The Renovation of MLK Library

The Post article by Philip Kennicott about the opening this fall of the renovated MLK Library is great for a couple of reasons. First, the DC government did the renovation without a public-private partnership (though private architecture firms, etc. were involved), which is amazingly wonderful in the age of the seemingly endless privatization of public institutions:

There were early plans to add floors, and subdivide the building into public and private uses. Some proposals called for including condos or office space. But as the project went forward, and as the city thrived economically, the renovation, guided by a strict oversight process, was deemed viable without adding commercial uses.

Second, the MLK Library is expanding its public sharing resources to include tools and sewing machines, and potentially larger reading rooms:

Flanking the entrance to this massive lobby are the two central staircases, which lead to the basement, where new fabrication spaces include sewing machines and a tool-rental library, and to the new fifth floor, which includes access to the top level of a two-story auditorium. A double-level reading room also has been added, connecting the third and fourth floors on the east side of the structure.

Of course, people had made the MLK Library into a wonderful space long before the renovation, such as the Wednesday dinners for those without homes at tables in the lobby, the meetings that went on for all sorts of groups in the basement, the American Sign Language classes that went on upstairs, and the phenomenal Washingtoniana Room. So, we’ll see what our friends and neighbors come up with next.


  1. ShiraDest

    Thank you for this update: it’s good, even though I no longer live in DC, to see the main branch being update for the Public Good in the District.
    Shira Dest.

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