Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Washington's Lame Duck Mayor Williams Proposes Replacing Brooding, Run-Down Mess Of A Public Library With A New Modern, Sunny, And Airy Public Library

"District of Columbia residents have a rare opportunity to replace our downtown central library with a beautiful, welcoming, clean and modern building that can stand as an emblem of everything good and inspiring about our city. This new library would serve everyone and be a place that raises our expectations about how a visit to a library ought to feel.

But here's the rub. Some of our residents are afraid of building a new library. They've lived with the awful conditions of the current Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library for so long that they can't envision something bolder and better. These opponents talk about renovating the downtown library -- even though that could mean four years of terrible disruptions for patrons and still leave us with a library that falls short on every front....

Here is my plan:

I propose that we vacate the current library. It is poorly suited to be a place of learning, has little architectural significance and would be far more valuable if turned over to the private sector. By leasing the building -- which would include protecting the exterior and basic shape -- we could bring in more than $60 million, a good step toward the creation of a new library. These ideas were developed in part by my Blue Ribbon Library Task Force and would be carried out in part by our new system director, Ginnie Cooper, who helped make the library systems in Brooklyn and Portland, Ore., among the best in the country.

To replace the present library, I'd propose building a new one on the site of the former Convention Center -- just two blocks north of the current spot. I believe we still ought to name it in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But instead of a brooding, run-down mess, a new library could be sunny and airy and filled with the latest technology -- from WiFi and digital access to a large and welcoming space for new moms, young children and students. We'd have an extensive collection of all media, from DVDs and CDs to research material and business resources. We're looking at incorporating artwork, a coffee shop, a garden, and even a pleasant gift or flower shop -- all sharing space in a clean new building.

Even more important: A new space would also include an expanded collection in Washington, D.C., history, African American history and the history of the civil rights movement. It would truly be a library befitting Dr. King's legacy, and it would help us maintain an extensive collection devoted to the unique history of our great city." ...

[Mayor] Anthony A. Williams "Why D.C. Needs a New Library" Washington Post June 13, 2006



Mayor, now that you have your new Baseball Stadium, how about a Music Conservatory, as well as functioning Central and Branch Public Libraries and other basic civic services?

Mural at the Martin Luther King Library in Washington, where a coalition gathers annually to feed and clothe the homeless.

Photo credit: D.C. Public Library via BlackCollegeWire.com. With thanks.

www.blackcollegewire.org/ news/050114_king-howard/


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