Meet the Staff at Watha T.

Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library

Meet the Staff at Watha T.

The Watha T. Daniel branch of the District of Columbia Public Library system is not your typical library. Very rarely do we enjoy pockets of "silence." There are activities all over the small, one-floor, interim building. Five-feet-tall bookshelves section off “different” areas -- children’s, young adult, and adult.

The available "open spaces" teem with activities -- it is not just the children Casey with Kids
 Jamilla with kids who keep the beat, Rock(ing) Along With Casey (Danielson); I often see adults busy on the public computers, tapping their toes to the catchy music pouring out of Casey’s guitar.

More than 50 toddlers, two- and three-year-olds flock to enjoy and participate in the Spanish Mother Goose on the Loose program with our lively Jamilla Coleman.

Towanda Gravitt reigns supreme over the urban fiction collection, wheeling and dealing all day long with her large following ranging from teens to older adults. Off in another corner the history book club meets, Paul Sweeney facilitating animated Socratic dialogues on the politics of Aristotle and the Federalist Papers. Eric Riley chats and knits a Wednesday evening away with his knitting group regulars. Nick Hirsch’s little band must be dragged away from their craft-and- story-time sessions lisping "Eensy Weensy Spider" and admiring their creations -- spiders made from colorful pipe cleaners. Intermittent yells of delight or groans at near misses come from the teens enjoying Wii tournaments in their own space, or grouped around a computer, sharing happenings of their worlds on FaceBook...

Eric Riley, branch manager, describes it as the “the nexus of the neighborhood,” “an incubator for innovative programming.” Or as one of our regular customers describes it, the branch is like a “Frontier general store - full of expressed energy."                       

As we transition to the new Watha T. Daniel building, reopening 35 years after the original building first opened, we will continue to have more programs and more staff. Here is a glimpse of some of the innovative programs in the pipeline:
  • Makers -  a program to reinvigorate interest in engineering and design through interactive use of a 3-D printer and 3-D modeling software.
  • Digital Scrapbook - to provide a visual, interactive resource on Shaw neighborhood history.
  • Glee Club /Garage Band- To learn how to write, play, and record popular music.
  • Art Space project -- to expose members of the public to analysis and appreciation of various forms of art, painting & sculpture, to introduce people of all ages to art from different eras and cultural backgrounds, to introduce methods of art creation & engage the audience in a critical discussion of art.
  • Bollywood Dance Aerobics -- Additional staff will join this creative band.
So stay tuned as we profile each staff member of this library here in the coming months: Lorraine Boyd, Casey Danielson, Jamilla Colemen, Towanda Gravitt, Nicholas Hirch, Eric Riley, Jayanthi Sambasivan, Paul Sweeney.