibilities for the building last November.  The ULI report issued last spring suggested adding additional floors to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library building and sharing space with another civic, cultural or commercial entity.  Any scenario including continuing the status quo, the report stated, requires a significant financial commitment by the District to improve the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library building.  Based on that report, the Library charged The Freelon Group – the Martin Luther King Jr. Library building’s architect of record since 2010 – and library consultants June Garcia and Susan Kent with developing ideas for renovating and reviving the historically protected Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library building. Their work will be presented at the September Library board meeting.

In the days following the Library board meeting, the District of Columbia City Council’s Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation will hold a public roundtable.  The roundtable hearing will be held on 11 a.m. Sept. 27 on the fifth floor of the John A. Wilson Building.