DC Public Library is currently starting the design process for a fully funded new library in Congress Heights with the design-build team Perkins + Will Architects and Turner Construction. The new full-service, 20,000-square-foot plus library is proposed to be built next to the Congress Heights Metro Station at 1290 Alabama Ave SE. This library will replace the store-front Parklands-Turner Library, located at 1547 Alabama Ave. SE.
Community Engagement Opportunities
Community input is always a critical part of designing a new DC Public Library location and we are committed to ensuring that the new Congress Heights Library reflects its residents. To do this, we are starting an ongoing conversation with the neighbors of Congress Heights. The Library is engaging residents in a variety of ways including:
- Focus Groups
- Community Meetings
- Online Engagement
- Attendance at community events
Stay tuned to this page throughout the design process to see more ways to get involved.
Previous Congress Heights Community Engagement
Dec. 2022 | Community Meeting
The Library hosted an initial community meeting on Dec. 9 to share information about this exciting project.
May 2023 | Community Listening Workshop 1
In this first round of Community Listening Workshops, DC Public Library and the Design + Build Team explored a variety of questions around what Congress Heights Neighbors see as the greatest needs in their community, how they like to gather, what a great library experience feels like and more. There was an in-person session on Saturday, May 13 and a virtual session on Monday, May 15.
June 2023 | Community Listening Workshop 2
The second round of Community Listening Workshops were an opportunity for the community to collaborate further as they built on feedback from the previous sessions. Community members were not required to have attended the previous workshops to join in and share. There was a virtual session on Saturday, June 10 and an in-person session on Thursday, June 15.
Nov. 2023 | Design Feedback Meeting
DC Public Library invited community members to help re-imagine the new Library in Congress Heights as we shared our progress on the project and gathered important feedback. At the hybrid Design Feedback Session on Nov. 7, hosted at Bard DC High School, neighbors had a chance to see how the input gathered through surveys and community meetings is shaping the design of this new library.
Congress Heights Library Design-Build Team
The Library selected Perkins + Will and Turner Construction for the design-build team. Two community members helped select the team. This team designed and built other DC Public Library Locations, including the Southwest Library as well as the Anacostia Library and the Tenley-Friendship Library. See example images from these projects below.
Congress Heights Library Site Identification
In 2019, DC Public Library undertook a study to identify potential locations to build a full-service 20,000-square-foot permanent library to replace the temporary leased location for the Parklands-Turner Library. There were two main criteria for site identification:
- The site should be within one-half mile of the existing storefront library.
- The site should allow for a 20,000-square-foot library that would be owned by the city.
The Library met with several stakeholders from the community as part of the study. Overall, there was general consensus that the community is eager for a new full-service library in Congress Heights and that a location along the Alabama Avenue corridor, with bus routes, shopping and a Metro stop, is ideal. While no one site rose above the others in terms of preference, the stakeholders did offer some helpful guidance. This included:
- Ensure the location is easily accessible for students;
- If the library is part of a larger, mixed-use project, consider the other amenities' compatibility with community needs;
- Create a library that is responsive to the needs of the entire Congress Heights community; and
- Prioritize pedestrian safety
On July 15, 2021, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the new library in Congress Heights will be built on Parcel 16 on the St. Elizabeth's East campus and adjacent to the Congress Heights Metro Station.
The Evolution of Libraries in Congress Heights
In the late 1970s, four library kiosks were built to serve neighborhoods that lacked library service. These plexiglass and metal booths were less than 1,400 square feet in size. They had limited hours, small collections of library materials and lacked space for technology, meetings or programming. While they were intended to last no more than seven years, they remained open for three decades.
As part of the library construction renaissance that began in 2009, the kiosks were replaced by small neighborhood libraries, including Parklands-Turner which is a leased storefront. These libraries average 5,700 square feet in size and are improvements over the kiosks they replaced.
However, the library system’s offerings have increased dramatically over the past decade and these small libraries cannot begin to offer the full range of services that the larger buildings provide. They lack meeting rooms, program space, or study rooms and offer limited access to technology and collections. The small footprints make it difficult to provide separation between age groups, a source of frustration for customers.
When we engage with communities to design new libraries, the above-mentioned features and services are exactly what residents request and prioritize. While a busy and full-service library can welcome more than 200,000 visits annually, a small library typically serves fewer than half that number. By replacing the store-front library with a 20,000 square-feet, full-service library, DC Public Library will be able to better deliver the services, resources and spaces that the Congress Heights community wants and needs.