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.
MLK LIBRARY FRIENDS
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.
 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