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While it’s always gratifying to see one’s institution in print (Artifacts, 6/14), it is better to have it referred to correctly. For example, it is the Washingtoniana Division, not room, and the Martin Luther King Memorial Library (no Jr. in the name). Call me picky.

It might be George Pelecanos’ impression that it was mainly him and bums, but I can assure you that is not the case. I am sure there were high-school students, college students, professors, independent researchers, historians, businessmen, D.C. government employees, news crews, and even Washington City Paper reporters (ask ’em) visiting in that three months. He may not have seen them or taken notice, understandably absorbed in his research. But we were quite busy.

Now, since we do have a soup kitchen next door, some of their clientele visit us, particularly to read the daily paper. City Paper readers will remember the recent article on churches and charity (“A Mighty Fortress,” 12/8/95)—one of the churches featured is our next-door neighbor.

Just for clarification, rest assured that no one was taking a toilet bath in the Washingtoniana Division. Maybe the restroom.

A static budget might contribute to any aura (of decay or something else). As far as being untapped, we aren’t at all recognized the way we should be (you never get your full credit) but approximately 3,000 patrons per month (not including phone calls) dispute the idea of “untapped.” And we do get a number of letters from a whole variety of places, across the U.S. and around the world (phone calls, too). We would like more recognition, of course, and would be happy to help out anyone interested in Washington(iana). That’s our job.

By the way, there is a good chapter on Greeks in Washington in the recent book Urban Odyssey. We do own a copy.

We do appreciate the credit we’re given.

P.S. This is not an official statement from the library, only the opinions of an employee.

Washingtoniana Division

D.C. Public Library


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