Wells to the street to protest closing of MLK Library (but Mayor Gray finally found his Mayoral-ness)
Not everyone is taking the Sunday closing of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library sitting down. This Sunday, the first that MLK will be closed, Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-6) will speak at a rally outside the downtown library at 901 G Street NW at 1 PM.
While local media has cited the empathy deficit and inconsistency by the Mayor and City Council to the plight of the libraries, Wells, is nonetheless optimistic. “I find that most of my colleagues are sympathetic to the need, and I’ll continue to push to find the funds needed.”
In a vacuum of organized opposition to the library’s closing the rally is being convened by the DC Library Renaissance Project. “Budget hearing testimony from every ward was not enough to make clear to this particular government that residents want their libraries open more hours, not fewer—especially in difficult economic times,” says Robin Deiner, Executive Director of the Renaissance Project. “Sunday’s rally has become necessary to achieve that understanding with our officials.”
Though supporting funding for libraries might seem as wholesome as apple pie, some library advocates point to reasons why it’s not a top priority for city leaders. At a campaign forum last fall, former Washington City Paper and Washington Post reporter Elissa Silverman asked candidates if they supported restoring money for Sunday hours at MLK as well as to show the audience their DC library cards. Not one candidate—including now At-Large Councilmember Vincent Orange—had a borrower’s card in their wallet
Library hours back and forth
Under Mayor Fenty, in the fall of 2009 Sunday hours at all 24 branch libraries were eliminated while MLK Library would stay open on Sunday, because of its accessibility to metro.
According to internal figures from the library, costs of keeping MLK open on Sundays and branch libraries during the school year are manageable. The cost of keeping MLK open Sunday, from 1pm to 5pm, all year is $316,000. To keep 11 of the 24 branch libraries open on Sunday, May to September, would cost $365,853. Included in the 11 libraries are one in each ward plus one additional library in wards 7 and 3.
All neighborhood libraries were open Sunday, September through May from October 2007 to October 2009. The city’s fiscal year begins October 1st. To keep all neighborhood libraries open Sundays, from September to May would cost $713,215 and to keep 11 neighborhood libraries open Sundays all year would cost an estimated $487,804.
Furthermore, the capital budget has provided for not only brand new or renovated libraries across the city to open – that are then not open on Sundays – but for a RFP to“complete the Interior Improvements to the Business Science and Technology Reading Room and the Great Hall” to hit the street. The renovation of MLK is historic and laudable, but at the apparent cost of public access is legitimately questionable and ineffectual.
Sunday’s Last Hour
Last Sunday’s fateful final hour passed slowly. Many of the people I spoke with had only just learned the library would be closed on Sundays.
“It’s terrible we have to go through this,” Iman Shabazz said as she used a public computer on the first floor. “What are we supposed to do? Go over the bridge into Virginia?
In the Washingtoniana division two UDC nursing students, Gallen Rodes and Demetria Byrd, were reviewing for an upcoming test. “We came here originally for the free internet access.” UDC, the city’s public university, does not maintain Sunday library hours. “It’s hard schedule-wise. Working, kids, full-time student,” said Byrd. “They don’t care.”
The second floor’s teen space was active with students studying, chatting, and digging through their friends newly uploaded photos on Facebook. Coolly leaning against a wall just outside the door was 17 year-old “D.” Although he frequents MLK with his friends, he hadn’t heard the library would be closing on Sundays. “I’m like jah mad,” D said to his friend nearby. “The Mayor, son, he’s gonna have to see me.”
“In five minutes the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library will be closing. Please have all books and materials checked out,” announced a DC Library Police officer over the building’s loud speaker.
“This is a really great and progressive place to go just for pleasure sake,” said David McCullough, a high school student aware he shares a name with a Pulitzer Prize winning author. Along with his girlfriend, McCullough self-checked out seven graphic and manga novels a couple minutes after 5pm. With Love Sick by Jake Coburn the last book checked out, the commodious lobby of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library was abandoned.
According the press release announcing that Sunday hours at MLK have now been restored, it appears Gray will make a ceremonial appearance at the opening of the library. I wonder if Gray has a library card?
Who do we give credit too for hours being restored? Does it matter? Maybe Gray or his people realized, they really shouldn’t close the one library open in the entire city. Gray might not be as tone deaf as we thought, but he still needs to deal with the Bellevue situation and other matters of running a big city. We give credit where it’s due, but credit for something that you should already be doing is not deserved.
Friends of Southeast Library are having the March book sale this Saturday, March 12th from 10 AM to 3 PM.
Hundreds of new books have been donated the February sale where I grabbed up a DC classic for a cool $1. The Southeast Library is located at t 7th and D Streets, SE (403 7th Street SE), right across the street from the Eastern Market metro station.
Thanks deservedly goes to to Mayor Tony Williams. Neither Fenty nor Gray can take credit for what began planning for way back in 2004.
Syndicate has yet to seek comment from DC Library Renaissance Project / District Dynamos.
According to DCPL…
The new library will open in Summer 2011 and will include: space for 80,000 books, CDs, DVDs and other library materials; 32 public-access computers and free Wi-Fi Internet access; a large meeting room for up to 100 people and two conference rooms for up to 14 people. Like all other library buildings under construction, a LEED Silver Certification is expected.
“This new library will feature both an inspiring design and critical city services,” says Ginnie Cooper. “Youth looking for additional educational resources, adults applying for jobs online and community groups looking for meeting space will all have their needs met here.”
The new library was designed by award-winning architecture team Adjaye & Associates and Weincek Associates. Coakley Williams, Inc will partner with Blue Skye Development, LLC to build the new Washington Highlands Neighborhood Library under the Library’s Mentor-Protege program. Developed with the DC Department of Local Small Business Development, the program partners small certified local businesses with larger businesses to create more opportunities for smaller firms to work on government contracts.
During construction, library services will be provided at the interim library located at 4037 S Capitol St., SW.
One of the most prominent developers in East Washington through the first half of this year has proven to be an unexpected and sometimes forgotten member of the community, the library.
On June 25, both recent and long-time Ward 7 residents and community leaders joined Mayor Fenty and Chief Librarian of the DC Public Library, Ginnie Cooper, at the grand opening of a 63,000 square foot multi-purpose facility in Deanwood that includes a 7,500 square foot library at 1350 49th Street NE directly off Minnesota Avenue NE.
With 20 computers, space set aside for children’s activities, a teen study area, and capacity for 25,000 books, the new Deanwood Library stands as a welcome upgrade for the neighborhood to those who remember the Deanwood Library Kiosk at 4215 Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue NE.
All one hundred and twenty square feet of the kiosk were closed in the summer of 2008. Neighborhood jokes had circulated for years surrounding the library such as “Even (insert name) has read all the books in there.” Those jokes are now relegated to memory.
Sylvia Brown, ANC 7C04 and past president of the Deanwood Citizens Association, has already observed a noticeable increase in foot traffic in the neighborhood, which she says is a great plus for the community with the prospect of future investment and development.
“It’s great to see people walking from as far as Division Avenue and Foote Street,” says Brown, who hopes the Deanwood Recreation Center and Library, the realization of the community’s long history of civic activism and engagement, can be a source of hope for communities in other areas of the city.
Along with the new Deanwood Library, in the past 3 months the city has opened new modern libraries for the Anacostia and Benning branches. The Benning Neighborhood Library, two-stories and 22,000 square feet, at 3935 Benning Road NE was the first new stand-alone library to open in the city in more than two decades. The library has an expanded children’s area, study rooms, and a wide range of materials for check-out from DVDs to new releases.
Additionally, last fall, a new Parklands-Turner Library opened at 1547 Alabama Avenue SE, replacing the old kiosk still standing across the street in the Shops at Parkland strip mall in the same lot as the Giant. The new library has been a solid anchor for the surrounding retail according to neighborhood members.
The Washington Highlands Library that stood at 115 Atlantic Street SW has been knocked down. A new library is scheduled to open in 2011 and will continue to hold the attention of an active community that has been very engaged in the planning process. The interim library has been opened at 4037 South Capitol Street SW in the intermediary.
On a recent afternoon a group of a dozen early and pre-teens from the immediate neighborhood were “chillaxing” in the Anacostia Library or “chillville” as they call it. The library keeps them “out of trouble and doing something positive” according to Kabula Samuel, 12, a daily visitor.
“It used to be a miracle when you’d get a computer, now it’s no longer than a 30 minute wait,” said her twin brother, Mabula.
Every member of the group held a library card. The DC Library Police Officer assigned to the Anacostia Library noted he has a good relationship with the group of young people he sees every day.
At the time of the interview, the group of young people made it a point to show me the 8 MAC computers in the children’s section. I observed seven out of the eight were “out of service.” Popular consensus was that the computers had been down for a month, if not two months, or longer. However, this did not diminish their enthusiasm for their new neighborhood library, “We’ll be here tomorrow if you have any more questions.”
Fulfilling the prophetic adage that “if you build it, they will come”, preliminary circulation numbers for the Benning and Anacostia Library, released by DCPL, indicate there is direct causality between increased circulation numbers and new libraries.
The new Benning Neighborhood Library opened on April 5, 2010. From that date through May 31, 2010, this library issued 1,647 new library cards. In May 2010, the new Benning Library had 7,224 items checked out. The Benning Interim Library had 1,928 items checked out in May 2009. The old Benning Library had 899 books checked out in April 2004.
The new Anacostia Neighborhood Library opened on April 26, 2010 and from that date through May 31 had issued 669 new library cards. In May 2010, the Anacostia Library had 5,318 items checked out while in May 2009 the Anacostia Interim Library had 2,373 items checked out. In comparison, the old Anacostia Library had 1,000 books checked out in April 2004.
One reason for increased circulation is a wider variety of materials available to the public, say DC Library officials. The old libraries offered books and CDs while the interim and new libraries offer books, DVDs, CDs, playaways [audiobooks on self-contained mp3 players] and other items that have been popular and thus circulated.
In full library disclosure, we must acknowledge the Capitol View Neighborhood Library at 5001 Central Avenue SE and the Francis Gregory Interim Library at 2100 36th Place SE. The interim library will remain open during the construction of the new Francis Gregory Library, which is scheduled to open in summer 2011, according to the library’s website.
While older and somewhat antiquated libraries in upper Northwest such as Cleveland Park and Chevy Chase have been long-time pillars of community life, the new state-of-the-art libraries in East Washington have opened with an enthusiasm of renewed civic prides that has been a long time coming.
New Yorker; “Publish or Perish” – The future of books in a world with iPads, Kindles, Google Edition
The Syndicate passes along this thorough article in The New Yorker about the developing trench wars being waged between the “big” 6 publishing houses and Apple and Amazon who have developed successful E-book devices in the iPad and Kindle. The article touches on Google Editions which has scanned more than 12 million books and will be launched in the middle to late summer. The Kindle is pushing a half million and the iPad will most likely have 100,000 titles by the middle to end of the summer.
Their is a lot of discussion going on in the publishing world including Robert S. Miller, President and Publisher of HarperStudio who looks back on 2009 as a watershed year and predicts the dominant group of six publishing titans (Random House, Hachette, Pearson, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon & Schuster) could shrink to three in the next five years.
You can access e-books on your laptop or PDA, iPhone, but you have to your library card number handy.
The article is a great read (upwards of 6k word count) for anyone who cares about reading and its evolving future.
Anacostia Library has that new smell as it opens for business; DC Public Library continues to make moves citywide
As previously stated, The Syndicate was conceived, birthed, and raised up as a youngster in the DC Public Library system and thusly must continue to applaud the opening of new libraries citywide.
Today, the Anacostia area joined ranks with other city neighborhoods who have recently welcomed new epicenters of learning and research to their communities. Libraries are sacred. They are where young children on the wrong end of the digital divide keep pace with their more advantaged peers. It is where folks who for one reason or another do not have their high school diploma or GED seek out information to obtain these necessary credentials. It is where community groups such as the Friends of the Anacostia Library join together to plan, organize, and make a sustainable difference in their ‘hood. Thank you to Ginnie Cooper, city politicos, all library staff, and city residents who love the library for showing their love and keeping it 100. The Syndicate, never a green simp gump sucka, loves you and our city libraries right back.
From the Post’s DC Wire,
New library opens in Anacostia, as part of citywide effort
The District on Monday opened the new $14.7 million Anacostia Public Library, part of an effort by the administration of Mayor Adrian M. Fenty to complete the construction of long-awaited libraries throughout the city.
The new library, which can hold 80,000 books, DVDs, CDs and other materials and features 32 computers for public use, was six years in the making. Though the former library’s closing pre-dated the Fenty administration, the mayor was criticized in 2007 for quickly moving to rebuild the Georgetown public library after a fire when construction on other libraries, like Anacostia, were in limbo.
“This facility is a perfect example of the city government striving to deliver world-class services and facilities to our neighborhoods,” Fenty said of the new facility on Good Hope Road SE in a statement. “This state-of-the-art facility will serve as a valuable tool for our youth providing them with additional educational resources enabling them to continue down the path of academic progress.”
The new library will be open Monday through Saturday.
Over the past three years, the Fenty administration has saw the opening of dozens of new parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, libraries and recreational centers. Although many of them were in the planning stages before Fenty took office, administration officials argue they deserve credit for pushing the projects to completion.
But Fenty’s chief rival in the mayor’s race, Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D), is questioning whether the mayor has spread enough of the wealth around to the city’s poorest communities.
Gray suggested at his campaign kickoff that Fenty didn’t care about the poorer sections of the city.
“We hoped for a mayor that would represent the entire city, but instead see one that ignores those who live in the most underserved neighborhoods,” Gray said.
A Washington Post poll conducted in January showed many residents who live east of the Anacostia River also question Fenty’s commitment to their neighborhoods. In a head-to-head match-up with Fenty, only 14 percent of voters in Ward 7 and 8 said they would support the mayor, compared to 55 percent who would support the council chairman, according to the poll.
Since that poll was published, Fenty’s official scheduled has included at least one event in Southeast a week, suggesting he understands he faces an uphill reelection battle unless he improves his numbers in that part of the city.
Major moves are being made all over the city today. It’s the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House, our beloved ‘Skins welcome Donavan McNabb to town, it’s Opening Day, and the DC Public Library, after nearly six years of patience by the city’s library using denizens, is opening the new state-of-the-art Benning Library at 3935 Benning Road, NE.
Amenities abound in this 22,000 sq foot facility with 32 public access computers, more than 40,000 items – books, cds, dvds - ready to be checked out, a green roof, nearly two dozen laptops, and public meeting spaces.
The Syndicate applauds the DC Public Library, while receiving limited to no love from our rhetorical spouting city politicos, for keeping it moving in our communities where neighborhood branch libraries are cultural and learning epicenters for students, young adults, seniors, and everyone who MOBs with a fury in pursuit of education.
From a great article in today’s Post,
On the top level, the library is a library: large, open, filled with books and pleasantly lit by south-facing windows. But descend the stairs, and the library’s lower level is divided into meeting rooms. The stairway functions as an open spine, not only connecting the two spaces but also allowing visitors to see into the building and through it as well, up the stairs and out the front windows. Inner doors on the library level can be closed after hours, while the meeting rooms remain open for a wide range of community activities.
We know our neighborhoods by the logos and brands on display. Rather than turn its back on the somewhat bleak stores of East River Park, the library becomes the prestige brand. The library is the big sexy on this stretch of Benning Road, and more power to it.
Good buildings, even modest successes, often don’t get the credit they deserve. They become the background and humbly perform their function. When Benning closed a little over five years ago, plans to replace it called for something more suburban, with parking in front and no meeting rooms. That would have committed the branch to a car-centric existence with little hope of diverting the pedestrian traffic of the shopping center.
Fortunately, those plans were scrapped, and the result is a better building, an addition likely to be a major player in the daily life of its neighborhood, and a good reminder of why people pay taxes and what they get in exchange.
Opening festivities will be held this morning at 10 with a Grand Opening planned for Saturday. We encourage one and all to come out to witness, smell, breathe, and come touch the newest member of the greatest library system in the world in the greatest city in the world. (The Syndicate, along with city politicos, can throw down the elocution when needed and appropriate, as it is now.)
From Wash Biz Journal
Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one.
American children for generations have been raised on Dr. Suess, so it’s only right that we acknowledge the 106th birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel aka Dr. Suess.
Everyone is celebrating including First Lady Michelle Obama, who today read “The Cat in the Hat” to a group of children wearing red-and-white-striped stovetop hats reports the AP.
“Do you know the president of the United States reads all the time,” Mrs. Obama told a group of more than 200 students from elementary schools in Washington and Arlington, Va. “Our girls at home read every single night.”
The first lady said that her daughters, Sasha and Malia, are allowed to stay up 30 minutes later if they are reading.
Some of the first family’s favorite children’s books are “Horton Hatches the Egg,” by Dr. Seuss and “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak, Mrs. Obama said in response to one of the children’s questions.
You may wonder how did Dr. Suess become Dr. Suess?
According to Philip Nel, author of Dr. Suess: An American Icon, in the spring of 1925, Geisel was editor of and contributor to Jack-o-lantern, Dartmouth’s humor magazine. Geisel and nine friends were caught drinking gin in his room. The dean put them all on probation for violating Prohibition, and stripped Geisel of his editorship. To evade punishment, Geisel published cartoons under other names—L. Pasteur, L. Burbank, D. G. Rossetti, T. Seuss, and Seuss. This was the first time he signed his work “Seuss” (his middle name and his mother’s maiden name). Two years later, he gave himself the mock-scholarly title of “Dr. Theophrastus Seuss.” In May 1928, he shortened that to “Dr. Seuss.”
DC is home to countless cultural and learning institutions, but none more important than the DC Public Library system. The Syndicate does not debate this indisputable fact.
Despite reducing operating hours last March across all branches citywide and at the flagship 901G, the DC Public Library remains as integral to city life as ever before.
Last week DC Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper, Mayor Fenty, and Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser all rocked hard hats and put their weight behind sledgehammers to “celebrate the end of demolition at the Petworth Neighborhood Library with a wall-breaking ceremony,” according to the DC Public Library.
“Today, we break the interior wall through 70 years of history to revive this library to meet the needs of this community while maximizing the historic landmark’s use,” said Mayor Fenty.
Originally designed by Nathan C. Wyeth, the Georgian revival-style library first opened January 27, 1939 at 4200 Kansas Avenue NW. The library, which closed December 19 last year, plans to re-open in Spring 2011 after undergoing $12 million in renovations that began in June 2009. Improvements include a 100 person meeting room and a full restoration of its original interior.
While the library undergoes renovations, services such as free WiFi Internet, circulation, and 20 computers are accessible at the interim library next door.
Meanwhile, crosstown the Benning Neighborhood Interim Library, at 4101 Benning Rd. N.E. will close Saturday, March 13, 2010.
* 80,000 books, DVDs, CDs and other library materials
* Separate reading areas for adults, teens and children
* 32 public access computers, free Wi-Fi Internet access and a
mobile laptop cart with 20 computers
* Comfortable seating for 200 customers
* A large program room for up to 100 people and two 12-person
* Parking for 14 vehicles (no longer open to the public at 901 G)
During the transition to the new location, library users can return or
renew books checked out at any other DC Public Library location or
online at dclibrary.org.
The library nearest Benning is the Capitol View Neighborhood Library at 5001 Central Avenue, SE.