The “Novel Proposal” (11/5) that the Martin Luther King Memorial Library needs to be demolished or totally renovated is not really that novel. In a recent survey done by the District of Columbia Public Library as part of its strategic plan, the need for improved facilities at the central library and branches was confirmed as a major concern of library customers. Even before the results of this survey were known, the library began working with the Downtown Business Improvement District to explore whether or not the main library could continue to support library functions in the new millennium. A preliminary voluntary assessment of the building was conducted earlier this year by senior engineers of the John Akridge Co. to begin the process of deciding if the library could be renovated or if a new building should seriously be considered. We are also working with representatives of the American Institute of Architects to evaluate the viability of future programs and services in a renovated building. We are committed to creating a library system befitting the nation’s capital and are asking for a facilities assessment that also includes not only the Martin Luther King Memorial Library but also our neighborhood branches—some of our most important resources.
Libraries are more than buildings. What the article did not mention was the outstanding services provided not only by the MLK Library staff but also by those at the neighborhood branches—often, in less-than-ideal conditions.
We welcome ideas and assistance from the community to help us reach our important goal of ensuring a library system befitting the nation’s capital.
Mary E. (Molly) Raphael
District of Columbia Public Library