Annual Meeting & Election

Annual Meeting and Election on Wednesday October 26 at 6:30 pm in Room A-5 of the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library.

Guest Speaker: Consumer activist and author Ralph Nader will speak about his new book Breaking Through Power. The MLK Library Friends will be selling books ($13.95 paperback) and Mr. Nader will be pleased to autograph copies.

Annual Election for 2016-17: Nominations are as follows.

Robin Diener President
Jeremiah Lowery VP
Joy Jones Secretary
David Weiner Treasurer
Andre Rosen Corresponding Secretary (membership)

Additional nominations will be accepted from the floor. All current members may vote.

Members may renew at the door.
Annual dues are $10.

MLK Library Friends Newsletter – March 2016

Dear MLK Library Friends,

Below please find my report on the Feb 23 Library Oversight Hearing, with links to testimony, as well as some interesting news from world of libraries, books and reading, and a reminder about our March 15 meeting, 6:30 PM at MLK.

President’s Notes on Library Performance Oversight Hearing
DC Council Education Committee
February 23, 2016


Presidents of Friends groups from Mr. Pleasant, Palisades, Rosedale, Tenley, West End, and Woodridge spoke about the situation on the ground at their branch libraries. There was mostly high praise for DCPL’s management of its budget allocation, of which DCPL expends nearly 100% each year. Good fiscal management inspires a high level of confidence in the Mayor and Council, making it more likely DCPL’s funding requests will be met. Sharon Turner of Woodridge noted that DCPL ought to be rewarded with additional funding, not penalized by cuts. In addition, a panelist from the DC Hunger Project praised DCPL’s participation in the citywide summer feeding program for kids.

Aside from questions about the MLK renovation (below), just a few items of concern were mentioned: security, lack of a teen librarian at Rosedale, and a perennially leaking roof at Tenley.[1]


My testimony for the MLKLF included the late development of a building program, only received after two years into the design process, in spite of being repeatedly called for by the Renovation Advisory Panel. I also spoke to the lack of recent public outreach about the close-to-finished plans before it is too late to respond to any concerns. I reported that I learned at first hand, during a trip to the Fairlawn Citizens Association, that they had received no information from DCPL about the renovation. Members present expressed high interest in learning more. Interestingly, the Fairlawn association meets monthly at the Anacostia Library. I concluded our testimony about the renovation by asking that presentations be undertaken by DCPL around the city to ensure citywide buy-in to the final plans, and volunteered our Friends group to assist.

I also asked about adult literacy services, and pointed out the 2007 Adult Literacy Council Report, which recommended branches be used to “build capacity.” Now might be the time for that, with MLK’s closure pending at the end of this year. Later, Director Reyes-Gavilan said he hoped to conclude leases in March for a set of different interim locations, although no details were available. I also praised Black History Month programming, having attended several programs in the lecture series, and noted the overall high level of activity at MLK.

Other MLKLF members spoke to our on-going concerns about specific aspects of the renovation plans: retention of undesirable brick facades,accessibility issues of a fourth floor auditorium, and poor location for Reading Room and book collections.

Available testimony is posted to our website.

Andrea Rosen, Ward 4, on why the brick façade should be removed.

Mary Jane Owen, Ward 1, founder of Disabilities Concepts in Action,on universal design and the difficulties of the proposed fourth floor auditorium location.

Marcy Logan, Ward 2, owner Swann Street Gallery, on an auditorium on the lower level.

Wendy Blair, Ward 6, on location of a grand Reading Room.

ANC Kathy Henderson, Ward 5, spoke about the community role of libraries, as well as preservation and public inclusion. Henderson served on the DC Historic Preservation Review Board.

[1] According to background received subsequently from Mary Alice Levine of Tenley, the leaks are throughout the building whenever it rains or snows, and have been a problem since the new library opened five years ago. Additional funding to fix the problem was allocated last year but, when the problem turned out to be structural and more costly, the money was expended for repairs at other libraries (this had been y explained at the January 2016 Library Trustees meeting). We learned that a temporary 3-5 year fix, estimated to cost $100,000, will be undertaken. It was not clear when.


Links You Might Like

The Math Myth and Other STEM Delusions by Andrew Hacker makes the case for numeracy over advanced math. In an NPR interview, the well-known contrarian says understanding numbers “as a second language” in order to read a corporate report or federal budget is more important than requiring advanced maths like trigonometry, “a harsh and senseless hurdle” keeping many Americans from graduating.

“The Unruly Pleasures of the Mid-Manhattan Library” Ada Calhoun’s NewYorker piece is a charming run-down of the quirks of various individual branches. I found myself laughing out loud.

“The Power of Pleasure Reading” by Sarah Knight at Book Riot which I got via twitter @goodreads follows the former book editor’s bliss upon leaving the corporate world to discover, “I’m still the same kid who lost—and then found—herself … in the pages of a book.”


Next MLKLF Meeting Tuesday March 15, 6:30 pm

Robin Diener, President 2015-16

MLKJrLibrary Testimony Facade
Testimony re Auditorium Location
GREAT READING ROOM, Feb. 23.16 DCPL Oversight

Homelessness Report 2014

Sanctuary of Mind: Public Libraries and Homelessness Report

Homelessness is an issue of society at large, but it has a disproportionate impact on public libraries. Many library supporters grapple with a problem that they feel is not of the library’s making and should not be its responsibility. Even the most compassionate librarians and library patrons have sometimes found themselves at a loss to handle certain encounters with homeless individuals in the public library.

The MLK Library Friends – a group of library volunteers and advocates – hosted a half- day conference to help the DC Public Library explore solutions to the dilemmas posed for the city’s central library – Martin Luther King, Jr, Memorial – by homelessness in the District of Columbia.

The session was convened in conjunction with planning for renovation of the MLK Library building, an historic landmark, and was held on Thursday June 26, 2014 at the Carnegie Institution for Science.

Civic, religious, non-profit and District agency leaders were invited to discuss their challenges and aspirations. The program was also informed by on-the-ground perspectives of DC Public Library professionals, including new Executive Director Richard Reyes-Gavilon, whose presence and participation was greatly appreciated. In addition, the MLK Library Friends presented a brief slide show of ideas gathered from other library systems.

The conference, free and open to the public, included an after-session lunch at which discussions continued. The ideas and suggestions that arose from the lunchtime conversations were also incorporated in this Report.

The MLK Library Friends hope these ideas for library-based solutions will provide a starting point for meaningful exploration as part of design development for the renovation of the MLK Library. The Friends anticipate and welcome all discussion of this report. We expect to continue the conversation through the establishment of a committee to work with the DC Public Library on an on-ongoing basis.

Robin Diener
President, MLK Library Friends
September 8, 2014

Sanctuary of Mind: Public Libraries and Homelessness Report

Dr. King in DC: A Community Conversation – Report from MLKLF

The MLK Library Friends commend DCPL for organizing and presenting the MLK “legacy” discussion program on November 4, with distinguished participants Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, Howard Dodson, and Kerrie Cotton Williams among others.A range of programming ideas were mentioned.

We noted, however, that no ideas were expressed for the physical library building and the opportunity afforded by the renovation. Here are two ideas for the physical building MLKLF has come across:

1) David Edwards of Ward 8 proposed that a bridge be installed, reminiscent of the infamous bridge in Selma. While the bridge would reference an actual physical landmark in Dr. King’s life and the civil rights movement, this bridge could also stand for the role of the library in making available literature and information that develops empathy for “the other,” that bridges cultures, and that ultimately may create a world of greater understanding, through compassion and love, as Dr. King taught.

In similar metaphorical terms, currently, libraries are hailed for “bridging the digital divide.” Certainly, children will enjoy climbing on a bridge, perhaps making the library more of a destination for them. And one can imagine a meme taking root among idealistic teenagers, and others, of linking arms and crossing the bridge together in solidarity for a cause or inspiration or to mark an event. Such a meme could put MLK Library even more strongly “on the map.”

The exact location of a bridge on the library property requires thought. Mr. Edwards suggested the front of the library building but it might also be appropriate outside the proposed new café, or inside the library in the lobby or Great Hall, or on the roof. Although this idea was posted on the MLK Ideascale, and Mr. Edwards has attended several community meetings to propose it, we are not aware of further discussion about it and DCPL has not reported on it.

2) Robert Thomasson of Ward 2 has suggested creating a small, chapel-like room for study and contemplation that would hold a collection of the great works of literature, philosophy and religion referred to in Dr. King’s speeches. Many of the speeches were recorded and could be made available to watch interactively through images that could appear on the walls or on individual computer screens. The complete collection of Dr. King’s personal library of 1100 volumes is housed at Morehouse College

This is an external link. It will open in a new window.

Architects Present Updated Design Plans

The Architects Present Updated MLK Design Plans
Tuesday October 20, 6-7:30 pm
MLK Library

MLK Library Friends will host architects from Mecanoo and Martinez+Johnson for a presentation of the latest design for the $200M renovation of the city’s central library on Tuesday October 20 from 6 – 7:30 PM. Mecanoo founder and creative director Francine Houben will lead the presentation.

The MLK Library Friends will hold its Annual Meeting afterwards from 7:30-8:30.

Both meetings are free and open to the public.