The District of Columbia Public Library was created by an act of Congress in 1896 “to furnish books and other printed matter and information service convenient to the homes and offices of all residents of the District." The establishment of the library was largely due to the long and arduous efforts of Theodore W. Noyes, editor of The Evening Star. Mr. Noyes served as president of the Board of Library Trustees for 50 years.
From 1898 until 1903, the DC Public Library was located in a house at 1326 New York Ave. NW. In 1899, philanthropist and library enthusiast Andrew Carnegie donated funds to build the Central Library at Mount Vernon Square. In 1903, the new Central Library was dedicated in a ceremony attended by President Theodore Roosevelt.
The first branch of the DC Public Library was built in 1911 in Takoma Park. Soon after, additional facilities were added. The library system now includes 25 neighborhood libraries -- three of which are Carnegie built -- and one central library.
In 1972, the Central Library at Mt. Vernon Square was replaced by the large, modern Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 9th and G streets NW. The new main library was designed by Mies van der Rohe. It was designated a historic landmark in 2007. In 2017 the library closed for modernization which was completed in 2020.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, D.C.’s central library, has undergone a complete modernization. The transformed flagship library now features.
- A spectacular new, vibrant and transparent entryway
- Sculptured monumental staircase
- A large auditorium and conference center
- Creative spaces for fabrication, music production and art creation
- Ground level café with patio
- Double-height reading room
- Newly designed special collections space
- A roof top terrace.