The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library History

The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library History

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Groundbreaking ProgramThe Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the central library of the DC Public Library, opened on August 21, 1972. An extensive study by the firm of Booz, Allen and Hamilton had established the need for a new central library in the downtown business district. The original Carnegie Library, opened in 1903 at Mount Vernon Square, was unable to keep up with the growing needs of Washingtonians.

The world-famous architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was commissioned to design the structure, and ground was broken at 9th and G streets in July 1968. By action of the Board of Library Trustees in 1971, the new building was named in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

library dedicationThe new library, dedicated in September 1972, has contributed to the revitalization of the old downtown business district and shopping area.

Constructed of matte black steel, brick and bronzed-tinted glass, the building cost about $18 million and provides 400,000 square feet of floor space on four floors above ground and three underground levels. Designated a historic landmark on June 28, 2007, the city’s central library houses public service areas, including subject divisions, meeting rooms and exhibition space, as well as the administrative and support services for all public libraries in Washington, D.C.

For a detailed look at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, take a look at our interactive timeline, complete with images, letters, programs and drawings, on Facebook.