Library Responses to Questions and Comments From Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Community Meetings

This document is a compilation of the questions and answers from the five community meetings held to discuss the design of the new Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Neighborhood Library. Some questions have been condensed as they were asked more than once.

Public Meeting Spaces

  • The library needs a public meeting space/activity room within the library.
  • Need meeting spaces to accommodate various and often times simultaneous uses.
  • It is important to have a flexible, multi-use meeting space, with state-of-the-art room dividers.
  • Need a conference room with phones to communicate with sick/shut-in community residents during meetings.


The library will have a large public meeting room to accommodate up to 100 people. In addition, there will be two smaller conference rooms to accommodate 10-12 people and several quiet study rooms for 1-2 people. The children’s area has a dedicated programming space that can be used for story times or other events. There is no plan to use a room divider in the large meeting room as these devices tend to be unwieldy to operate. Meeting rooms will be fully wired to allow for audio/video presentations. Though there are no plans for teleconferencing, Webcasting will be possible.


  • Provide shorthand books in the library.
  • In addition to ensuring physical access to the library, the collection should accommodate as many different types of users as possible (i.e. people with vision impairments and non-native English speakers).
  • The new library needs lots of books.
  • Re-establish a solid book collection that goes beyond new books.


The collection in the new library will include approximately 80,000 items, which is larger than the collection at the old Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Library. In addition to books, the collection will feature magazines, DVDs, audio books, access to databases and other reference materials. Details about the location of particular services within the building will be finalized closer to the opening of the library.


  • Will there be monthly/weekly computer literacy classes?
  • Where will senior resources be located within the new library?


While the schedule of specific programs will be decided closer to the date of opening, the library will offer many programs, including story time for children, author talks and book groups, computer training classes and more for a wide range of audiences. There also will be numerous services for people of all ages, including seniors, located throughout the library.

Public Art/Community History

  • Reflect community history within the library.
  • Will there be public art displayed around and inside the new library?
  • Public art, commemorative plaques or portraits that reflect the history of the neighborhood should be used in the design of the new library.
  • Outdoor sculpture. Where will it be located, how tall is it, how much does it cost, and is there money to pay for it? A previous newspaper article indicated that the money to pay for the sculpture would come out of certain convention and beautification funding.


A sculpture, which will be 21 feet tall and cost $150,000, will be installed on the entrance side of the library, as originally proposed. While the money currently is not in the budget, Mayor Fenty and Councilmember Jack Evans have committed to working to secure funding for the sculpture. Additionally, there will be space for displaying art in the building.

Sustainable/Environmentally Friendly Design

  • Design the new library according to green standards.
  • Energy costs can deplete library budget, and DCPL should look to control these costs.
  • Vegetative roof and solar panels. Several questions were asked about why there is no vegetative roof in the current design:
  • Is it a cost issue?
  • If built as currently designed, can a vegetative roof be added later?
  • Have there been studies comparing the cost savings with a vegetative roof and with the roof as designed?
  • There may be new city council legislation regarding vegetative roofs in the future. Also, would like a feasibility study on solar panel.


The building will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certified with a Silver rating. In any building process, choices have to be made balancing costs, materials, potential delays and design. The new library will have a white, reflective roof, which earns the same number of points for energy efficiency under the LEED Certification system as does a vegetative roof. Water runoff will be addressed in the design as well.

During the fifth community meeting, the project’s LEED consultant explained that the building will not have solar panels because this technology continues to be expensive relative to the energy savings produced. The consultant stressed that the building absolutely will meet LEED Silver Certification requirements. It is unlikely that the roof will be converted to a vegetative roof after completion. Any anticipated city legislation would not apply to the new library.


  • Would like to see computers spread out around the new library and not bunched up in one area.
  • Computers on rolling carts could serve as computer tables.
  • Locate computers conveniently for library users.
  • 167 surveys collected by the Library Dynamo group showed that the community wants a computer lab dedicated solely to computer training courses.
  • The community needs Wi-Fi connection and Mayor Fenty has expressed the desire to have Wi-Fi readily available to the people of the District.
  • Would like to see the widest range, highest power Wi-Fi connection placed in the new library. The Wi-Fi service should be easily accessible to patrons as well as the surrounding community.
  • What type of computers will be in the quiet rooms and how will they work?


The library will have 32 computers for the public located throughout the building: 24 for adult use and eight in the children’s area. In addition, laptops will be available for use anywhere inside the library, including the quiet study rooms. There will be a laptop cart available for computer training classes held in the meeting room or conference rooms.

The library will offer free Wi-Fi access as it does now at all library locations. The library is looking into the possibility of installing a high power connection that will extend beyond the walls of the library. A final decision on this will be made closer to the completion of construction.

Library Design Issues (Interior)

  • The new library should have large windows and plenty of natural light.
  • Would like to see if by raising the building, it will have more natural light in the lower level.


The library will have large windows and a translucent skin, which will allow plenty of natural light. Raising the building will result in more natural light into the lower level as well.

  • Would like to see the interior staircase as a prominent design feature.


The open design of the interior staircase and its placement near the entrance will help give it prominence and will be inviting to users.

  • Would be useful to view the scale on the design model and illustrations.


The library will provide scale illustrations when they become available. They will be posted online and in the interim library.

  • There should be signs indicating where the kids' room is located. The sign should be a mural, a brick pathway or something that starts in the entryway.


Signage will be clear and consistent throughout the building.

  • Would it be possible for the Friends of the Library to have a designated space in the new library?


The plans call for a room in the lower level for use by the Friends of the Library.

  • The lower level has a choppy layout and may need to be reconfigured.


The public areas of the lower level, including the large meeting room, conference room, restrooms, Friends’ room and vending machines are all easily accessible from one central lobby area.

  • Would like to see underground parking.


Due to the small footprint and underground Metro vents, parking will not be available on the site.

  • Bathroom Configuration. Wants two restrooms on the main floor with a unisex bathroom on the upper level. This will make it easier for seniors.


Currently, the plans call for one male and one female restroom, with two stalls in each, on the lower level. On the street level, there are plans for one unisex restroom, and there are plans for two unisex restrooms on the upper level.


  • Would like to see an area where library patrons can eat.
  • Need area with pay phones and lunch room.
  • Would it be possible for the library to include a rooftop café?
  • Would like to have a coffee shop at the new library or nearby.


The lower level will have space for vending. The library hopes to contract for a coffee/snack cart to operate in this area. There will be no public access to the rooftop. There are no plans for pay phones in the library.

Library Size

  • Would like to see a new library that is the same size as or larger than the old library.
  • Why will the new library building be just 20,000 sq/ft in size?
  • Does the underground WMATA tunnel limit the available footprint for the new library?


The new library will be approximately 20,000 square feet. The Library Building Program developed for Watha T. Daniel-Shaw fits within this size. The design maximizes flexibility to accommodate the most uses now and in the future. The redesign that was necessary to accommodate the underground Metro vent did not decrease the square footage.

Balancing Needs of Diverse Users

  • The interior design of the new library should reduce potential conflicts between users and uses. For example, separating active uses, such as tutoring from passive uses, such as reading.
  • Considerations should be made for the various and, perhaps, conflicting needs of young children, young adults and adults.
  • Need area for kids to play and relax.


The goal is to provide welcoming spaces for users of all ages. The new library will have separate areas for adults, teens and younger children. Within the children’s room, there will be three separate areas for ages birth-2, 2-5 and elementary age. There will be several quiet study rooms that can be used for tutoring or individual study.

Library Use Issues

  • Consider making the elevator accessible after hours.


The design offers the potential for access to the meeting room after hours, including the use of the elevator to reach the meeting room.

Library Exterior/Entrance/Landscaping

  • Would like to see the entrance to the new library on 7th Street.
  • Consider pedestrian safety when choosing where the entrance to the new library should be.
  • The new library design should be context sensitive, with exterior materials, streetscape and landscaping that are compatible to the surrounding neighborhood.
  • Landscaping around the new library is critical.
  • Include a flag pole near the entrance.
  • Would like to suggest a fence to control access and maintain the landscape.
  • I don’t really see much in terms of landscaping.
  • Not sure I like the exterior column on the 7th Street N.W. side; consider eliminating it if it is not structurally needed.
  • Need handicapped accessible ramps on both sides of library. This way, patrons needing access to the ramp can enter the library from any entrance.
  • I like the idea of raising the library building as this will make the building grander.
  • Landscape. Would like to see the landscaping studies.


The building’s iconic design is intended to serve as a beacon for the neighborhood, and be a source of civic pride. One of the goals of the design was to create one common entrance for all patrons. The entrance will be on the corner of 7th Street and Rhode Island Avenue. A pillar, along with exterior signage and a flag pole, will help clearly mark the entrance.

While the model of the new library does not show it, the site will be attractively landscaped with trees, shrubbery and other materials. The focus will be on plants that are low maintenance and drought tolerant, in keeping with the LEED Certification standards. DC Public Library will provide an image with the landscape concepts online when they become available.

Building Security

  • Security. Wants to know how security will be handled at the library (i.e., full-time security guards, 24-hour cameras, etc.)?
  • The new library design should deter vagrancy or loitering, which has been a problem in the past.
  • Be sure to include security cameras in and around the library premises.


DC Public Library will have 24-hour security cameras at the door. Additional security measures will be determined closer to the opening of the new library.


  • Compared to other libraries in other cities, the District public libraries appear to be more costly to design and build.
  • Change in overall budget has re-shifted the design of the library.


The total budget for the Watha T. Daniel-Shaw Library project is approximately $14.4 million. There has been no change in the budget for this project. The underground site restrictions discovered recently did necessitate a redesign of the building, but the architects have addressed the problem within budget. In addition, certain proposed design elements, such as channel glass, proved too costly, and alternative materials have been selected that will achieve the same intended effect.

The budget categories break down as follows:

Demolition: $352,238
Design: $1,266,651
Project Management: $1,324,126
Construction: $9,545,000
Furniture & Equipment: $1,000,000
Contingency (unanticipated costs): $1,000,000

TOTAL: $14,488,015

Process Issues

  • Schedule. How delayed is the project due to the foundation changes that had to be made?


30 – 60 days off schedule. The contractor anticipates being able to make up this time during the 18-month construction phase.

  • Response to Previous Concerns. Concerned that previous comments being ignored. This makes people angry.
  • Information Needed. Would like images of the design online. Wants images with scale and dimensions at the meetings. Would like a gallery display of the design, along with the model, in the library for the community. Can images and/or presentations be posted online a week before the next meeting? The community wants to understand why the changes have been made to the design. A budget narrative and a design narrative, posted online, would help in this regard.
  • Meeting Format. Would like more time and information than provided to ask questions.
  • Meeting Request. Would like another meeting to discuss design issues.


Being responsive to concerns is a priority of the DC Public Library. The library is working to determine new ways to engage people who have not attended the meetings. Design images will not be posted prior to community meetings. The meetings are the best way to present the images to the community because the architects and library staff are available to explain the design and answer questions. However, there will be opportunity to respond to the images and/or presentation not only at the community meetings, but after by completing comment cards or offering comments online. A design gallery, including floor plans, is available online and in the interim library. This is generally posted within a week of the meeting, often earlier.