Anacostia Community Listening Session Meeting Summary and Compilation of Public Comments

Meeting Date: Thursday, May 17, 2007, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Location: Anacostia Interim Library, 1800 Good Hope Rd. S.E., Washington, D.C. 20020

Meeting Purpose: Community listening meeting and discussion of hopes and dreams for the new Anacostia Neighborhood Library.

Meeting Format: Presentation and interactive workshop format. Display boards included: 1) pictures of notable design and programming ideas from other libraries across the country, 2) a list of 18 library service categories to help plan a new library and 3) a study area map.

The presentation included an overview of project, the schedule and the library service categories. A facilitated discussion allowed participants to provide comments and ask questions of District library staff. Meeting attendees were asked to identify their service priorities using colored dots and writing. The participants also used a color dot to identify where they lived using the study area map board.

Attendees: Approximately 45 people attended the meeting and 32 community members added their names to the sign-in sheets. Ginnie Cooper, Monica Lewis, Elissa Miller, Jeffrey Bonvechio, Eric Coard and the Anacostia Interim Library staff represented the DC Public Library. Guitele Nicoleau and John Hill (Board Chair) represented the District Library Board. The following members of the CirclePoint consulting team attended the meeting: Kristy Ranieri, Steve Lee and Tosin Durotoye.

Meeting Overview
The community listening meeting for the Anacostia Neighborhood Library provided the public the opportunity to meet with staff from the District Public Library and share their ideas for what the community needs and the special programs that they would like to see as part of the new library. Following introductions, Ginnie Cooper, Chief Librarian for the District of Columbia Public Library, introduced the project, the purpose of the meeting, discussed the constraints and opportunities facing the project, and provided context for the 18 library service responses and how they were developed.

Review of Past Community Input
Ms. Cooper also provided an overview of the public comments received at past community meetings for the Anacostia Neighborhood Library. She noted that the comments from past meetings, as well as the input collected at the May 17th meeting, would be considered in developing the design and programming for the new library. Below is a listing of some of the key requests and input on service areas for the new Anacostia Neighborhood Library from past community meetings:

  • High speed Internet connection
  • New books
  • Meeting/multipurpose facility is important
  • Exciting children's space
  • Incorporates rich history of community
  • Exciting young adult, children and elder areas
  • Anacostia Indians
  • Frederick Douglas home
  • Rich ethnic groups
  • Movement era
  • Computer labs for adults and children
  • Users do resumes and online job applications
  • Quiet rooms for tutoring
  • Art performance centers, art exhibits, performance
  • “Dream of a Destination,” an equalizer to equal the playing field for higher learning
  • Adequate space for child’s activities/crafts
  • A teen center
  • Structure itself to be fun and inspiring, stand out as "the place to be”
  • Modern lavatories
  • More parking, as much as possible
  • Modern state-of-the-art one-level library
  • More than one meeting room
  • Wheelchair accessibility
  • Hispanic books

Summary of May 17th Community Listening Session Input
After the presentation, the meeting participants were given the opportunity to discuss and identify their top service priorities using the 18 existing service responses as a guide. The following were identified as the top 3 priorities (1 is the most important):

1) Connect to the Online World
2) Understand How to Find, Evaluate and Use Information: Information Fluency
3) Create Young Readers: Early Literacy
3) Succeed in School: Homework Help

The remaining service responses are listed in order of importance as were indicated by the participants:

4) Learn to Read and Write: Adult, Teen, and Family Literacy
4) Visit a Comfortable Place: Physical and Virtual Spaces
5) Be an Informed Citizen: Local, National and World Affairs
6) Know Your Community: Community Resources and Services
7) Celebrate Diversity: Cultural Awareness
8) Make Informed Decisions: Health, Wealth and Other Life Choices
9) Discover Your Roots: Genealogy and Local History
9) Get Facts Fast: Ready Reference
9) Make Career Choices: Job and Career Development
9) Stimulate Imagination: Reading, Viewing and Listening for Pleasure
10) Satisfy Curiosity: Lifelong Learning
11) Build Successful Enterprise: Business and Nonprofit Support
12) Express Creativity: Cultural Awareness
13) Welcome to the United States: Services for New Immigrants

Participants were also given the opportunity to share and express other service priorities that were not reflected or expounded upon in the list of 18. The following lists some of the additional priorities:

  • Computer literacy training for senior citizens
  • Assistance for persons with hearing or sight-impaired needs
  • Green and environmentally friendly library building
  • Handicap-accessible library building
  • College prep for youth and adults
  • Interactive learning programs for children between the ages of 2 and 10 years old
  • Reading clubs
  • An onsite café
  • Green Space

Additional Comments and Questions

  • Make sure that the public input received at previous meetings is considered during the planning process.
  • The new library needs to be accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements.
  • Meeting rooms should be a key feature of the new library.
  • The new library should be equipped with enough computer workstations (at least 20) to accommodate local organizations in the area.
  • Sign language classes should be offered in the new library.
  • An onsite café could result in damaged books.
  • Library café could be located outside of the library where food can be kept away from books.
  • Bilingual services and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes should be offered at the new library, and while these patrons are in class, their children should be offered onsite daycare/learning session.
  • The following library service responses should involve student volunteers from area high schools: Early Literacy; Adult, Teen and Family Literacy; and Homework Help.
  • The original Anacostia Library building served as a designated fall-out shelter. Are there plans to replace the shelter?
  • A number of community programming needs go beyond the scope of the public library staff (i.e. GED training). Are there plans to partner with the community or District services to provide additional staffing?
  • Will there be job openings to work with children ages 6 months and up? How do we get the young people involved in this process to find out what they would like?
  •  Does the library still receive donations of used books?
  • Can an old library card still be used?

Schedule and Next Steps
Ginnie Cooper, Chief Librarian for the District of Columbia Public Library, provided an overview of the next steps in the process. She noted that the project architects will be identified by the beginning of June 2007. The next community meeting for the Anacostia Neighborhood Library will be held in late summer 2007, when the architects have developed design concepts for the public to review.

Library design is targeted for completion in spring 2008, and a final public meeting will be held at this time. Ms. Cooper reminded the group that the new library is fully funded and targeted to open in 2010.