DC unveils renovated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Public Library


Access to most of the building’s interior will be prohibited

WASHINTON (WDVM) — The District of Columbia Mayor and several D.C. Council members gathered on Thursday to officially reopen the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library.

The project took three years to be completed, and cost the city over $200 million. 

The building dates back to the 1960s, and the renovations to modernize the library began in 2017. 

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke at a ceremony before the official ribbon-cutting, calling the renovations to the building a symbol of the district’s values.

“It will be a reminder to all of us to stand in our space and do the things we are called to do to make our nation fair, more just, and more free,” said Bowser.

The building’s renovation adds more public space in the building and features a new set of stairs, an auditorium, conference room, and an open rooftop space for events.

WDVM tagged along as Mayor Bowser and the library’s Executive Director, Richard Reyes-Gavilan, toured the building.

“I look forward to not only what we are doing today, but also to the day very soon where we can fully and completely open this building to our patient, but so deserving residents, ” said Reyes-Gavilian.

As the library memorializes Dr. King, one can find tributes to him throughout the building. 

“We celebrate a man whose legacy helps us keep pushing forward, and it is a symbol that we must keep pushing forward,” continued Bowser.

“Although not in person, Dr. King’s family joined the celebration virtually. Martin Luther King III spoke during the ceremony, adding how special it is to have the library named in his honor.

“It is my hope that this Martin Luther King, Jr., library becomes a gathering place for interracial friendships and equity for the people of the District of Columbia,” said King III.

During Phase Two of the District’s reopening, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library will offer limited in-person services. Access to most of the building’s interior will be prohibited.

Residents will be able to access the building’s main floor only to:

  • Pick up books that they have placed on hold.
  • Apply for a Library Card: Customers can apply for a Library Card at an open branch and online via the Library’s website
  • Use a computer: The Library has reduced the number of public computers to ensure six feet of social distancing. In addition, computer sessions are limited to 45-minute sessions to allow for cleaning and for more people to access the internet. While photocopying and scanning are not available, customers can also send documents electronically for free printing.
  • Borrow Grab & Go Materials: Curated book titles and bundles of books will be available for checkout near the circulation desk. Customers can ask for a specific item, and the staff member will retrieve it.

Precautions and Safety Measures

The District has put in place the following measures at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library and other District libraries during the public health emergency:

  • All libraries are closed from 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. for cleaning.
  • Face masks required for staff and public.
  • Hand sanitizer available at each location for staff and public.
  • Quarantine returned materials for 96 hours before it is re-shelved.
  • Regulated entry and occupancy.
  • Reconfigured branches to promote social distancing.

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